Tech Review: 10 Cool Rigger Tricks
Tech Review: 10 Cool Rigger Tricks
From glow-in-the-dark sheets to synthetic lifelines, cordage upgrades should be on your to-do list before you splash your boat for the next racing season.
Professional riggers are consummate tinkerers: Put a length of rope in their hands, and they’ll immediately start thinking of ways to splice it, strip it, taper it, and ultimately avoid using any sort of knot, which we all know can compromise a rope’s breaking strength. The rigger’s obsession doesn’t end with an excessively milked splice, however. When it comes to utilizing cordage in all sorts of inventive ways, the good ideas never seem to stop coming. I’ll share some the best new ideas from the industry, as well as a few easy upgrades to consider before your next racing season.
1. Replace your wire lifelines.
Wire lifelines are history (unless your one-design class rules state otherwise). Dyneema is the best option, especially Dyneema SK90, which is up to three times stronger than similar sized 1x19 stainless steel wire. You are also able to eliminate all the associated hardware, including toggles, eyes, and turnbuckles. With Dyneema, you simply luggage-tag the forward eye splice onto your pulpit, run the lifelines through your stanchions, put a friction ring into the aft eye, and lash it to the stern pulpit. It is suggested that you have a Dyneema cover spliced into the portions that pass through the stanchions. Dyneema is UV stable and chemically inert, but the best part about this option is that it is much less expensive than a comparable wire lifeline assembly.
2. See your sheets or halyards in the dark.
You can now have custom lines made with glow-in-the-dark markers wound into the cover. Some manufacturers, such as Marlow, now offer this for full lengths, or certain spans of your specified lines. Use it for all your halyards and sheets, or select a few control lines that you need to quickly identify at night.
3. Blend hoist marks into your halyard covers.
As with the glow-in-the-dark markers, these marks can be woven into the cover at a pre-determined location in the rope. Gone are the days of permanent markers, whippings, or tape. These markers are specific to your line and are not going anywhere.
4. A new way to attach your jib sheets.
T-Ring systems are a great option available to sailmakers and riggers. A fitting, which looks like a clew ring with a “T” facing into the sail, is sewn into the clew of your jib. Your sheets simply have an eye spliced into the end of each. To attach the sheet to the sail, the Dyneema loop goes over the T, through the two sheets’ eyes, and then over the T the other way. Most sailmakers offer a flap with Velcro closure that goes over the fitting to secure the attachment. This setup eliminates hardware banging around on the shrouds, mast, and crew. It also prevents knots from getting hung up during tacks, and because there are no knots to tie, trim marks are consistent.
5. Attach your halyards without using hard shackles.
A soft shackle is simply Dyneema with a sliding eye splice and a knot at the other end. The best application is as a halyard shackle. They can be made to any desired length and working strength, and their weight is negligible. One of the best ways to use them is to have an eye in the end your halyard, and stitch the soft shackle into the eye. The shackles can have a “leash” or opener, and a safety Velcro if preferred. If they’re closed properly, they tighten down on themselves when loaded, and will not open.