Are you going to replace your boat's rig with a composite one, but are confused in the choice? Sam Fortescue discusses the pros and cons of different solutions.
Just as we were switching from wooden spars to alloy spars after World War II, we are moving to carbon spars and composite equipment for cruising ships, ”says renowned surveyor Kim Skov-Nielsen.
We live on the cusp of a major transition to all-composite rigs. ”
Four options for modern boat equipment - from ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene (HMPE) to aramid, PBO (polybenzoxazole) and finally full carbon, we will consider.
Compared to steel, all of these options are much lighter, which allows for less roll and roll at sea.
More rigidity improves sail trim and transfers power more efficiently - especially in light winds.
In addition, synthetic fibers do not lend themselves to invisible fatigue that degrades stainless steel systems.
On the other hand, the cost of rigging can be two to four times higher than that of rope boats, and repairs outside large sailing centers are difficult.
Some fibers break down quickly when exposed to UV light or moisture, so damage to the sheath will shorten the lifespan of the rigging.
Carbon, in particular, is also prone to side impacts. Each boater weighs the options differently, but here are your options:
HMPE (Dyneema / Spectra)
The Dyneema and Spectra are extremely durable and very lightweight, but many riggers are wary of using them on cruisers because they find them too elastic.
However, the American specialist Colligo Marine claims that it is just a matter of choosing the right Dyneema strain and determining the correct size.
Many people have mistakenly sized the Dyneema for tensile strength and ended up with a very extensible rig, ”says Colligo Marine's John Franta.
Extensibility depends on cross-sectional area, so all you have to do is find the right diameter. "
This means that you end up with a longer Dyneema than your original cable, resulting in a slight increase in winding, albeit at a lower weight.
For example, the 8mm cable, which is standard on many 40ft cruisers, in the Colligo Dux system will have to be replaced by the 11mm Dyneema, but it should crawl less than 3mm in a year.
The type of HMPE you are using is also very important as the strands in the line even out under load.
A 50-foot guy from a regular Dyneema can grow 4-6 inches in length, ”says Franta.
This is why Colligo uses only the thermally stretched Dyneema SK75, in which the fibers are already very tightly aligned, instead of the more high-tech grades such as SK99 and DM20.
A typical HMPE fairing is spliced with a lightweight aluminum coupler that attaches easily to a traditional fork at the deck end.
You will need a special colligo fairing mount at the stern or CheekyTang, which is inserted into a loop at the top end of the fairing and then screwed through the mast.
Friction and UV are the main enemies of the Dyneema rig.
It is easier to cut and has a melting point of 100 °, so a fast moving sheet can cut through in seconds, ”warns Marlow Sales Director Paul Honess.
For this reason, Colligo is packaged in PVC shrink film and should last eight to 12 years without interruption.
Aromatic polyamides (Kevlar is a Dupont trademark) have low creep and high strength, as well as good abrasion resistance, which is important, for example, when crossing the Atlantic.
Aramids are five times stronger than steel wire in relation to weight, but this strength decreases many times if the fibers get wet, and ultraviolet radiation causes them to break quickly, so the cables must be well sealed and protected.
OYS has been developing Kevlar braces with stainless steel backstays for many years and recommends the 40% maximum cable rupture strength to minimize creep, so aramid braces are slightly thicker than bar counterparts.
For example, a cable with a diameter of 8.5 mm can withstand a load of 3000 kg and at the same time weighs only 60 g per meter.
Compare this to Nitronic, where a 7.5mm rod with the same working load weighs 350g per meter.
“You sizing for stretch and you end up with a much higher safety factor,” says OYS 'Robbie Sargent.
“It's flexible, can be wound onto a reel, and is relatively price competitive and looks fancy. Aramid is a cruise product in every sense and purpose ”.
“Black jacket is standard, but custom-made lighter colors can reduce the UV resistance of the cable.
OYS does not recommend the use of aramid fairings on monohull boats.
The rod and wire are fairly resistant to abrasion and physical damage, ”says Sargent.
Composite rigging is much more fragile. "
A medium sized Oyster or Swan has a full wrap - it can go through a textile wrap very quickly. "
“The material is well suited for front and rear jibs, runners and inner head jibs, or as side rigging on a multihull vessel,” he adds.
The Dutch company Aramid Rigging uses an advanced endless winding machine to produce tailor-made handrails.
The fiber bundle is in turn shrink wrapped to protect it from water, and then an outer sheath with a UV resistant coating.
Metal sleeves at each end are then sealed inside a polyurethane molding, eliminating one of the common points of failure of steel rigs.
Developed in the 1980s, polybenzoxazole, or PBO, was seen as a step up from aramid for rigging racing boats, with nearly double the strength and modulus of elasticity - stiffness.
It weighs less than 20% of the weight of the rigging wire, and manufacturers have developed an easy-to-install cruiser product.
Westmarine in the USA has partnered with Applied Fiber to develop the Powerlite brand that is fully compatible with conventional mast and deck clamps so that they can replace an existing wire rope or rod.
At the manufacturing stage, the pre-stretched PBO bundles are molded into a sheath that protects the fibers from UV, water and abrasion.
It can even be passed through the organizers, like a steel one.
Allspars is the UK supplier of the Dutch EasyRigging system, but both manufacturers agree that the rigging should be replaced after eight years - earlier if the boats have been heavily raced.
Babytags, runners and removable handrails should be replaced after four years.
However, some riggers argue that PBO outshines carbon in performance, and Dyneema and Aramid jibs are cheaper and more reliable.
“PBO has proven to be unreliable, inexplicably fragile and highly susceptible to ultraviolet light,” says surveyor Skov-Nielsen.
"It's not even discussed these days when choosing a new rigging."
The modern direction remains carbon (carbon), where Future Fibers dominates.
Before you flip the page with a sneer, know that the cost has dropped and production has improved, making carbon rigging affordable for cruising yachts.
“ECthree is the entry level for those looking to move away from core rigging for better performance and greater comfort at sea,” says General Manager James Austin.
“Our challenge is to democratize this system and make it a more affordable product for those in the 30-60 foot category.
ECthree is made from pure carbon rods tied in bundles, sheathed and fitted with stainless steel clamps for easy retrofitting.
It is similar to the high performance ECsix product.
Its modulus is 20% lower, but the cost is one-fifth less, ”Austin says. We think this is a good compromise. "
Carbon boat rig saves 65% rod rig weight.
It is invulnerable to water and ultraviolet radiation, so it is ideal for use on a yacht.
True, carbon does not handle side loads as well as steel, but the construction allows the fibers to move and bend inside the shell.
Stainless steel fittings are designed for replacement, but the cable must be regularly inspected and serviced - a service Future provides as a kit.
“It’s unrealistic to think that we will be able to reach the same price as the core, but we hope that it will be less than half,” says Osti.
"Undoubtedly, composite rigging is expensive, but you need to look at it based on the 15-20 year life cycle of the vessel."
Side rigging on Grand Soleil 46, recently refurbished, cost around £ 15,000.
LightSpeed, a smaller American manufacturer that is also trying to push carbon rigging into the sub-80-foot cruising yacht segment, uses the same Toray T700 as the Future, with smart titanium clamps that fit most common types of standard rigging screws and mast mountings.
“We are unique in incorporating Technora's integrated blend into the cable hoop structure to provide unmatched cable chafing protection and durability without additional coating,” says technician Mike Vasten.
Comparative costs for boat equipment:
Wire & Bar - It will cost you about £ 2,280 for the wire and around £ 5,000 for the rod to rig Dehler 38 with a standard 1 × 19 wire or Nitronic rod.
- HMPE (Dyneema / Spectra) - The cost of the cables for the Dehler 38 rig will be £ 2,900-3,700.
- Aramid - Approx £ 7,500 for Dehler 38 40-60% more than for bar rigging.
- PBO - Powerlite claims its cables only cost 30% more than rods, offering $ 8,525 (£ 6,210) for the Dehler 38 with running guys.
Carbon - $20,000 (£ 14,600) for a complete set of runners with runners for the Dehler 38.
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