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

Furling Systems: Options and Accessories

by Phil Anniss 12 Dec 2018 09:00 GMT
upffront.com look at furling systems © Facnor

When purchasing a furling system, there are several other considerations that need to be taken into account to ensure you have a fully operational furling system. Some are basic/essentials and others are optional extras.

Tack Fitting

Most drums come with either a D-shackle or snap shackle, however not all, so please check what comes as standard with your drum. If you plan to store the drum with the sail, then a snap shackle will the simplest and most efficient solution. However, if you plan to position your drum and leave it on deck for use with multiple sails then a standard D-shackles would be adequate.

There are other options, specifically for use in conjunction with locks – see section below.

Head Fitting

Most swivels will come with a D-shackle as standard. The primary consideration is whether you want to go for a 2:1 halyard setup.

The advantages of 2:1 halyard are:

  • Reduces the effective weight of pulling up the sail
  • Reduces the compression in the mast
  • Reduces load on fittings
  • Less load in the halyard clutch
  • Allows the use of a smaller halyard
Disadvantages:
  • 50% increase in halyard length
  • More halyard to pull through for the hoist
  • More halyard to store when hoisted
  • Replacing the halyard requires a trip up the mast

Some swivel manufacturers provide dedicated/integral 2:1 block options, however, it is possible to just lash a suitably sized block to the D-shackle.

Drum Lock/Ratchet

Continuous furling line systems, with a torsional cable, are not designed to be used partially furled. However, there is nothing more frustrating than losing the grip on the furling line 70% of the way through a furl and the whole thing unspinning in a flash! It is for this reason that ratchets, or drum locks, are an increasingly popular accessory.

Some manufacturers provide a removable drum lock as standard whereas others require a modified drum, so it is something that needs to be considered at the outset.

Furling Line

Essential, but easy to forget! Your continuous furler needs a continuous furling line – a loop of 6mm, 8mm or 10mm line.

Regardless of whether you are racing or cruising, a quality furling line with a tight cover is essential to ensure smooth running of the furling unit at all times. A loose cover building up at the entrance to the furling unit, causing a jam, can mean losing places at the bottom mark while racing but also creates a potentially dangerous situation if you cannot furl away a sail, just when you need to.

In addition to choosing a decent furling line there are several setup choices you need to make.

  • Foredeck or cockpit operation
    • On smaller boats where the unit can easily be furled by hand it is quite common to use a shorter furling line with a crew member furling from the foredeck
    • For short-handed sailing or on larger boats, the furling line is generally lead back to the cockpit where it can be put on a primary winch.
  • Shock cord take-up
    • Both foredeck and cockpit systems are often set-up with a shock cord take-up to keep the line neat when not in use
    • This consists of a simple piece of shock cord and a snatch block (allowing the furling line to run through it) which is tied back on at the mast base or pushpit.
  • Lead blocks
    • Cruising boats will often run their furling line along the stanchion bases and there are a variety of double fairleads available on the market.
    • However, these units tend to come on/off with the sail and whilst the drums are set up for quick/simple removal of the furling line from the drum many prefer to run the furling line direct, without lead blocks and use the shock cord to keep it clean.

Locks

An increasingly popular option, as more product variety becomes available on the market, is a furling lock. Locks have several advantages:

  • Reduced compression in the mast
  • Smaller halyard/hoist line
  • Less load and wear on halyards, sheaves and clutches
  • Fixed/consistent hoist height

The main perceived concern about using locks is getting the sail stuck aloft, however, technology has moved on considerably in recent years and race boats and superyachts can have many years of trouble free use. In addition, with a furling lock, a problem with lowering the sail is not a particular issue, assuming the sail can be furled.

Without a lock, the halyard is used to provide varying halyard tension. With a lock in use, an additional 2:1 or 3:1 purchase system is required between the drum and the deck to achieve the required load in the system. All the furling unit manufacturers have fittings for the bottom of the drum to allow for 2:1 or 3:1 purchases.

To get a complete guide to specifying and purchasing continuous line furling systems please download our Furling Systems guide.

Related Articles

Getting to Grips with Winch Handles
Considerations, current trends, alternatives... A winch handle is just a winch handle - right? It's true, but when buying a new one, there are a few things you need to consider. Posted on 17 Jun
Cleats, Clutches and Jammers
What's the difference? The following guide will examine cleats, clutches and jammers in turn, to enable you to determine the best option for securely holding a line on your boat. Posted on 14 Jun
Andersen Winch servicing
How do I find the manufacture date and version number? Andersen Winches are a big name in the boating business. Designed and manufactured in Denmark, Andersen Winches have earnt a reputation for building first class, high quality winches. Posted on 7 Jun
Jump Into a Career in Sailing
upffront.com are recruiting for several roles upffront.com are trying to revolutionise the sailing industry by turning the traditional distribution model on its head - and we are looking for new people to help us achieve our goals. Posted on 31 May
New in Genoa Sail Furling
Facnor LS/LX/RX available at upffront.com We've said it before, and we'll say it again: here at Upffront we are passionate about lighter, faster and safer sailing. As a result, we are constantly searching for performance orientated solutions that will optimise sailing for all. Posted on 24 May
nke Marine Electronics - Do I really need Wi-Fi?
Have your phone or tablet display wind, speed, and more More sailors are jumping on board with performance enhancing marine electronics than ever before, and we've had an influx of enquiries since adding nke Marine Electronics to upffront.com. Posted on 20 May
Measuring a Torsional Cable: Luff Length Troubles
Code Zero head and tack patches versus optimum luff length Previously on the upffront.com blog, we looked at how to measure a new torsional cable for your boat, and emphasised the importance of an accurate measurement to ensure a correct cable specification for your new code zero or downwind asymmetric. Posted on 15 May
Measuring Your Boat for a New Torsional Cable
Process for getting an accurate result You have decided to go for a new code zero or downwind asymmetric. To ensure the furling system fits your boat, it is important to take a physical measurement of the maximum space available from the drum to the full hoist position. Posted on 10 May
Furling Drum Locks - to lock, or not to lock?
Advantages, drawbacks, and different methods to use There is somewhat of a debate over the use of drum locks on a continuous line furling drum. As it says on the tin, a drum lock is designed to lock a continuous line furling drum in place, in order to prevent accidental unfurling. Posted on 3 May
Explore the Spinlock Rope Clutch Range
Some of the best high-performance clutches on the market: XAS, XTS, XCS Exploring the Spinlock range, the XAS rope clutch is a multi-role clutch with excellent performance across a wide rope range. It comes in two sizes: 4mm – 8mm, which has a maximum load of 400KG, and 6mm – 12mm, which has a maximum load of 575KG. Posted on 26 Apr