Please select your home edition
upffront 2018 Ronstan shock blocks Leaderboard

Composite Backstays - Your Quick Fix for Maximum Performance

by Kerri Robson 24 Jun 09:00 BST
Scandinavia 35 Backstay © Ronstan

Previously - in this article - we introduced our range of new Kohlhoff composite backstays, manufactured from Gottifredi Maffioli's lightweight - but incredibly strong - Ultrawire.

Since then, we've increased our product offering even further, and added a high-performance range of Armare Ropes backstays to our standing rigging. Following this addition, we have decided to take another look at the ins and outs of composite backstays, and the benefits they provide.

The backstay is an essential component of the standing rigging on nearly all modern sailing yachts. It is not just there to keep the rig upright, but is also our primary control for adjusting the rig while sailing.

A properly designed and adjustable backstay system is key to sailing fast and safely through changing weather conditions. Switching from a wire or rod backstay to a composite backstay or runner is also one of the simplest ways of achieving a quick performance upgrade. Lighter, stronger, kinder and safer, composite backstays have tonnes of benefits - more information in our previous article.

What are my options?

Kohlhoff Range:

The perfect small boat solution, the Kohlhoff Ultrawire Backstay range is the ideal balance of quality, performance and cost.

Produced from Gottifredi Maffiloli's Ultrawire - which has a high performance SK99 core and a tightly braided Dyneema cover - it has superb resistance, and a long lifespan. They are made to your custom length requirements by cutting the material off the roll and splicing both ends by professional riggers.

Their size limitation is due to the material (braided core) and the fact that their strength is dependent on the spliced ends. There is a natural cross-over to a more bespoke, custom composite cable for boats at around 40-45ft

For this Ultrawire range, we are offering finished cables (8m - 21m) in standardised metre increments.

Armare Ropes Range:

Our new Armare Ropes Backstay range is suitable for boats 45ft+ and available in three different core materials:

  • K49 - The 'value' composite solution: very stiff, but slightly heavier and bigger diameter. A solid cruising product.
  • SK99 - Mid-way in terms of overall performance and price.
  • PBO - The ultimate low weight and windage solution, but with the highest price.

All Armare backstays are wound from a single fibre tow around two end fittings, to form a unidirectional composite cable. Each cable is custom made in the factory to very high length tolerances and build quality.

The complete Armare range is available on the website (from 12m - 25m, in all three core materials) in standardised half metre increments, however your cable will be finished in the factory to your exact length requirements.

To summarise, composite backstays:

  • Offer a significant weight reduction
  • Increase sailing performance
  • Are a quick and simple changeout
  • Are stronger and safer
  • Are kinder to the leach of your mainsail
  • Offer various solutions with a balance between safety, quality and price

Think composite backstays are a no-brainer? Explore our full range of backstays here, or get in touch with us using our running rigging enquiry form for further advice and help.

Related Articles

Ino-ending - The end of the line?
Simplicity is key with these blocks When it comes to the Ino-block range, the manufacturer firmly believes that simplicity is key, and Upffront tends to agree with them. Posted on 13 Nov
A Halyard Swivel, Top Swivel or just a Swivel? explain the options available There are many types of swivels used on board boats, several of which are mounted on halyards, however, the term "Halyard Swivel" is reserved for one specific application. Posted on 7 Nov
How to change the cover on a Cousin Constrictor
A lightweight alternative to traditional metal clutches Created as a lightweight alternative to traditional metal clutches, the Cousin Constrictor© is a great bit of kit for reliably holding rope under load with great longevity when properly maintained. Posted on 30 Oct
The Facnor Flatfurl Structural Furler
Keeps the foot of the jib/genoa closer to the deck Facnor Furling Systems are a French manufacturer with over 30 years dedicated to all forms of onboard furling systems for ocean racers and cruising sailors alike. Posted on 24 Oct
What makes Superswift rope so super?
Take a close look at this versatile offering from Gottifredi Maffioli Superswift, from leading rope makers Gottifredi Maffioli, is a favourite among performance dinghy sailors and big boat sailors alike. When you take a closer look at the features of this versatile rope, it's not difficult to see why... Posted on 16 Oct
One Design PROtect Tapes
A set of cut pieces tailored to your class PROtect Tapes are a broad range of high-quality protection tapes for dinghies, racing, cruising and super yachts. PROtect Tapes provides a pro-active solution to chafe and wear prevention. It enhances performance and ultimately promotes safer sailing. Posted on 10 Oct
Practical tips on cruising halyard locks
Bouncing to avoid damage Halyard locks are almost universally accepted in racing circles and are becoming increasingly popular with long distance cruisers, as they recognise the significant benefits. Posted on 2 Oct
Baby Karver Furler KF 0.9
The smallest furler manufactured by Karver, for boats under 30ft Launched this year, this is the smallest furler manufactured by Karver. With a Safe Working Load (SWL) of 900kg, it is suitable for small cruisers and sportsboats up to a maximum of 30 ft. Posted on 26 Sep
Karver KJ Jammer
Releasable under (low) load combined with the reliability of a high load jammer French hardware manufacturer, Karver has been active in the French offshore sailing scene (IMOCA and offshore multihull) since its inception in 2004. Their reputation is based on developing a range of innovative products. Posted on 18 Sep
What is a top down adapter?
A tack swivel is a popular evolution of the top-down furling system The top-down adapter, also known as a tack swivel, is an increasingly popular evolution of the top-down furling system. This technique provides cruisers and racers alike, simplicity, safety and speed for the handling of loose luff sails. Posted on 12 Sep