Please select your home edition
Edition
Upffront 2020 Foredeck Club SW LEADERBOARD

Sailboat Load Data - Optimising Hardware and Rigging Design

by Phil Anniss 30 Jul 16:00 UTC
Sailboat Load Data - Optimising Hardware and Rigging Design © Cyclops Marine

Find out just how far we still have to go in terms of understanding yacht mast and rigging loads, and why they are so important to the specification of sailing hardware and rigging systems.

Computer Aided Design

Yacht rigging and hardware design starts with some pretty fancy computer design tools, e.g. Finite Element Analysis (FEA) and Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD). With all that computer power behind it, the expectation is that we must be approaching some super-optimised designs. In some areas we are, but in many others the colourful computer images hide an uncomfortable truth: these powerful models are only as good as the technical assumptions they are built on.

When you start to dig into these models, some of the core assumptions used are based on rule-of-thumb estimates, which have evolved over the last 30-50 years, rather than scientifically verified fact. Sometimes the computer model is tweaked until it delivers the expected outcome, which conforms to perceived wisdom of what should work!

There are two primary reasons why these assumptions have yet to be validated: a) a lack of available data on the complex dynamic loads at work in the sailing environment and b) the resources required to do the extensive, structured R&D.

Before everyone starts panicking, this is not to say that existing hardware and rigging is badly designed or not fit for purpose - it is. However, it has been designed based on years of trial and error rather than accurate computational design. The upside is that these powerful computer models may yet deliver significant future performance gains, if their core assumptions can be properly tested and validated.

And why is this search for increased performance relevant to everyday sailors?

At upffront.com, "performance" doesn't necessarily mean coming first at the top mark, or maximum foiling speed, it means removing weight where it is not needed whilst making sure the fitting or rigging element is strong enough to do the job.

A fitting which is over-specified will be safe, strong and last a long time, but it adds additional weight which in turn puts unnecessary load into the system. On the other hand, a fitting that is underspecified will be nice and light but it will be working at a higher percentage of its designed break load, which means it will fatigue more quickly and possibly fail. So optimising our hardware and rigging design is about creating lighter and faster YET safer sailing - a win-win for all sailors.

So how do we optimise rigging and deck hardware?

If you take a look across the upffront.com website you will notice that the most common product attribute is Safe Working Load (SWL), because this is THE primary specification criteria for most sailing hardware and rigging. But, do you know what the real load is in your jib sheet or main halyard? If you don't, then how do you make the right hardware choice?

Most of the time people use existing hardware as a guide, e.g. I need a block for a 10mm line, or something with an 8mm pin diameter. But every time you modify your boat, whether you get new, stiffer sails or add that dishwasher down below, you have an impact on the loads on your sailing systems. The only way we can improve hardware specification and optimisation is to have access to REAL load data.

Traditionally, load sensing technology has been expensive and difficult to install/maintain, with questionable data quality, due to calibration problems. Thankfully however, wireless technology, the proliferation of hand-held devices plus simple software interfaces have lead to some interesting innovation in the last few years.

Summary

Upffront.com is all about performance hardware and rigging systems and, to that end, we are passionate about understanding rig loads. In future articles we will go into more detail on some of the great products currently available on our website in our new, dedicated Load Sensing category - Browse the full range of Load Sensors.

If you have any questions about your rig loads or hardware and rigging specification, please do not hesitate to contact us at

Related Articles

Composite rigging benefits
A 75% weight saving can transform performance Upffront.com is constantly striving for lighter, faster and safer sailing for all boat owners, regardless of sailing style. Composite (or synthetic) rigging is one of the biggest and most cost-effective performance improvements that you can make. Posted on 22 Oct
Torsional Ropes Versus Cables
Noting the all-important point at which you should change between them In this blog we explore the differences between Torsional Ropes and Custom Torsional Cables, the pros and cons of each and provide guidance on the specification boundaries between the two. Posted on 16 Oct
Adding a Staysail?
Inner forestay setup options discussed by upffront.com Are you considering upgrading your sail plan to include a staysail? It is an increasingly popular choice, offering considerable performance benefits. In this article we focus on the various setup options. Posted on 8 Oct
Improve Your Sailing Performance
Three simple, cost-effective upgrades from upffront.com Reducing weight should be every sailors goal, no matter what their sailing style. One kilogram removed from the mast and rigging package is equivalent to adding 4kg to the keel. So, reducing weight aloft increases your stability. Posted on 1 Oct
Stripping and recovering yacht ropes
Upffront.com look at when, where and why The majority of yacht ropes are double braid construction i.e. with a core and braided cover. The purpose of this cover is to protect the core from general chafe, abrasion and UV damage but also to provide grip. Posted on 23 Sep
Alphalock Halyard Locks
Simply the best? A close look from upffront.com The Alphalock brand is a relative newcomer on the sailing hardware scene but its CEO, Eric Hall - founder of Hall Spars and inventor of their renowned Hall Autolocks - is anything but "the new kid on the block"! Posted on 17 Sep
Sailboat Hardware Soft Attachments
Fad or paradigm shift? There is an increasing trend towards soft attachment of sailing hardware and rigging i.e. using a lashing or soft loop, however they are not a catch-all solution. Posted on 10 Sep
Live Rig Load Data at Your Fingertips
Cyclops Marine Smartlink reviewed by upffront.com In a previous article we looked at the benefits of having live forestay load data using the Cyclops Marine Smarttune load sensor. Now we take a closer look at the sister product, often used in combination with the Smarttune, called the Smartlink. Posted on 3 Sep
An Innovative Twist to the Stick-on Padeye
LOOP Products available at upffront.com Padeyes are a multi-purpose attachment point, traditionally made of steel and bolted directly on to the deck. With a significant shift to soft connections over the last 5-10 years, the humble padeye has been through its own transformation. Posted on 28 Aug
Nine uses for Millionaire's tape
Excellent value for money, despite the name PROtect Mask, commonly known as 'Millionaire's tape' in many sailing circles, has been an essential part of riggers toolkits for years. Posted on 21 Aug
Upffront 2020 Foredeck Club SW FOOTER