Guide to choosing sheets, halyards and boat lines

topsWhy is it necessary to change the tops if they still seem to be in good condition? Simple, the ropes do not have infinite life and, over time, they drastically lose their properties of load resistance and elongation. Halyards, sheets, and all shipboard lines are just as important as a sail and all rigging, and if they are of quality, they help you sail better and safer. For example: a 12-meter boat that has a mast of about 17 meters has a halyard that is at least 45 to 50 meters long. If with a standard material, such as polyester, you use one with a 12-mm diameter, with a “hi-tech” material, such as Dyneema, you can have the same, if not higher breaking loads with an 8-mm halyard. So less weight and more hold. The importance of shipboard rigging is often underestimated: however, a good quality line, allows the sails to be better adjusted and take advantage of every puff of air. Each material from which the ropes are made has a special property: it resists loads better, stretches little, does not suffer from ultraviolet rays, etc. These characteristics are achieved, however, not only by the choice of the noblest material, but depending on how the ropes are processed and woven together. And each is designed to play a specific role.

Halyards must withstand significant and stable loads for a long time. They suffer abrasion at the rubbing points of pulleys and diverters. They should not be stretched. The top of the rollafiocco always stays in the sun and is the one that gets the most wet with seawater. The important thing is that it remains soft over time and that the sock is weather resistant. Headsail sheets must withstand high and discontinuous loads. They must not stretch and must resist continuous abrasion caused by sliding between blocks and winches. The stocking needs to be soft, since it is almost always operated with bare hands, but it also needs to maintain a good grip on winch stoppers. The mainsail sheet bears a high load, but thanks to a series of hoists, it is usually well distributed over several points on the line. Since you never disarm, you should consider a sheet that will withstand weathering. Other rigging such as borose, tesabase, vang always remain rigged. Apart from the tesabase, they do not suffer excessive loads, but must remain manageable even after long exposure to sun and saline. Look at the tables at the bottom and get an idea:

tables from page 67-May 2009



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