Please select your home edition
Edition
SOUTHERN-SPARS-MISSY-FURLING-BOOMS-728-X-90

The Marlow Rope Show: We speak to David Mossman

by Mark Jardine 16 Jul 2019 04:00 PDT
Marlow Rope Show at Lymington Town SC © Mark Jardine

We spoke to David Mossman of Marlow Ropes after he had just delivered a 'Rope Show' to an extremely knowledgeable crowd at Lymington Town Sailing Club, asking some very specific questions.

Mark Jardine: I notice the Marlow Rope Shows are teaching your users how to lengthen the lifespan of their ropes.... why would you do that?

David Mossman: [Laughs] That's a very good question! I think if people better understand their rope, they are going to get more from it. We are about producing the best product that we can, and there's a lot of knowledge that can go with that, so the end user has a better experience with Marlow, and stays with the brand because they get value for money. You get what you pay for. We will educate you so the product lasts longer: it's good for everybody, it's good for the environment, and there's a safety factor in there.

Mark: If we look back at the 1990s when Vectran was one of the major products out there; it really suffered from UV degradation, so you had a product that looked fine and then would suddenly catastrophically fail. Dyneema doesn't suffer in the same way, does it?

David: No. It's a totally different product in that sense - it's a lot more stable. We are seeing it used in rigging applications, and there are some good long-term studies by DSM, who make Dyneema. It is robust when it is braided, and UV light only affects the outer portion of the braid. Obviously we very heavily PU coat it, so it is more resistant to UV and abrasion. We're seeing it used for backstays in 30ft race boats for a good long period of time. Usually it gets damaged by some external factor, and replaced. We see very little total failure of rope, and it is very easy to spot; we can tell when something has broken through load and fatigue.

Mark: One part of the Rope Show demonstration which stood out for me was when you compared a piece of the old 40mm wire rigging to Dyneema. Dropping the steel on the floor would cause a dent. Yet the Dyneema is 15 times stronger?! Do people still fail to grasp these facts?

David: It is interesting. In the small diameters they do. I was out with some people who were looking to change over from wire. When you give them a piece of 2.5mm Dyneema in place of some 2.5mm wire, they look... unsure! I have other clients in more commercial sectors who are swapping wire in systems for Dyneema, and equally - they don't have issues with my information personally - their end users worry it cannot possibly be strong enough: "it doesn't look anywhere near big enough... it's just a piece of rope!" So there's a big perception thing. We can go smaller and lighter, as we have done with the International Moth and other dinghies. But this belief exists, and that is part of what the Rope Show is about - getting the message out to people.

Mark: So a lot of what you are doing is breaking down preconceptions?

David: Indeed. We all do things - both you and I - based on preconception. You hear, "I like this mainsheet so I've always bought this mainsheet," and it makes me want to put a different mainsheet in someone's hands, and hear them say, "wow!" You give someone a Dyneema mainsheet on a Laser, instead of a polyprop one - which is super light and does the job - and you have them say, "wow, this is totally positive! I almost feel like I can feel the leech - I'm totally attached!" There are subtle differences, but we are trying to win races, and coaches are always telling us to look for 1% gains; well I can give you 10% less friction, or get you a totally different feel. So yes, it's about the preconceptions, but we all - as humans - do that a lot.

Mark: Everyone's looking at what is round the corner / what is the next thing that is going to develop. In the news we've seen materials like graphene and others researched. Is rope now at the point where we have the best material, or are things going to continue to develop?

David: That's a really difficult question to answer. Right now, we are not seeing anything that will braid functionally into rope, and give us significant gains above what we already have. We can still tweak a lot, and we do, application by application. But in terms of "what is the next big thing?" - that is still a question mark at the moment.

Mark: Marlow is a British company, and the engineering is all taking place in this country. How important do you think that is?

David: It's like anything: once the skills are gone, they're gone. I think the fact that we are here, visible and available, is important. The fact that people can come up to me - as they did tonight - and mention a problem, means I can say, "come up to the factory, bring the problem, and we can test it." Once it all goes to the Far East, that channel of communication is lost, and what I would learn from the visit, and testing that piece of rope, has also gone. So I think it is very important we are here. There's a lot of skills here. We have great employees who are smart and know how to get things done. They produce world class rope. We will continue to be here for as long as I can possibly see.

Mark: David, it is superb to see someone with such passion for rope and for the sport. Thanks for your time.

David: Thank you.

Find out more at www.marlowropes.com

Related Articles

The Great Escape
Planning for liberation after the outbreak, huh?! Planning for liberation after the outbreak, huh?! Well, a collection of New South Wales clubs has very much kept the spirit of Squadron Leader Roger Bushell alive. Posted on 31 May
Victor Diaz-de-Leon on the Happy Hour podcast
Stretch & Stirfry talk sunshine, sharks, spear fishing and serious sailing It's sunshine, sharks, spear fishing and serious sailing as we join J70 guru Victor Diaz-de-Leon aboard in Miami. Stretch gets tongue tied with the Venezuelan 'love pipe', and the internet lets us down... Posted on 31 May
Yes I, am the Great Contender
David Henshall gets excited in an overgrown field One boat that is not so much of a barn find, but a 'back of the field' feature, is a Contender, which has lain undisturbed for enough years for the brambles to claim it as one of their own. Yet this is a class that surely is worthy of a second look. Posted on 28 May
Hans Evers on the 2020 Miami to Key Largo Race
A conversation with Hans Evers about the 2020 Miami to Key Largo Race I checked in with Hans Evers, race chair of the 2020 Miami to Key Largo Race, via email, to learn more about this exciting sailboat race. Posted on 27 May
Savouring being back out on the water
But missing the karate sailing It seems I struck a chord when we published 'The great grass-roots revival?' a fortnight ago. Since then lockdown restrictions have been gradually eased in both Australia and England: we're allowed to go sailing! Posted on 25 May
Andy Burdick on Melges' 75th anniversary
Andy Burdick on Melges Performance Sailboats' 75th anniversary I checked in with Andy Burdick, president of Melges Performance Sailboats, via email, to learn more the company's proud boatbuilding history. Posted on 21 May
In conversation with Grapefruit's Andy Yeomans
From large-scale events to social distance signage for your club or business The Covid-19 crisis has caused the cancellation of all large events, wiping out the core of Grapefruit's business, but Andy soon had the team at work producing the social distancing signage and equipment. Posted on 20 May
Paul Westlake on North Sails' TP52 R&D work
David Schmidt checks out the development work in the TP52 class David Schmidt checked in with Paul “Flipper” Westlake, North Sails' executive vice president, via email, to learn more about North Sails' sail development work for the TP52 class. Posted on 19 May
X2. Times three...
This is the third instalment of information about the exciting new X2 by Farr This is the third instalment of information about the exciting new X2 by Farr. Since its inception we have been excited about the project, if for no other reason than it stood up to be counted as a true racing boat. Posted on 17 May
Terry Hutchinson guests on the Happy Hour podcast
Executive Director and Skipper of America's Cup Challenger NYYC American Magic In this episode we hear from Terry Hutchinson, Executive Director and Skipper of America's Cup Challenger NYYC American Magic. We hear about hours of grinding, preparing for New Zealand amidst COVID-19, and Terry even tells the boys "to grow a pair"... Posted on 16 May
Cyclops Marine 2020 - FOOTERUpffront 2020 Foredeck Club SW FOOTERMelges 14 2019 Footer