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Upffront 2020 Foredeck Club SW LEADERBOARD

The C-Tech SnuffAir - Lighter than Air

by Aleix Escorsell 26 Aug 09:00 PDT
The C-Tech SnuffAir © Jesus Renedo

With large sails, strong winds and small crews, even the most experienced sailors need some extra help. The C-Tech SnuffAir snuffer allows larger sailboats to more easily manage spinnakers in a safe, controlled way.

A traditional snuffer is made up of a sock, that encases the spinnaker, and a hard plastic/glassfibre hoop at the base. The sail is hoisted to the masthead, safely contained within the sock. When the crew is ready, the hoop is raised, using an internal snuffer halyard, which releases the sail and allows it to fill. To dowse the sail, the sheets are eased and the hoop and sock are pulled down; the sail is forced back into the sock, after which the sail can be safely lowered to the deck.

On smaller boats, the GRP hoop/ring of the snuffer can be relatively small. It does not weigh much and doesn't take up much space in the sailbag. However, as boat/sail size increases, the diameter of the hoop gets larger which requires a significantly greater structure and weight to take the loads to manage the sail. This makes it much harder to handle and also takes up considerable space. These problems with increasingly large spinnakers snuffers is what inspired C-Tech to create their inflatable SnuffAir.

Established in 1997 in Auckland, New Zealand, C-Tech started off making carbon components for small sailing boats. They developed a specialist range of carbon battens for grand prix race boats and superyachts which have become the industry benchmark. Now they are applying their custom composite expertise across several industries, including marine, telecommunications and aerospace, staying true to the company's mission to 'make cool things go fast'.

Benefits of the C-Tech SnuffAir

The C-Tech SnuffAir uses an inflatable bladder rather than a hard plastic ring to snuff the sail. The bladder is covered with several protective layers and is attached to the sock. This ingenious innovation provides a wide range of benefits.

Lighter and Safer

An air bladder is much lighter than a hard plastic ring which means it's much faster and easier to pull up or down the spinnaker. A lighter ring also reduces the chance of damage to the mast, spinnaker or other equipment if the ring was to bang against your rig.

Reduce storage

The SnuffAir can take up to 5 times less space than a traditional plastic ring, giving you significant space saving advantages and meaning that you can store it away, down the fore hatch, no matter the size.

Durable

You may be worried that an inflatable bladder has a higher risk of being damaged, but C-Tech has used three layers of high-tech material to deal with impacts, friction, and chafe. The first layer is a slippery chafe guard that makes it easier to snuff the sail and reduced friction between the sock and the spinnaker. The second layer is flexible Kevlar which protects the bladder from damage from the rig or rope friction. The third layer is a heat insulation layer. Friction from the snuffing of a large spinnaker can create a huge amount of heat, but this layer ensures that the system is protected.

N.B. C-Tech includes patch repair kits, in the unlikely event the bladder does get punctured.

Easy to inflate / deflate

The C-Tech bladder uses a universal Boston valve which can easily be inflated by anyone on board using a boat or kite pump or compressed air. The deflation valve ensures that the bladder cannot be over inflated and quickly deflates the bladder when needed.

The Sock

The Sock is made of a lightweight polyester material with incremental hoops going up the length of the sock (on the larger sizes) to keep the snuffer straight and prevent bunching. The SnuffAir uses a coloured sightline along the length of the sock to help you and your crew to see twists and help when packing the kite. The sock is breathable to prevent moisture damage, but should be dried out when not in use.

The snuffer is pulled up and down using a halyard system which attaches to the ring and goes up the length of the spinnaker to a dyneema head strop.

Sizing

The C-Tech SnuffAir comes in 7 sizes, the 01C and 01D sizes are blue and the 02,03,04, 05 and 05B sizes are white with a red sightline.

SnuffAir SizeSpinnaker Size (m2)Max Spin Leech (m)Sock Tube Dia (mm)Bladder Dims (mm)Control Lines Dia (mm) Approx. bag size (mm)
01C100 – 199< 21110430 x 3001060 x 40 x 17
01D200 – 399< 24140575 x 3001060 x 40 x 25
02400 – 599< 33175700 x 3501060 x 40 x 42
03600 – 1099< 45175900 x 4501260 x 40 x 45
041100 – 1799< 551751100 x 6501280 x 78 x 33
051800 – 2399< 552301300 x 6501298 x 98 x 23
05B2400 +< 652301300 x 650 (x2)12 

For a full tour of the C-Tech SnuffAir, check out this video from C-Tech's Fraser Brown

The C-Tech SnuffAir was originally designed to solve handling issues for large racing and cruising boats but the benefits of the inflatable system are now available to much smaller boats from 40ft.

If you have any questions about the C-Tech SnuffAir, then please do not hesitate to contact us at . To get more detailed information see C-Tech SnuffAir on upffront.com.

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