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New developments in sail handling equipment

by Wichard Pacific 31 Aug 15:45 PDT
Profurl Locking system © Wichard Pacific

One of the two most important controls of sailboat handling is hoisting and dousing the sails.

Halyard systems on sailboat rigs have come a long way from the days of winches mounted on the mast or multiple winches on deck, each with a specific task. Rope clutches have been incorporated to spread the job to having fewer winches on deck but often this system is not up to the task on highly loaded rigs, particularly in regards to halyards on larger boats.

The use of an in-built or external halyard lock, lessens the compression load on the mast as well as providing other benefits. The halyard locking eye of the halyard lock connects to the head of a sail or swivel.

A halyard then goes through the locking device either fixed to the mast or externally hung on a strop from a mast tang. Once hoisted, the locking eye locates and locks into the receptacle. The benefits are as follows:

  • Half the normal mast compression compared to standard halyard
  • Higher sail luff tension is possible
  • Smaller halyards
  • No need for 2:1 halyard meaning faster hoisting
  • Easier foredeck handling
Facnor and Profurl developed their proven halyard lock systems on the prolific, French, "around the world" and other crewed and shorthanded race boats. The use of these halyard locks on the headsail is a common solution on superyachts and maxi boats but now also come into play on small and mid-sized boats.

These days many boats are using "flying sails" for downwind work and are commonly set up on a sail furling system. Profurl's Hybrid range uses the latest innovation of an external halyard locking device incorporated in a furler swivel. Ceramic bearings reduce friction and weight considerably. Using these extremely corrosion-resistant bearings enables Profurl to banish metal fastenings in favour of soft textile attachments.

Practically zero friction in the bearings means the swivel is less likely to twist the strop while furling. The range goes from 2 to 50 ton sizes. It is not difficult for your rigger to retrofit a halyard lock, either internal or external to an existing, standing rig.

Find out how a halyard lock can benefit your performance cruising or racing boat by viewing more information on the range on the Wichard Pacific website here.

See a demonstration of a halyard lock in use below.

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