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Old 10-09-2007, 20:52   #1
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Synthetic standing rigging

Any information about using synthetic standing rigging for cruising boats? I do not have any experience with this type of replacement for metal rigging. Is it just for go-fast racing boats or has it been used on cruising boats?

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Old 10-09-2007, 21:04   #2
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In just a pure statics engeering sense it should work fine. Modern fibers are strong enough. The issues wth UV and the other variables such as abrasision don't seem to favor it though. The weight aloft on a cruising boat is not a serious concern compared to the the bulk and weight of all the crap you have to haul around below. Race boats have nothing below deck where a cruiser has everything they own. Saving a few pounds aloft is never a bad idea but compared to what? Good wire rigged properly might be rated for ten years and no fibre would rate that high without increasing windage and mass to being almost equal. UV will destroy any fibre faster than stainless steel wire or rod. Bang for the money spent I just don't see it. It is a topic discussed for life lines. I think I might be in favor of that but even that is not a uiniversal standard.
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Old 10-09-2007, 21:59   #3
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I don't doubt it can be done; there are plenty of examples where it is used: The current generation of 98' supermaxis use carbon fibre rod rigging. From memory, some smaller race boats use PBO rigging. I think that the problem is that it is not a very cost-effecive path to follow: This sort of high tech rigging is very expensive by comparison with more traditional standing rigging. You could end up spending thousands of extra dollars for a relatively modest weight saving. The extra cost can, apparently, be justified on an expensive race boat, who's owner, or, more likely, who's sponsor, has very deep pockets. For most of us "normal people", we will make do with the normal 1x19 stainless wire and live with the extra few kilograms up the mast (and, with the money we saved we could proabbly buy a new sail).
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Old 11-09-2007, 11:18   #4
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It's a matter of opinion...

I've discussed this topic with some top riggers around the continent; the net result is that it will always improve the vessel if the owner is willing to manage the additional maintenance.

If I put a 3 pound masthead light/wiring on my cruising boat, I'm removing nearly 100 pounds of righting moment. If I could save 3 pounds from my rigging, I'd be adding nearly 100 pounds, and that's not at all an unachievable goal even with my small boat. Imagine if you could pull 10-20 pounds off a 60' foot rig! adding up to half a ton of righting moment!

There are a lot of caveats: increasing the righting moment means you're also increasing the potential stress on the rig, mast, sails, hull because the boat will sail more upright in equivalent winds - more sail area to develop thrust, more lateral area below the waterline. The cost of high-mod synthetic rigging can be partially offset by using simple/light machined aluminum dead-eyes, but you still have the cost of all the rig modifications. The upper end fittings appear to be in a state of evolution, and no one method has shown a dominance for weight or performance benefits. Overall cost will be be impressive.

UV and abrasion, and lingering concerns regarding creep, will result in a high-mod rig being replaced more often than stainless rig. The regular maintenance may be lower - because the rig is (usually) simpler - but having to replace the lines every 4-5 years (depending on the specific formulation and installation) mean the long-term maintenance will be higher.

All this said, the future of sailing rigs will almost certainly be high-tech lines, dead-eyes and lanyards. The weight savings and simplicity, added to improved UV and abrasion resistance which are already occurring, make it as much an advancement as wire over natural fibre rope. There's just no point in carrying complex cast and machined metal fittings when a cheaper, lighter, and less-prone-to-failure block of aluminum will do the same job.
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Old 11-09-2007, 12:56   #5
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The most recent practical sailor has a review.
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Old 11-09-2007, 14:32   #6
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Google Dyneex, stretch no longer a problem with new generation product, UV rating improved, life expectancy very good and as life of stainless is approx seven years should easily equal it, strength size for size with wire about double at a fraction the weight, gotta be good,
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Old 11-09-2007, 15:45   #7
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If "exotic" rigging were a practicable solution for the average boat owner, then the average boat would have exotic rigging! As I mentioned above, generally, exotic rigging is pretty mcuh exclusively the domain of the very rich (or the very well sponsored).

The point is, that if you want to save weight up the mast, you can probably get better "bang for your buck" by looking elsewhere. Replacing those wire halyards with rope, or those double braid halyards with Spectra, or those spectra halyards with vectran or those vectran halyards with amsteel blue. Hell, I would consider upgrading to a carbon fiber mast before conisdering exotic standing rigging. Consider also that your sails weigh a truckload more than your standing rigging, and the range of materials available make significant weight saving a realistic possibility (and you should, potentially, be able to save more than you would on replacing standard rigging).

To me, the boats that I have seen with exotic rigging (Wild Oates XI, for example), already have carbon fiber everything (including the toilet seat), are using the lightest weight sheets, halyards, sails etc. They have saved every ounce that they can and, with the exotic standing rigging, are saving just a little more. And on that boat, let me assure you, money is no object at all.
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Old 11-09-2007, 15:58   #8
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I think you mistake my meaning...

Most likely newer boats *will* be originally equipped with dead-eye/lanyard set ups; I'm sure some already are. You don't need to go with the exotics to gain weight savings aloft; as you mentioned, replacing wire standing rigging with spectra would amount to a reasonable improvement without getting all bleading edge.

I can't see it being worth while to do this to an existing rig because of the massive costs of such a change would likely be enough to justify moving to a bigger boat. Even where the entire standing rig is condemned the cost is likely too high to justify.

But on an original build, or where everything from masthead to chainplates must be replaced, the benefits do justify it and the cost will be *less*.
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Old 11-09-2007, 18:39   #9
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I'll have a better answer in February after I've switched over to synthetics. My boat is a 40' Searunner trimaran. Fritz Richardson of Pacific Offshore Riggers is working with me to overhaul my whole rig. Fritz has had significant offshore multihull experience, once owned a sister ship to mine, and will be owning another multi in the near future. We will be converting to reduce weight aloft and improve performance. I am already using Amsteel blue for my steering cables. I love it. It's easy to work with, it's compatible with standard turnbuckles, it's light and strong and holds up to wearing on the sheaves. And since I can buy stuff at commercial rates, it's not ridiculously priced. This coming summer I will be testing everything in the Santa Barbara Channel, sailing to weather all afternoon in high winds and punishing seas, retreating to a quiet cove on Santa Cruz Island in the evening to lick my wounds and clean up the vomit, etc., then off again the next day. I'll keep this up until stuff gets stowed correctly, gear stops breaking, or I run out of strength, money or companionship. Then I'll get back to you with my findings.
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Old 11-09-2007, 19:20   #10
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Ah, ok, my misunderstanding.

For what it is worth, there is some interesting discussion going on about a similar question on the Sailing Anarchy forums. The thread link is here:

Dyneema SK60 Creep - Sailing Anarchy Forums

Caveat: Sailing Anarchy is, well, anarchic. If you are offended by bad language, possible "hazing" and occasional pictures of ladies in states of undress, you might be best advised to stay away.

The thread inculdes a great post by the well respected Brion Toss (Sailing Anarchy, for all it's foibles, does have some regular noteworthy posters including Bob Perry and various other luminaries).

One of the issues with exotic standing rigging is stretch and/or creep with time/load. Stretch or creep is manageable in a halyard, but bloody difficult to manage in standing rigging. Some of the ultra-new materials; I'm thinking Dynex Dux in particular, have such massive breaking strengths that on can have the luxury of dealing with working loads that do not exceed 20% of the breaking strength, but even in these remarkable cases, stretch & creep and still be an issue.

Interesting stuff, to be sure!
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Old 11-09-2007, 20:04   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Weyalan View Post
If "exotic" rigging were a practicable solution for the average boat owner, then the average boat would have exotic rigging! As I mentioned above, generally, exotic rigging is pretty mcuh exclusively the domain of the very rich (or the very well sponsored).

.
I'm sure people used to say this about galvanised steel rigging, aluminium masts, and stainless rigging. They definitely did about carbon masts, yet more and more cruising boats are popping up with carbon masts, as carbon gets cheaper. I'm sure the newer high mod synthetics will get to be better value than they currently are - spectra running rigging is almost commonplace, yet it used to be considered as far too expensive for the normal cruiser.
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Old 11-09-2007, 20:11   #12
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Quote:
I'm thinking Dynex Dux in particular, have such massive breaking strengths that on can have the luxury of dealing with working loads that do not exceed 20% of the breaking strength, but even in these remarkable cases, stretch & creep and still be an issue.
Fiber technology is being put on the very edge with these types of applications. I think they can be solved but some of the complexities are beyond the type of issues formerly delt with in the boating industry. It's not like it has not happened before but it's not a clear solution just yet. The statics and dynamics of it seem clearly possible to resolve. UV is still an issue as none of this stuff is greatly less resistent to UV than it has been in the past. Then again SST isn't any less salt resistent than it ever has been either. This clearly is not any different than materials used for space craft.

Some stuff really is rocket science.
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Old 12-09-2007, 12:09   #13
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Thanks all for the the information. Ther's a lot to assimilate.
I have to stay with what I have for a while and have many other projects higher up the priority list.

Roy M.,
Fritz is a great rigger, He helped me with many projcets when I had my own yard over on the Sweetwater Channel. Please say hi to him for me. If he remembers me at all it will be because of the red Cross 32r "Alacran" I bought from Terrible Ted. I now have a Kantola 38 that I have to bring back from Virginia.
Good luck with your Tri.

Thanks Again
Bob
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Old 12-09-2007, 15:20   #14
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Stretch/creep

I agree that stretch and creep *can* be an issue, but only if you've a racer's mentality and are going for the least safety margin. The deadeye/lanyard technique of rig was designed for rig materials which would substantially stretch and contract on changes in air humidity; in short it's a very advanced technology which developed specifically to meet conditions like stretch and creep.

Presuming one can switch to rope rigging, it doesn't take long to figure out that old-tech is new-tech again, with small lashings or machined deadeyes being used on some very spendy boats. Yet this is really very cheap and light when compared to turnbuckles and toggles, no clevis/cotter pins to lose/bend/lacerate yourself on...

To me it seems almost like the perfect cruising option - a combination of simple and cheap while also being easily maintainable/fixable with whatever you have to hand. Oh, and improves sailing performance. If I could figure out how to make it cheap to change over to, I'd do it on my current boat.
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Old 12-09-2007, 15:51   #15
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I don't doubt that synthetic standard rigging will become more affordable and therefore more common, but I do think that that day is still a good way off. I think it is a bit of an exaggeration to suggest (c.f. 44'cruisingcat, above) that "spectra running rigging is almost commonplace. Certainly it is more common than a decade ago when it was really only the demense of the serious racer, but it is hardly cheap. I am trying to save up enough money (and justify the expense) to buy spectra for my main halyard. Around here, I can buy good quality 1/2" double braid for about 25c per foot. 1/2" Spectra still costs about $3 per foot. I shudder to think about how much it would cost for one of the more expensive exotic synthetics. While I can replace my main halyard for $30 in double braid, but $360 in spectra (and who knows what for "the good stuff"), it is not going to be commonplace on my boat.

Again, while carbon fiber masts are certainly becoming less rare, they are hardly commonplace. I am berthed in a marina of about 200 yachts. As far as I know, 2 of them have carbon fibre masts. Again, I don't dount that they will become more common, but they are still a way off becoming standard gear.

I still believe that if one is operating on a particularly generous budget, you can, currently, get more "bang for your buck" (i.e increased performance or strength safety) in upgrades other than in synthetic standing rigging. That will probably always be the case on my budget. Your mileage may, of course, vary.
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