Please select your home edition
Edition
upffront 2018 Velocitek Prism 728x90

Nick Black Discusses Internal Headsail Locks

by Andy Rice, SailJuice 12 Oct 2018 01:00 PDT
Internal halyard lock © upffront.com

In our last article on locks we talked about the pros and cons of External versus Internal lock systems. Here we'll look more closely at the internal systems available, which tend to be aimed at the performance-oriented programs that are prepared to pay more for superior aerodynamics.

There are two main types of internal locking system:

1. Internal bullet

2. Tripless

Broadly speaking, if I'm asked to do the specs for an all-out race boat, I would almost always advise on going for the internal bullet. On the other hand, I think for performance cruising boats that do a bit of racing, it's a lot easier to have the tripless lock system.

Internal Bullet

The bullet basically goes up through the sheave and then locks on to a flipper. The bullet pushes the flipper out of the way, and as it goes past, the flipper springs back into position and the bullet just butts up against that. To unlock, there is a separate tripline that opens the flipper and allows the bullet to release. It sounds simple enough although in the past there have been reliability issues with the flippers and the springs could malfunction slightly which could then lead to the bullet getting jammed in the mast. Sometimes the bullet could also get caught sideways in the sheave box.

However, there has been massive improvement in the bullet design over the last decade or so, which means these problems have almost entirely gone away. You do occasionally get problems if someone overwinds something by accident and breaks the halyard; in which case the sail is going to be stuck up there and someone will have to go aloft to get it down. That's why I still tend to recommend the internal bullet only for high-end projects with professional sailors involved.

Tripless

With tripless, you hoist the lock mechanism into the lock, you reach a mark on your halyard and it automatically locks into position. To release, you hoist the halyard a few centimetres past the locking position until the mechanism releases, at which point you can lower the sail.

Facnor and Karver both offer tripless internal locks, although they vary slightly in how they function. Facnor do a hoisting bullet although most of the body lives externally on the mast so you can see what's going on. The Karver system operates around an O-ring system and three little triggers that basically flip in and out of position.

When to use

A lot of the race boat programmes prefer the flipper and bullet scenario because it's very positive and for them it's a very quick solution, and success with locking is probably close to 100 percent. The bullet system allows you to launch into the hoist at full speed, using first gear from the winch straight onto the lock because you've got a mark and you don't need to worry about it.

With the tripless versions you need to be a little bit more accurate with what you're doing. You can't just do everything at full speed, you might have to swap into second or third gear and be a little bit more careful about not over-winding the halyard. However, for a performance cruising boat where time and speed are not vital, simplicity of the tripless version is recommended because it requires less operation by the crew.

What does it cost?

If you were looking to retrofit your 60 to 80 footer with an internal bullet system, you'd probably be looking at more than 5000 Euros just for the mechanisms, plus another 2000 Euros or so for the installation process. External is a lot cheaper, but if you want the aerodynamic and performance benefits, then internal is the way to go.

If you have any questions about lock systems, then please feel free to contact us at or complete the Halyard Locks enquiry form.

About the authors

Co-owner of independent rigging company, Rigging Projects, Nick Black is one of the most sought-after riggers in the business. One way or another Nick's work has made its way into most of the top tiers of the sport - the America's Cup, Volvo Ocean Race, Vendée Globe, the grand prix circuits like the TP52s, and in the superyacht scene.

Andy Rice is a UK-Based European and National Title holder for various types of Racing boats. He started his career in yachting journalism in 1992, writing for Seahorse Magazine. Rice now works as a journalist and copywriter for many different clients and magazines. In between his Sailing Intelligence commitments, he still manages to write regular columns for Seahorse, ShowBoats International, Yachts & Yachting and Boat International.

Related Articles

Cousin Trestec Constrictor - A Textile Rope Clutch
Based on the 'Chinese finger trap' so is kinder to your ropes At some point in our lives, we have all experienced the vice-like grip of the 'Chinese finger trap'; when pulled, the cylindrical, woven braid is designed to contract and constrain the finger. Posted on 18 Feb
Choosing the Right Winch
An educated choice will save you from unnecessary spend Choosing a winch can be daunting. The main decision criteria may be size or power ratio, but style, speeds, material and grip are also of a consideration. That's without going into powered options (electric/hydraulic). Posted on 13 Feb
Basic Running Rigging Terminology
Dekanewtons explained If you are looking at upgrading your running rigging, before you delve into the manufacturers catalogues there are a few key terms you need to understand: Single Braid, Double Braid, Rope Strength measured in daN (Dekanewtons). Posted on 8 Feb
Would you trust Dyneema with your lifelines?
80% lighter and 4 times stronger than traditional wire Lifelines are typically made of wire, however, as the sailing industry modernises, more and more people have been converted to the use of synthetic composite lifelines, such as Dyneema®. Posted on 4 Feb
A Guide to Mooring Lines
Arguably, one of the most important pieces of kit? Arguably, one of the most important pieces of kit onboard your boat is a mooring line; it's all well and good having a great boat, but if you can't safely secure it at the quay, harbour or pier then you're in real trouble. Posted on 30 Jan
Facnor FlatDeck Genoa Furling System
Fresh in at upffront.com with a unique webbing feature It's no surprise that the Facnor FlatDeck is the newest addition to the Upffront website: it's the latest in genoa furling innovation. We are excited to launch Facnor's revolutionary furling system on our website: the Facnor FlatDeck Furling System. Posted on 28 Jan
Why and When You Need a Code Zero
Andy Rice interviews Bjarne Lorenzen of sailmaker Doyle O'leu In a previous blog, Bjarne Lorenzen talked about the exciting new performance cruiser, the 39BEN built by Bente in Germany. While the sail plan will develop over time, the code zero was one of the first sails to go into the inventory. Posted on 25 Jan
What is a sailing dogbone?
They have been around for centuries, now re-engineered A dogbone is a small, light, dual tapered rod, which can simply and efficiently connect lines together. As the name suggests, its shape is comparable to that of a 'dog bone', where the middle section is tapered, and the two ends proportionally wider. Posted on 21 Jan
Nick Black Talks Main Halyard Locks
Final discussion in the series on lock systems for yachts The final in our series on lock systems for sailing yachts, Andy Rice talks to Nick Black of Rigging Projects about mainsail locks. Reef locks have taken off in a big way in recent years, mostly because clew loads have become higher and higher, Posted on 14 Jan
Introduction to Winches
With recent innovative features and performance improvements Although the fundamental mechanics of winches have not really changed over the years, there are some innovative features and performance improvements which have appeared in the industry in more recent years. Posted on 11 Jan
YY.com app (top)