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

Alphalock Halyard Locks - Simply the Best?

by Phil Anniss 17 Sep 2020 16:00 UTC
Alphalock Halyard Lock © alphalock

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"! Eric has taken all his years' experience and channeled them into producing an ultra-simple, lightweight and adaptable halyard locking mechanism.

Upffront.com sat down with Eric to discuss his new technology and he started by describing where the name came from. "I was throwing around a few ideas but then it just hit me: 'Alpha', which means 'dominant' or 'leader of the pack'........ which is exactly what we are aiming to be. It also gets you at the top of any alphabetical list, which is a bonus!"

External / hanging "Block Lock"

Engineered by Eric himself, the most notable feature of this all-Titanium lock is its utter simplicity. Two side plates, x4 bolts and a single moving part, called the "Flipper", which simply rotates in the case to lock and unlock the compact Titanium bullet.

As an external hanging block lock, the Alphalock is fixed to the mast with a lashing or strop and the halyard passes up through the lock and then either directly down to the deck or into a halyard sheave on the mast. You can refer to our previous blog article on external locks for more information on the operation of these trip-less locks.

Internal lock

The original Alphalock design was symmetrical in shape and used x2 rotating flippers, one on either side of the halyard/bullet. However, with a simple modification to the design; to one flat side and one flipper, it becomes a clever, modular design. The same body can be used as both an external, hanging "Block lock" or attached to the inside of the mast wall to become an internal halyard lock. All that is required is a simple backing plate and an additional x4 bolts for the lock to be easily mounted on the mast wall, below the halyard sheave. The lock body fits through the hole to allow the lock to be retro-fitted from the outside and the universal bullet is designed to fit over the halyard sheave.

Halyards vs Hoist lines

Another interesting feature is that the Alphalock is designed to be used with standard sized halyards. One of the stated benefits for many lock systems is the reduction in weight due to the use of small diameter hoist lines. The argument is that once on the lock, it takes all the sailing loads and you only need a strong enough line to take the weight of the sail, while it is being hoisted.

However, unless you have a lock which uses a trip line release mechanism to unlock the halyard, the sail needs to be hoisted to release, which is where it can get tricky. If you are trying to unlock a fully powered code zero or asymmetric with a small trip line, this can be quite a challenge and line breakages are not unknown. With a simple, reliable mechanism and full-sized halyards, the Alphalock provides a very robust solution which inspires confidence.

Maintenance

With only one moving part, wear on the flipper is the only likely periodic maintenance requirement. However, the lock can be disassembled in a matter of minutes and the flipper is small and relatively inexpensive, which means this product scores highly in terms of ease of repair and maintenance.

Flexible, modular design

The Alphalock standard range consists of 6 sizes based on Safe Working Load (SWL): 1.5, 3, 5, 6, 9 and 12 tons and designed to take maximum halyard diameters of 6, 8, 10, 12, 14 and 16mm respectively. At each size there is one body, one flipper, one bullet and the option of a backing plate for internal installation on a mast or boom. It is very rare when you can find a single product which can be used as an internal or external halyard lock and then it is just as valid as an internal/external reef lock or even a headsail tackline.

The same technology is also incorporated into a range of custom and semi-custom mainsail headboard locking mechanisms but this is way beyond the scope of this article. Suffice it to say, the mechanics of this system are totally scalable and whether it is a 5T or 50T SWL, the single flipper design remains the same.

Summary

It takes a lot of effort to design-in simplicity / flexibility and it has taken Eric Hall more years than he would care to admit, to create this innovative block design. Asked to sum up the advantages of the Alphalock, his succinct answer was in-keeping with the product: "hyper-simple, full sized halyards and years of lock experience."

If you would like to get more information on the Alphalock range you can do so here or if you have any questions or require further information on halyard locking systems please contact us: Lock systems on upffront.com

Related Articles

Ronstan Cam Cleats
Lighter, stronger and kinder to ropes Simple, reliable and extremely versatile, Cam Cleats are a staple on boats of all sizes, either as the primary rope holding solution on dinghies, or as part of a purchase system on larger boats and yachts. Posted on 15 Jan
Harken Small Boat Furler range
From 14ft dinghy to 30ft sportsboat there's a model for you Harken have a dedicated range of furlers for dinghies and keelboats up to 30ft (3mm, 5mm and 6mm diameter forestays). These are what upffront.com would term "structural furlers", in that they are an integral part of the main forestay. Posted on 1 Jan
Harken Radial versus Performa Winches
Phil Anniss from upffront.com talks about the differences Harken have an extensive range of winches which are split into two primary ranges: Radial and Performa. In this blog we help you understand the key differences between these ranges and guide you to the right choice for you and your boat's needs. Posted on 23 Dec 2020
New product launch - Karver V3 Furlers
A major redesign of the entire KF continuous line furler range Karver have just released details of a major redesign of their entire KF continuous line furler range. Almost 20 years of end user feedback and manufacturing experience have been brought together in this extensive upgrade. Posted on 18 Dec 2020
Improve your Race Starts
Velocitek V2 ProStart is the distillation of more than a decade of experience The new Velocitek V2 ProStart is the distillation of more than a decade of experience and customer feedback building stand-alone, GPS-based, distance-to-line starting aids. It's all about time and distance. Posted on 10 Dec 2020
How Long is my Furling Line?
Guide to estimating when you can't measure It's a simple question but if you are buying a new furler or need to organise a replacement furling line and do not have access to measure it....... how long should it be!? Posted on 3 Dec 2020
Continuous versus Discontinuous Standing Rigging
Looking at the differences, and pros/cons of both types Regardless of material choice (wire, rod or composite), there are two main types of lateral rigging configurations, referred to as Discontinuous or Continuous rigging. Posted on 26 Nov 2020
Celebrating curves with the LOOP Flexi Stick-on
These padeyes can stick to a curved surface, and take a lot of weight You would probably agree that there are very few flat surfaces on a sailing yacht, whereas most hardware bases are flat. Using modern materials and construction methods, the innovative LOOP Flexi Stick-on padeye offers some interesting possibilities. Posted on 19 Nov 2020
Straight Talking
Mast and standing rigging terminology from upffront.com Upffront.com is all about performance sailing hardware and rigging systems. The heart, and driving force, of any sailing yacht is its mast and standing rigging which support the sails. In this article we outline the key terminology. Posted on 12 Nov 2020
Composite Standing Rigging
Material options discussed by upffront.com Having established the significant advantages of reducing rigging weight, next we would like to look at the composite rigging options available on the market. However, before we get to that point, we need to take a little diversion. Posted on 5 Nov 2020
Upffront 2020 Foredeck Club SW FOOTER