Custom Built Ropes

If you’ve ever thought that a piece of running rigging was “almost perfect except for ____” you can fix it!


We can work with rope manufacturers to build the exact right product for your application. The most common request is for special colors.  If you have an aesthetic in mind, or need a unique look to identify a line, we can order pretty much any color or pattern you can imagine.  Often this has been for odd colors (Think pink! Or orange. Or purple…) or custom patterns (we once had someone ask for a very high tech heat set core, but wanted the outside to look like Crystalyne) We can also specify the technical aspects of the rope, like strands, carriers, fiber thicknesses, treatments and materials.roperack

A great example of a custom construction is our 6mm SK99 Heat Set Dyneema double braid. We wanted a very low stretch rope that met the Beneteau 36.7 class rules on backstays, but wanted to be as light and compact as possible. To do this, Alpha Ropes used SK99 core in a special braid, and covered it with an extremely thin Dyneema cover.  This make a rope that was 2 sizes smaller, and much lighter than the other options.  And just because they could, they used the new Black Dyneema to make sure this looks great for years.  backstay99

We can also do special sizes.  The 36.7 is again the inspiration here, as the mainsheet on this boat really needs to be perfect, as there is a lot of purchase and load.  The 10mm we’ve used in the past is a little big and drags when easing. We asked Alpha to make us a very true 9mm for this application, and it works great for boats from a certain Shields all the way up to the 36.7.  To make this a really special sheet, we can add core to make it a double or triple tapered sheet like our 36.7 GP Mainsheet This is where the loaded end of the sheet that sits in the blocks upwind is as thin, light and slick as possible to ensure minimum friction.  From there the line grows to a larger and firmer rope. The bigger rope is nicer to handle, and holds in the cleat better. The rope then narrows again for the tail, which is less loaded and handled, and eases faster in addition to being lighter where it hangs over the side of the boat when running. tripletaper36-7

We can also get technical with the materials in the cover.  Technora blended covers have become pretty common as sailors learn to appreciate their durability and grip.  Most of the Technora blends are 50/50, but we can request other blends. This purple Tech blend from Marlow is closer to 60% and was a special order.  The sky is the limit when it comes to materials, we have ordered up to 3 fibers in the same cover. To fit a specific application we can mix Polyester, Technora, PBO, Vectran and Dyneema to get the right wear, heat and grip characteristics.marlowtech60

If you have an idea for a custom rope, get in touch!  The lead times are usually around 2 months, and we can do cut lengths to suit your exact needs (although spools will be a better value) So if you need a special size, performance or just want your rope to look right next to your canvas, think about custom!

Chicago Yacht Rigging: Splicing Clinics

For Chicago sailors, winter feels especially long.  A great way to break it up and get some sailing prep in,  take one of CYR’s splicing clinics.

December 3-4 Columbia Yacht Club

Splicing 102:  Over 2 days, receive an introduction to modern cordage and learn to splice it with Kristian Martincic.  Students receive a comprehensive splicing kit with practice ropes.  Splices will be the 12 strand splice, tapered rope, simple loop, reeving eye, plus useful variants and tricks.

$300 including supplies and splicing toolkits

Saturday 10am-4pm 12pm-1pm lunch break
Sunday 9am-12pm, Bears Game

February 18 Chicago Yacht Club

Splicing 101: On Saturday morning, get an introduction to modern sailing cordage and learn to splice it! Includes a basic splicing kit and rope, and learn how to make the 12 strand splice in Dyneema. Light breakfast provided, and students are invited to stay for lunch afterwards.

$75 including supplies and toolkits

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PROtect Tapes

PROtect Tapes supplies chafe protection and other tape and film products for the worlds best race boats.  Their products include the wing film on the foiling AC boats, but for the rest of us there are a few good tapes to have on your boat. In addition to the in stock tapes which can be purchased online, we can also special order anything from the PROtect tapes catalog as a custom order.

The basic go to tape is their MASK product, which is often called “millionaires tape” due to relatively high cost of the tape. For preventing damage though, it is worth it.  Used to both prevent chafe and reduce friction, it gets used all over the boat. The applications are endless, but think about using on running backstays, spars, ropes, spreaders, toerails and more.

For boats with Carbo Foils or Tuff Luffs and assymetric spinnakers, spin sheets burning holes through the foil are a serious concern. Adding a layer of HEADFOIL tape on the foil or over your existing aluminum or kevlar chafe guard reduces friction and adds another sacrificial layer of protection.

To protect sails, rigging and crew from cotter pins, a self amalgating rigging tape is needed. The WRAP product is easy to apply, and sticks to itself in all weather.

The CHAFE product is a heavy duty  film, thicker than the MASK product and designed to be applied to smooth surface.  It prevents impact and chafe damage, so is great for spars, cabin tops, spreaders and any place you need more protection and don’t need to conform or stretch the tape.

Beneteau 36.7 Backstay Update

IMG_20160407_095336We have a new material for making 36.7 backstays, a heat set Dyneema double braid made with SK99 that meets the one design specs (breaks at 4727kg or 10421lbs) but comes in smaller and lighter than any other available option, at 6.1mm and weighing a mere 12oz with thimbles.


There are several options for finishing the bottom end of this stay

-Eye Splice With Thimble (shown) this is for use with the stock Lewmar backstay block
-Harken Lead Ring: this is a low friction ring, that adds 1.3oz to the weight and $20 to the cost. Lightweight and strong, but does make pulling the backstay harder
-Harken Black Magic Block: A roller bearing block that gets spliced to the end of the backstay, adds 3.23 oz and $195 to the cost
-Karver High Load KBO Block: A plain bearing block that gets spliced to the end of the backstay, adds 3.2oz and $240 to the cost

Testing: Clutch Slip Solutions 1

Spinlock clutches are the de facto choice for halyard holding in racing boats. For holding and releasing lines at deck level theres nothing that comes close in holding power, controllability and the durability of the gear.  That said, it’s a pretty common job for a rigger to try to eliminate the slipping that occurs as the line slides through the cam.  Much of this is due to the way clutches and cam cleats work; the cams move out of the way in the direction of the winch when the line is being tensioned, and then when the tensioning is complete, the line moves back towards the sail, taking the cam with it until the cam is completely engaged and the line held fast.

Spinlock XCS with 8mm Crystalyne

Above, we have a Spinlock XCS clutch with the test rope, a piece of 5/16″ Crystalyne.  The cam is the toothed gray metal piece just above the line. It’s hinged where it meets the cam arm, which is again hinged where it meets the base plate.  When the clutch handle is open, the line can move in either direction since the cam is lifted away from the rope.  When the clutch handle is closed, the cam presses against the rope, which in turns presses against the base plate. When this happens, the line can only be pulled “with” the cam, away from the load (to the right in this photo)  This means that when loaded (moving to the left) the line jams between the teeth on the cam and the baseplate and is held in place.   In order for the holding of the line to occur, the line has to move towards the load a little bit, which engages the cam.  This is where we get our initial clutch slip;  it’s an inescapable part of how the clutch works, but it can be limited.

Here is a quick look at clutch slip: the lines loaded to ~470lbs, then released.  There are two things to note here: if you look at the cam under the clutch handle you can see it drop as it grabs the line, and also, thats a LOT of slip! Video: Clutch Slip

Another thing to note in the cutaway view of the clutch is that the line is flattened a bit where it is held by the cam.  Since rope is just a round braid of fibers, when it’s loaded from the side it will deform, getting flatter and wider.  This is an important bit of data to use when trying to minimize clutch slip.

The tests are being done with clutches provided by Spinlock.  In talking to them about the test, their expectations mostly revolved around proper sizing, as well as quality of the line.  Spinlock has done their own testing and wasn’t surprised when the best performance came from better quality lines using higher tech materials.  Even among similar constructions,  you can tell a higher quality line as it’s generally firmer, with less slop between cover and core. The size helps in that the gap between the clutches baseplate and cam can be greater before the line is captured, and the firmness helps in that the line will flatten out less, and therefore accomplish the same thing.

The problem of slip has paradoxically increased as cordage has gotten higher tech.  As we’ve gotten stronger fibers and treatments, downsizing line has become common so as to reduce weight and windage.  There are 35′ boats using 8mm line, where as a few years ago they may have used 12mm.  This means that the same load (or higher as sail technology improves alongside cordage) on a much smaller cross section.  Those same higher tech sails are also far more sensitive to losses in tension caused by slipping, so solving slip is all the more important.

This first test concerned a very common line, 5/16″ Yale Crystalyne. I consider this to be lower/middle of the road for a vectran cored line.  It generally works fine, and is quite easy to splice. That ease of splicing does indicate that the cover is relatively loose to the core.  It’s the cheapest vectran cored line commonly used in the US, and you can find it at just about every regatta.   The 5/16″ sample I have actually measured 7.1mm under load, a bit under spec.  It’s the smallest line that’s going to to be tested, and in addition to trying it “bare” it was tested with two sizes of core bulking, as well as a cover addition. The clutch is a Spinlock XCS fitted with the smaller of 2 cam sizes, the 0610 (6mm-10mm)

Core bulking is the addition of extra material inside the core (duh) which yields and increase in the overall diameter of the line, as well as a firmer line.  If done properly, the core insertion is tapered at both ends to prevent a hard point in the line and to eliminate any potential snag points.  The line for this test was bulked with a 1′ section of it’s own core, which increased the diameter to 8.5mm.  After the initial rough draft of this test, I was curious as to how a max diameter core bulk would work, and added a piece of 5mm dynex dux to another section of the same rope, which brought the finished diameter to a very firm 10.2mm.

Cover addition is taking a piece of cover and sliding it over the halyard, and splicing it into the halyards cover in the area of a clutch.  If done properly (the extra cover must be tight to the existing cover) , it firms the line, as well as increasing the diameter. It’s a bit more time consuming than the core insertion, and does result in a stiffer line with 2 hard spots where the extra cover tapers into the core.  I have seen past  failures of this type of treatment (in the cover) on older halyards with lower quality splices, so I do think of this as less reliable than core additions.  I used a piece of small New England ARC cover here, which brought the diameter up to 9.3mm.

Plain Crystalyne (top), bulked to 8,5mm, ARC covered to 9.5mm, bulked to 10.2mm

The test was conducted on the prestretching bench, which had a Spinlock XCS clutch mounted in the middle.  Tensioning was performed with a winch on one end of the bench, from there the line ran through a snatch block at the other end of the bench, then through the clutch in the middle where it was tied to a piece of 3/4″ nylon on the “load” side of the clutch.  The nylon line was used so it would stretch, and provide some pull on the Crystalyne as the clutch slipped.  After being tied to the test rope, the nylon line ran through _another_ snatch block on the other end of the bench, then back to the opposite end, where it was tied to a hydraulic cylinder on a load cell.  All this mess was there in order to provide a long run of line to tension against, as the first time I tried the test the clutch the tension on the line would drop dramatically after the winch was released. This was because there was only a few feet of line on the load side of the clutch before it was dead ended to the bench. Without load behind the clutch, the cams won’t engage.

To test the line, each section was brought up to 1000lbs or so and left to sit for around 5 minutes.  This should remove constructional and bending stretch, as well as make sure any stretch was pulled from the other components in the system.  For the test numbers, I took the line up to 600lbs, about appropriate for  a 10m boats jib.  Once it was there, I released the line from the winch, and measured how much the line moved, as well as how much the line had compressed under the clutches cam.

First the stock Crystalyne.  The actual size of the line under load was around 7.1mm, and in three tests is averaged 26mm, or just over 1″, of slip.  The pressure was dropping quite a bit, going from around 600 to the high 300lb range.  If this were on a boat,  I think the result would be quite a lot of change in the draft of the sail, and scallops off the hanks and/or wrinkles.  Really interesting was how much the line flattened out where the cams held it; down to under 1/4″! 

The next test was with the core bulked by adding a cut piece of the Crystalynes core.  This made the line firmer and larger, to around 8.5mm under load.  This is a pretty typical change CYR would make to a line thats been slipping, and I’ve had good results and reports from customers.  The slip was reduced around 40%, at 16mm or ~5/8″.  This would be a big improvement over stock, but would still show up in the sail. In three tests the pressure dropped from 600 to between 430 and 480lbs, and the line under the cam shrank to 8.1mm. Better, but not perfect by any means.

With an extra cover of New England ARC (great product!) the line was firmer yet, and measured at 9.3mm, or just under 3/8″  This is a pretty big increase, and I was expecting this to be our top performer, as in addition to the size we had the extra grip of the ARC.  It did improve, to around 11mm or 7/16″.  The line barely deformed under load, being 9.2mm where the cam gripped it.  Pressure dropped to an average of 510 lbs over 3 tests.

I’d done the initial test with those three lines, but wanted to try again with a more extreme treatment, and used a piece of 5mm Dynex Dux inside the line for a bonus test.  This is NOT something I would recommend actually doing, as the line is incredibly stiff, and I think theres a good likelihood of it jamming over a sheave or through a turning block.  Additionally, when bulked it was over 10mm, which is the max line in the clutch. This meant that even when the handle was open, the line still dragged over the cams a bit.  Oddly, using an actual 10mm line didn’t result in this, which makes me think that the incredible stiffness of this bulk was keeping the line from moving properly through the clutch. This would slow releasing the line, as well as wearing more quickly over the bulked portion. I believe the braid of the core was distorted a bit as well, so there may be a commensurate loss of strength with this goofy bulk.  It did perform well though, as it saw just over 6mm (1/4″) of slip, and the pressure only dropped to 565lbs. The line didn’t shrink at all where it was in the cams. Again,  I wouldn’t actually recommend this bulk, but it does illustrate the core (heh) result of this test.

The takeaway here is that the more material you have in the line, the better.  Bigger helps, but firmer is just as important.  The negative effects of the cams action are minimized with a good core bulk or cover addition, and getting as close to the max size the cam allows is key.

Based on this, I’ve modified the specs I’ll use at CYR for bulking halyards.  Typically, I’ve used the same size core for core additions.  In the future it’s going to be larger sizes of core, as well as prestretched pieces to make for a firmer core addition.  The goal I think, should be to get to just below max cam size for best performance, but not to make the line so stiff or large that it impedes the release through the clutch.  It’s been quite helpful to learn what the targets should be for this sort of work, and it’s going to improve the quality of the product I turn out.  Coupled with CYRs extensive database of boat measurements, we can now provide halyards that outperform bare lines and other treatments.  Contact me at today to discuss this and other ways to get the most out of your rigging.

While doing the first draft of the test,  I also encountered a few tricks that can help you on your boat while racing.  Both involve getting cam to grab the line more efficiently as the line is released from the winch. First, once you’ve tensioned the halyard, but before releasing from the winch, open and close the clutch handle, then open again and physically push down on the top of the cam. This will better seat the cam against the line.  Then, when releasing the line, let it off the winch smoothly and slowly. This keeps the relatively slick cover of the line from sliding over the teeth of the cam.  These techniques helped most with the untreated line, although they were still nowhere near the performance of the core and cover treatments.

The first test generated a ton of interest, as well as “you shoulda”s, so feel free to keep them coming, as well as any ideas for other tests on stretch or break testing.  The rigging season has started in earnest with the warm weather, but I’ll take the best ideas and give them a try on slow days and get the results up here. Thanks for reading!



Tartan Ten Boom: Outhaul Kit and Sleeve

Chicago has a strong one design fleet of Tartan 10’s, and over the years a few rigging issues and upgrades have become popular.  Concerning the T10 boom, theres a few key upgrades that make the boat easier to sail and more reliable.

The T10 uses a Kenyeon E Section/Dwyer DM450 boom, which is relatively slender compared to the massive mast.  The boats have been getting sailed harder and harder over the years, and coupled with the increase in vang sheeting upwind (plus the inevitable mainsheet eases with the vang on hard) has meant more than a few boats have bent or broken booms.  The class addressed this with a rule allowing a boom sleeve of <3′ to be added in the area of the vang:

 One internal reinforcement or sleeve, not be greater than 3.000′ in length, is permitted at the vang attachment area. The Rig-Rite Internal Vang Reinforcement Sleeve (Part #: K-11903E) is approved. Other sleeving methods are subject to Chief Measurer approval.

There’s quite a lot of variety in method and effectiveness of the sleeves out there.  The Rig Rite kit is the most common method, but having installed a few of these I was looking for a better alternative.  The kit sleeve isn’t a very good fit for the inside of the boom, as it’s a much tighter radius than the E Section tube, additionally it doesn’t completely fill the boom. 

The way I’ve installed these in the past has always been to try and bend the sleeve “open” in order to get a better fit, and then riveted the sleeve into place with lots of SS rivets in order to get it to fit more closely at the side walls of the tube.  To make a smooth transition from the sleeved area to the rest of the boom, it’s been necessary to grind the front and back couple inches of sleeve to taper. It’s definitely better that nothing, but I didn’t like the extra fasteners and the poor fit.  I’ve also seen quite a few other solutions, mostly having to do with flat stock along the bottom of the boom, like backing plates for vang attachments.

Edit: I’ve heard from a friend in the T10 fleet who was a bit putout that I didn’t think the Rigrite sleeve was any good.  To be clear, it _does_work, and both stiffens the boom to make the vang more effective and makes the boom stronger.  I’m not suggesting it doesn’t work, just that there are always better ways to tackle any project.

For the most recent upgrade,  I took 3′ of Dwyer DM450 tube and removed the track from the top.

 This makes for a sleeve that is a better fit for the boom and extends higher along the sidewalls so fasteners like vang bail bolts are included in the reinforced area.  To make a smooth transition from sleeved to unsleeved, there is a taper cut into the ends, as well as a few kerf cuts in the bottom.  This makes it easier to install and should prevent stress at the end of the sleeves. Making this can be a DIY project, but does involve a few difficult steps.  Cutting the track off requires either a table saw (and extreme care to avoid the kickback off a 3′ aluminum missile…) or a jig saw, as well as some grinding to fair and taper the ends. I made an extra sleeve, and can make more on spec. Contact for info.

This makes a sleeve that relies on fit rather than fasteners to keep it in place. The downside is that it’s a very close fit, and requires force to get the sleeve into place.  When installing I added a small tab of aluminum to the aft end of the sleeve, looped some dyneema line through the tab, and used that to pull the sleeve into place with a winch.

There’s quite a lot of load needed to pull the sleeve into place, but adding 5200 or similar adhesive to the inside of the boom makes it a bit smoother, even so it takes a few hundred pounds of tension. This is not something that can be hammered or pushed into place, and is best done with a comealong, winch or hydraulic pull cylinder. To start the sleeve into the boom, clamp the sidewalls of the sleeve together, a few inches from the end of the boom. Once the clamp hits the boom, move it a few inches towards the free end of the sleeve and retighten. 

As you’re increasing tension on the line pulling the sleeve in from the front of the boom, tap the front of the sleeve with a mallet to help move it along.

 Take turns adding tension and tapping with a mallet and extension until the sleeve is in place.  Go slow! Add turns on the winch, or crank the comealong a little bit at a time, then tap the other end of the sleeve to loosen it up. The amount of force increases as the sleeve enters more of the boom, so if it seems dubious, stop before the sleeve is all the way in and reconsider your approach.  I chose to pull the sleeve in until the vangs attachment point was at the centerline of the sleeve. By the way, having done it both ways, I can say it’s much, much cleaner to add the 5200/plexus/whatever adhesive to the _inside_ of the boom first, rather than the outside of the sleeve! Most of the goop will be squeezed out of the gap between sleeve and boom, so you can be pretty sparing here.

Once the boom is in place, there are a couple things to do. First thing is to pull the middle of the sleeve tight against the bottom of the tube before installing any of the transverse fasteners like boom bail bolts etc.  The best way to do this is to have some holes drilled in the bottom of the boom tube, and then once the sleeve is in place, drill and tap through those holes into the sleeve, then use machine screws with washers to pull the sleeve towards the bottom of the tube.  For this boom, there was plenty of existing holes to use for this, as there were 3x 5/16″ fasteners for the boomkicker, plus 2 new #10 holes for the Harken 291 for the outhaul, as well as the slot in the boom for the hold outhaul exit.  The trick here is to add torque slowly, alternating among the fasteners (it would be quite easy to strip a thread if you were to try and accomplish this with 1 fastener)  in the middle of the boom first.  Monitor the sleeve as the gap between it and the bottom of the boom closes, as it’s quite easy to add too much tension to a single fastener and strip the threads.  Once the middle of the sleeve is close to the bottom of the boom, install the rest of the hardware.  To my mind, it seems ok if the ends of the sleeve lift up a bit, as when the boom bends under vang load the sleeve will reconnect with the bottom of the boom. Since there will be a lot of adhesive between the front edge of the boom and the sleeve, I like to use an acetone-soaked foam paint roller on the end of a batten/stick/whatever to clean up the extra while still tacky.

While tackling a project like this-or any project involving taking a boom apart-it’s always wise to inspect all the internals, make any relevant upgrades or replace any suspect parts.

For this boat, the whole reason the boom was on first on CYR’s bench was because the wire outhaul pennant had parted, and the owner wanted some more purchase.  A perfect time to install the CYR T10 outhaul kit!

The kit adds 12:1 purchase and replaces existing tackle.  It’s designed to attach to whatever existing hard point the boom has at the front of the tube.  Theres quite a lot of variety here for attachments among existing booms; I’ve seen transverse bolts through the boom,  eyestraps, dyneema loops around the front end fitting and more weird stuff that shouldn’t be used.  The length of the cascades in the kit is designed to be flexible enough to accommodate the variety of attachments, so long as it’s within ~8″ from the front of the boom.  The way I like to install outhauls is to first remove all the old tackles and reeflines.  It seems to be about 50/50 that there is some sort of crossed line or override with a piece of hardware in the boom, so you might as well redo it now and not have to wonder.

First, figure out the attachment, and install the D shackle with all the bits of tackle attached to it as provided in the kit. This boat was also adding U-bolts for spinnaker pole storage, so to keep things efficient I just modified a Harken eye strap to mount to the back of the U bolt threads.  This replaced the stock Dwyer eye strap, which was beginning to deform and eventually would have failed.  Here you can see the all the cascades attached to the shackle, which is attached to the eyestrap.  The red on the inside of the tube is a bit of loctite before cleanup.  Use either loctite or locknuts on internal fittings, as this is not something you want coming loose!  Lock washers are not appropriate here (and debatably anywhere on a boat) as the curved walls of the boom mean a lock washer will not lay flat against the substrate and therefore won’t “spring” properly against the hex nut.  

Once the front end of the outhaul is attached, make sure the purchase is tangle free and ready to run.  To bring the tackle to the aft end of the boom, I like to use a tape measure. A steel tape is stiff enough to be guided along the top of the tube, and to clear obstructions like vang and mainsheet bail bolts.  Additionally, once you have the end of the tape attach to the outhaul tackle it makes it easier to pull the tackle singlehanded as tape measure rewind keeps some tension on the aft end of the tackle, while the front end can be fed into the boom.  This makes it quite easy, as the tape measure acts as your helper keeping tension on the aft end of the tackle.

Once you have the tackle pulled through the boom, run the outhaul pennant through the aft end fitting.  In this case, the original sheave was scored from wire, seized and too small for the dyneema line.  Since the boat only uses 1 reef line, it was easiest to just use the starboard reefing sheave. I’m curious as to whether there are many T10’s using double reefs, care to give me your opinion?

The kit is available with an optional Harken 291 pivoting lead block for an additional $65.  This is a great part to have on your boom, as it allows cleating and easing of the outhaul from either rail so your crew can stay hiked while making adjustments. This is superior to alternatives like a horn cleat (requires you to move into center of boat) or clam cleat with a block aft (fine for tensioning, but must be eased from within a few inches of the boom)

Note in this picture there are 2 different types of fastener holding the 291 to the boom.  The wider flatter machine screw to the left is a truss head screw, which is used here to make the 291 easier to remove.  Theres a clevis pin that holds the block to the bracket, and the head of pin will jam on a regular pan head screw; the truss head is lower profile so the pin can be removed easily. The more standard pan head screw is on the right, just to show the difference in head type.  Truss head screws are great for clearance issues like this, although theres less material around the phillips drives, so they are more prone to stripped heads.

Installing the 291 is quite easy, but there are a few tricks that make installing tapped parts like this go smoothly.  First, when tapping, make sure you use a center punch to mark your hole before drilling, and double check the hole spacing.  Then, use the proper tap and drill size.  For the 291, it’s a #25 drill (big-box stores usually carry tap kits with a 5/32″ drill. This will work at making threads, but for aluminum it makes for weaker threads than the smaller, #25 drill)  Tapping cleanly is easy so long as you’re careful, and use a lubricant.  Thread compound or WD-40 is the go-to for this, but I’ve head good results using many different oils and greases-anything is better than dry!. If you’re going to be attaching a fastener straightaway, you can even use Loctite, as this helps cut threads and makes sure the threadlocking compound makes it into every thread.  When tapping make sure you hold the tap handle straight, and turn it in steps: IN a quarter turn, then back the tap out almost all the way, then repeat until all the way though. This clears the metal shavings, and prevents a broken tap since you’re not binding the tap.  Go slow, and back the tap off if there’s any resistance at all.  I’ve tapped hundreds of fasteners in my career, and every time there’s been a problem I’ve immediately looked back and realized I was rushing or not using proper gear:  removing a broken tap is exactly zero percent fun (and in my case can make a job unprofitable) go slow, be careful! Once you’re done, clean up the area, add a little more loctite to the machine screw, and install.

After pulling the outhaul tackle through, use the same method to pull the reefline line.  Make sure the outhaul tackle is pulled tight and off to one side, then pull the reefline down the other.  Run the lines through both end fittings, and put the endcaps back in the boom. Before loctiting and reinstalling the fasteners, make sure both reefline and outhaul run free, and that the outhaul can be eased far enough to attach the sail, and tightened all the way to the end fitting.  Once this is checked,  install your ends and you’re good to sail!  I like to take all the stretch out of the outhaul lines by attaching the outhaul pennant to the mainsheet bail and pulling it tight.

If you’re starting from scratch and making a new boom, please contact me.  CYR has made a new style boom for buoy racing only with no reefing gear, and it’s stiffer, stronger and lighter than the traditional boom. This boom is especially trick, as theres no aft end casting; it’s replaced by a ball bearing sheave.

High Tech Halyard Weight Savings: Shields

Our winter project this year has been to ready a 1968 Shields for racing in time for it’s 40th
birthday. Along the way we’ve had the chance to come up with quite a few rigging tricks and  upgrades, but one common upgrade got us thinking. How much weight do you actually save when changing out old tech for new when it comes to the boats running rigging?

Old Halyards

Old Halyards

This boat was a perfect candidate for going lightweight, as the halyards were pretty much
the same technical vintage as the boat itself. The spinnaker halyard was a gigantic 1/2″ poly halyard, which has the virtues of being stretchy, heavy and slow over sheaves. The main and jib were wire-rope halyards, which always makes me cringe when I see them on a racing boat. Now, wire-rope really has it’s uses, cruising rigging (where the wire wears
better for extreme long term use, say if you’re spending days on stbd tack!) and boats with
halyard locks being a few examples. But. 88 is not cruising around the world, and it doesn’t
have a halyard lock (too bad!). In addition, the wire portion of the halyard was really short;
on both halyards the wire only went half the length of the mast. Why, I dont know, but this
setup combined the worst of both wire and rope. It was heavy, hard on sheaves/mast/gear, and stretchy. The only thing I can possibly say that was good about 88’s old rigging was that it lasted, and the shackles weren’t too gigantically oversized.

New Halyards for Shields

New Halyards for Shields

What I wanted for 88’s new lines, was to be as light and efficient as possible while still being
easy to handle, and with a reasonable lifespan. Since rigging is my business, I figured I
could go all out and make the perfect halyards, even if they ended up being a bit of overkill.

The main and jib are New England V100 (vectran core), which has been stripped to save
weight (and windage on the jib) I wanted to stay light with the shackles, and used Tylaska’s
P4 polycarbonate spool shackles. To keep the halyards around for a while, I added back
cover to the last 5′ or so, so that the halyards wouldn’t chafe at sheaves and exits, and also  so they could be skyed to protect the uncovered portion completely from UV. The spin  halyard is New England Endura Braid, stripped and recovered the same way as the other two. It has a stopper ball (the shields has a really odd halyard spectacle that can get
jammed with a shackle) and a standard snap shackle with swivel. The topper is Endurabraid  as well, 1/4″ in size. All the halyards are 5/16″. They are extremely low stretch, the small diameter runs very quickly over sheaves and they’re quite light.

With both sets of halyards handy, I wanted to quantify the weight difference. It was obvious
that it would be lighter, but by how much?

The old halyards weighed in at 13.5 lbs. All that wire adds up!

The new set of lines came in at 7.5lbs, so in addition to being stronger and lower stretch,
they took out nearly half the weight of the old set.

Now, how much of a difference does this actually make for the boats performance? It’s
common to hear that removing 1lb of weight from the rig is just like adding 7lbs to the keel,
without actually increasing the weight of the boat. What this means is that the righting
moment (power of the keel to couteract the force of the wind on the sails) is increased, but
without the added weight that extra lead would bring. I’m not a naval architect and wouldn’t
try and make a prediction of what that means on the course, but I do know I’ve had plenty
of days racing where I’d love to have an extra 40lbs of keel!

This particular upgrade was a best case scenario: the lines needed replacement, and they
were so old that it was possible to make major improvements in all possible ways. The
weight was reduced and the new lines are much stronger and lower stretch. For your boat, the gains may not be as large, but it’s always smart boat prep to have good gear on board!