Please select your home edition
Edition
Upffront 2020 Foredeck Club LEADERBOARD

Harken Reflex Furler - Always adapting to stay ahead of the game

by Aleix Escorsell 9 Apr 2020 09:00 BST
Harken Reflex Furler © Harken

Blocks, winches, travellers and a whole range of other systems... Harken has been a market leader in the sailing industry for over 40 years and is a household name among sailors.

They consistently deliver great quality products and are known for their extensive distribution network and customer service. However, despite their extensive product range, Harken didn't actually release their own continuous line furling system until 2016.

Enter the Harken Reflex™ furler

When Harken joined the continuous line furler market, they wanted to bring their own innovations to the table, to create something unique compared to the competition. They came up with two key points of difference:

Reflex Torsion cable

The first opportunity they saw was to improve torsional cable performance. A lack of torsional stiffness can lead to "corkscrewing" in the cable which can result in partial or uneven furling and creates a lag in furling speed. To combat this, Harken developed a torsional cable that would immediately deliver torque through the cable to the head swivel. They achieved this by braiding stainless steel wire over a Dyneema® core. They certainly achieved an extremely torsionally stiff cable but, as with all things, there was a price to pay, which was increased cable weight versus alternative solutions on the market.

Interchangeable fittings

Having come relatively late to continuous line furlers, Harken had the advantage of observing the changing trends in the market. More established manufacturers had been through a transition from dedicated bottom-up drums and then the introduction of top-down furling. Cable sizes are very different between bottom-up and top-down which requires very different jaw widths in the furler which can cause issues with drum versus cable compatibility. Harken could also see the increasingly popular trend towards the use of top-down tack swivels.

To address this problem and create flexibility/redundancy in their design, Harken introduced furling units with a quick release fitting and a variety of attachments to allow one drum to fulfil multiple applications. So simple!

Enter the Cableless era

A year or so after the launch of the Reflex furler, another significant development started to emerge in code zero furling. Big names like Doyle and North sails were working at "cableless" sails to remove the need for a torsional cable completely.

The pros and cons of cableless code zeros are beyond the scope of this article but suffice it to say, there is an increasing trend in this direction with more and more sailmakers introducing this technology into their sail wardrobe recommendations.

Harken were quick to react

With the Reflex's quick release system, all that Harken had to do was create a tack plate fitting that could be sewn into the tack of the cableless sail. This fitting is permanently attached to the sail and lives in the sail bag when it is not in use. The furling drum is then free to be used for other sails.

Interestingly, one advantage of cableless is that it is no longer necessary to tension a stiff, torsional cable to ensure a good furl, which puts less load on the furler. This means that these furlers can be used on a wider range of boat and sail sizes than Harken had ever envisioned.

The terminal is sewn directly into each sail and allows for much easier storage and movement of the sail, without the need of Harken's steel torsional cable.

Harken entered the furling market with some innovative, bold ideas. While the idea to use steel to reinforce the torsional cable created a weight penalty, the quick release fitting has allowed Harken to quickly increase the applicability of the furler to a wider range of boats and sailing systems.

Their ability to read the market and adapt to new innovations shows why, after 50 years, they are still world leaders.

Hear what sailors have to say about the Harken Reflex cable-free code zero.

If you are interested in learning more about Harken see the full range on our website or alternatively download the upffront.com "Furling System - Overview" document.

Related Articles

Mantagua's Certified NAVIPRO Navigation Lights
Products enabling lighter, faster and safer sailing from upffront.com Lighter, faster and safer sailing is our mantra. Thus, we're excited to launch our new product category - Navigation Lights - on Upffront.com, to keep you safe at sea. Posted on 6 May
Karver KF V3 Furler Accessories Guide
upffront.com help you identify what will fit best into your set-up The Karver KF V3 range is now available at upffront.com and with this latest iteration of their popular KF furlers, Karver have moved away from dedicated top-down drums in favour of a more flexible modular system. Posted on 29 Apr
The LOOP Boa Constrictor Clutch
Maximise your deck space - build vertically! Deck space is prime real estate on a sailboat, with clutches and jammers vying for space, often on narrow areas such as the cabin top or mast. So what do you do if you can't fit any more clutches to your deck? Build vertically! Posted on 22 Apr
Horizontal, Vertical or Compact Motor?
Electric sailboat winch options examined by upffront.com You've chosen to upgrade from a manual winch to an electric winch. Now, you need to decide on motor placement. This is a critical design decision which largely depends on your boat's available space below deck. Posted on 15 Apr
MORFRAC and 3D Printing
A success story, investigated by upffront.com In recent years, 3D printing has revolutionised manufacturing processes. Expiring patents have caused 3D printing costs to plunge and quality to soar, granting opportunities for small-scale manufacturers to experiment - and excel - with 3D printing. Posted on 9 Apr
Lewmar EVO Winches - Made to Last
Flagship winch range is an evolution of 'the most popular winch ever made' Lewmar's flagship EVO® winch range is an evolution of their Ocean range which they claim is the most popular winch ever made. This is due to their widespread use by volume boat builders who prioritise ease of use / maintenance and reliability. Posted on 2 Apr
A Truly Unique Proposition
Karver winches seamlessly change between 4 gears without any switch Karver are relatively new to the world of sailboat winches but they are bringing something completely different to the market. Their KSW Speed and KPW Power winch ranges can offer some dramatic advantages. Posted on 25 Mar
What size electric sailboat winch do I need?
upffront.com consider application and load When choosing an electric winch, there are four main factors to consider: speed (1, 2 or 3), motor placement, drum material and size. In this article, we'll focus on size. Posted on 18 Mar
The nke Multidisplay
All your boat data in one place GPS, navigation data, wind data, boat speed, heel, rig loads etc. Onboard electronics are far more accurate and capable than ever before, so sailors are able to charge and depend on more electronic systems. Posted on 11 Mar
Andersen's Electric Winch Range
Quality cruising with elegant, stainless steel winches that last a lifetime Andersen Winches are iconic. Often considered the benchmark for quality, Andersen's elegant, stainless steel winches take pride of place on the foredeck. Underneath the stainless steel exterior, an internal construction manufactured from aluminium bronze. Posted on 4 Mar