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Is it worth paying the money for better running rigging?

by Phil Anniss 7 Dec 2018 09:00 UTC
Is it worth paying the money for better running rigging? © Sven Jürgensen / Mittelmann’s Werft

What is the cost versus benefit trade-off for running rigging options on a 25 ft sailing boat? We take a look at three running rigging specs, from budget to full performance racing, and investigate whether the increase in cost is justified by the performance benefits.

We asked an expert rigger to work up some generic running rigging specs for a 25 foot weekend cruiser, club racer and grand prix race campaign, based on the Gottifredi Maffioli ranges. His recommended lines (and diameters) are summarised in the table below.

RiggingCruiseClub RaceGP Race
Main HalyardT90 (6mm)Powersprint (6mm)DSK78 Race POLY (6mm)
Jib HalyardT90 (6mm)Powersprint (6mm)DSK78 Race POLY (6mm)
Spi HalyardT90 (6mm)Powersprint (6mm)DSK78 Race DYCO (6mm)
MainsheetT90 (8mm)Airswift (8mm)Swiftcord (8mm)
Jib sheetsT90 (8mm)Airswift (8mm)Superswift (8mm)
Spi sheetsT90 (8mm)Airswift (8mm)Superswift (8mm)

For the purposes of our package comparison, each boat got the same fittings: Ronstan main halyard shackle, Ronstan snap shackles for Jib/Spi halyards and Dyneema® Loop shackles for the sheets.

Cruise

T90 is a double braid construction with a polyester core and 100% polyester cover. Gottifredi Maffioli uses a heat treatment process on its polyester to produce a very low stretch.

Club Race

To improve halyard performance over the T90, Powersprint has a full Dyneema® SK78 core, but the same H.T. Polyester cover as the T90. The use of Airswift in the sheets provides a significant weight advantage as its core is made from hollow filament fibres called "Aircore". The Dyneema® + non-slip fibre braided cover provides excellent grip with good abrasion resistance. It is also easily tapered by removing the core for the last 1.5m and 4m of the jib and spi sheets respectively.

GP Race

In the Grandprix race version, the main and jib halyards have been upgraded to the DSK78 Race range with a generic H.T. Polyester cover. The SK78 core of the Gottifredi Maffioli Race range has been heat set to increase its strength and further reduce its stretch. The DYCO cover for the spi halyard is a Dyneema® + Cordura® mix which is very lightweight with very good abrasion resistance and grip in cleats. The use of the single braid, Dyneema® + non-slip fibre, Swiftcord, for the mainsheet provides a very strong, lightweight line with good grip and very soft feel for constant, comfortable adjustment by the helmsman. Finally Superswift, for the jib and spi sheets, is a double braid with an SK78 core and Dyneema + non-slip fibre cover. This line is strong, lightweight with good abrasion resistance and easily tapered (as per Club spec).

Summary

To compare cost versus benefit for these three packages we decided to look at total rope weight (ex fittings which are identical across all packages) and average line strength. The results can be summarised in the following table:


(N.B. Prices shown are approx RRP package values for line and labour - excluding fittings)

Taking the Cruise spec as the baseline, the data reveals some interesting values:

  • This particular Club Race spec is Dyneema® but only provides an overall 9% strength/stiffness improvement over the all Polyester T90 Cruise spec. (This is primarily driven by the choice of Airswift for the sheets which has been chosen for its soft hand, grip, abrasion resistance and lightweight, rather than its ultimate strength.)
  • The Club Race package weight is 22% lighter than the Cruise spec.
  • If we add the x2 factors (strength and weight) together we get a nominal 31% performance improvement versus a 36% price increase - not bad!
  • Comparing the GP Race spec with the Club race we see 0% weight improvement but a significant 61% improvement in average package strength, for only a 46% price increase - good value!
  • Finally, comparing the GP Race with the Cruise specs. and combining the two performance factors we see a 98% performance improvement compared to a 99% price difference - spooky!

Conclusions

  • Using readily available manufacturer supplied data, it is surprisingly easy to establish a quantitive basis for comparing core performance characteristics of different running rigging packages.
  • The choice of Airswift for the Club Race sheets might provide significant weight and handling benefits but appears to "let the Club package down", from an overall performance perspective (relative to price), as it has a significantly lower strength than the T90 sheets.
  • The performance of the GP Race spec more than justifies the price increase over the Club Race package
  • And comparing the GP Race package with the Cruise - you get double the performance for double the price, which seems sensible.

More Information or need a quote?

If you have any questions or would like to get a tailored running rigging proposal for your boat, you can contact us using our running rigging enquiry form.

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