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Old 09-05-2013, 11:57   #1
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High-end vs. low-end line?

I'm in the market for a new set of spinnaker sheets and it's been a while since I've purchased any running rigging. OEM spec for my boat (a Catalina 36) is 7/16" moderate-grade cruising line, something like Samson XLS or Trophy Braid, which have average strengths of 5,800 and 4,000 lbs., respectively).

For approximately the same price as 7/16" XLS, I could get an equally strong 1/4" line of a much higher-end rope (I'm looking at Control-DPX, which Samson rates to 5,600 lbs. in 1/4"). I like the idea of a lighter-weight and smaller line, but wondering if there are disadvantages I haven't thought through.

What are the trade-offs in choosing a high-end line at a smaller diameter vs. a weaker, lower-end line at a larger diameter, for the same average strength?

Thanks!
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Old 09-05-2013, 12:03   #2
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Re: High-end vs. low-end line?

The problem with a smaller line is handling. 1/4" for a spin sheet on a 36' boat is going to be hard to hold, and it's possible that a self-tailing winch won't be able to grip it.

You need a minimum diameter for handling ability -- I would think the 7/16" spec'd for your boat is about right. Play with some lines to find out what works best for you.
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Old 09-05-2013, 12:07   #3
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The biggest problem I see with that small a diameter for sheets is that your hands would hate you for it.
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Old 09-05-2013, 12:19   #4
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Re: High-end vs. low-end line?

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Originally Posted by SaltyBard View Post
The biggest problem I see with that small a diameter for sheets is that your hands would hate you for it.
Maybe, though I suspect you are right. This is something I'm curious about. I used to sail dinghies with really small diameter sheets -- why would it be different on a bigger boat? I guess the great loads are the issue.

After the last two posts, I looked up my winches on Lewmar's web site and realized that I need at least 5/16" to self-tail... The high-tech lines at 5/16 are a lot more $$ than the low-tech ones at 7/16". Oh well.
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Old 09-05-2013, 12:33   #5
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Re: High-end vs. low-end line?

HUGE difference in force on your sail, thus your hands between your dink and the 36'!
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Old 09-05-2013, 12:33   #6
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Re: High-end vs. low-end line?

You will have to wear gloves on thin line... And they just don't look cool.

Go the thicker line.
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Old 09-05-2013, 12:44   #7
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Re: High-end vs. low-end line?

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Originally Posted by FlyMeAway View Post
I'm in the market for a new set of spinnaker sheets and it's been a while since I've purchased any running rigging. OEM spec for my boat (a Catalina 36) is 7/16" moderate-grade cruising line, something like Samson XLS or Trophy Braid, which have average strengths of 5,800 and 4,000 lbs., respectively).

For approximately the same price as 7/16" XLS, I could get an equally strong 1/4" line of a much higher-end rope (I'm looking at Control-DPX, which Samson rates to 5,600 lbs. in 1/4"). I like the idea of a lighter-weight and smaller line, but wondering if there are disadvantages I haven't thought through.

What are the trade-offs in choosing a high-end line at a smaller diameter vs. a weaker, lower-end line at a larger diameter, for the same average strength?

Thanks!
Setting aside the line diameter comments, which I completely agree with, I'd say you also consider that having lines that have failure points several times your sail is silly. This is even more true when you dollars could be spent better.
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Old 09-05-2013, 12:46   #8
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Re: High-end vs. low-end line?

Bummer. I was hoping to go single-braid instead of double-braid for these sheets, but at the bigger diameters hard to justify the expense. Looks like it'll be XLS or Trophy (or possibly MLX)
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Old 09-05-2013, 12:48   #9
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Re: High-end vs. low-end line?

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Setting aside the line diameter comments, which I completely agree with, I'd say you also consider that having lines that have failure points several times your sail is silly. This is even more true when you dollars could be spent better.
Agreed -- but does that mean you're saying that I can go even less than the ~4-5k lbs. that Catalina recommends for these sheets?

Is the real issue here that I should want larger-sized sheets just because they are easier to handle, and not because I actually need the strength?
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Old 09-05-2013, 12:51   #10
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Re: High-end vs. low-end line?

Look at the weight of the line, too. In light air, a lightweight spinnaker flies much better with lightweight sheets. This may justify the expense of a modern lightweight line.
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Old 09-05-2013, 12:53   #11
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Re: High-end vs. low-end line?

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Look at the weight of the line, too. In light air, a lightweight spinnaker flies much better with lightweight sheets. This may justify the expense of a modern lightweight line.
Yeah, that was an idea behind the small diameter line too -- keep it as lightweight as possible...
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Old 09-05-2013, 12:59   #12
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Re: High-end vs. low-end line?

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Originally Posted by FlyMeAway View Post
Agreed -- but does that mean you're saying that I can go even less than the ~4-5k lbs. that Catalina recommends for these sheets?

Is the real issue here that I should want larger-sized sheets just because they are easier to handle, and not because I actually need the strength?
A spin sheet can easily be carrying many hundreds of pounds on a 36' boat. But, I think your line is spec'd for handling, not so much for strength.
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Old 09-05-2013, 13:01   #13
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Re: High-end vs. low-end line?

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Originally Posted by FlyMeAway View Post
Yeah, that was an idea behind the small diameter line too -- keep it as lightweight as possible...
You can also carry a set of smaller lightweight sheets for use in light air. In those conditions the handling isn't as much of a problem, although the winch self-tailing is still an issue.
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Old 09-05-2013, 13:21   #14
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Re: High-end vs. low-end line?

Think about mainsheets: until you get to big boats with mainsheet winches, these are working at a tiny fraction of their rated load

This is because the maximum tension is effectively limited to what you can pull by hand.

It's entirely about handling, in this case.
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Old 09-05-2013, 14:08   #15
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Re: High-end vs. low-end line?

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Originally Posted by Andrew Troup View Post
Think about mainsheets: until you get to big boats with mainsheet winches, these are working at a tiny fraction of their rated load

This is because the maximum tension is effectively limited to what you can pull by hand.

It's entirely about handling, in this case.
Say what, Andrew? Seems to me that first, you have some mechanical advantage from a two or three or four part tackle, so the static load on the standing part is already two to four times what you are pulling. then you cleat the line, and the sail fills... now you add those loads to the line... way more than what you pulled. And then you have a crash gybe, and shock loads are added into the mix. that's when mainsheets die, if ever.

Too, one has to consider strength losses from sun damage and chafing which can markedly reduce the breaking point.

But, in the long run, most lines on a yacht are sized for stretch and handling, not strength. If ir won't stretch too much, it likely won't break!

Cheers,

Jim
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