Sailboat Hardware is continued from previous page.
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Selecting a Roller Furling System
Measurements you need?
Structural headstay furler,
flying sail furler
or top-down furler?
Selecting a Roller Furling System
Roller furling systems have made managing
headsails easier for about 30 years. If your boat
has never had a furling system, or if the furler
that's installed needs replacement, there are
more choices available than ever, and the prod-
ucts are all pretty efficient. Whatever type of sail-
boat you own, there's a roller furling system that
will simplify your sailing.
Flying sail furlers
If you are like a lot
of sailors, you may
be familiar with the
concept of "flying
sail furlers," and
you probably as-
sociate them with
racing boats. Think
again. Flying sail
also offer simplicity,
mance for cruisers.
cruising sailors must prepare their boats to with-
stand storm conditions, most of the cruising we do
consists of light winds, often proceeding under en-
gine power. Here is where flying sails and their new
technology can help you sail more, motor less, and
pay for themselves in reduced fuel costs.
Types of sails:
Flying sail furlers are designed to
be used with light and heavy flying, asymmetrical
sails, at heading angles between a close reach and
a broad reach. Examples are light sails like a gen-
naker, code zero, screacher, light or multi-purpose
genoas, fisherman, or heavy sails: solent, reacher,
staysail, storm jib.
Can I sail with my sail partially furled?
flying sail furlers are made to sail with the sail fully
unfurled. You cannot reef, or partially furl, your code
zero or other flying sail. It is an "off or on" sort of
technology, with a continuous-loop type of furling line.
Where can I buy an anti-twist "Torque" rope?
have Marlow ProDrive Furler Cable, in two diam-
eters, so that you can make it yourself or work with
the sailmaker of your choice. You can also contact
our experts at West Marine Rigging, and we can
fabricate this for you.
Can I use my current sail?
Yes, however a sail-
maker must integrate the anti-twist cable into the luff
of the sail, except in the case of top-down furlers, as
The latest development in flying sail furlers, top-
down furling systems fit downwind sails with a soft
luff and full midsection. The sail starts furling from
the head and continues down to the bottom of the
torsion cable (hence the term "top-down furler".
Only the head of the sail is attached to the torsion
rope, the rest of the sail is independent from the
furler, and the tack is connected to a floating ring
on the lower drum, allowing it to remain stationary
while the drum turns. The sail deploys easily and
rapidly, without the crew needing to leave the cock-
pit. Usually, a top-down furler does not require any
modification to your existing sail.
A bowsprit is often a good idea to increase the
gap between the furler and the headstay, but the
furler can also be attached directly to the bow,
depending on your boat. Ronstan offers top-down
versions of their Series 80, Series 120 and Series
160 Gen 2 Flying Sail Furlers. Karver also is now
making this style, in their KSF2 and KSF5 top-down
furlers on the opposite page.
What are the measurements you need
To shop for a furler you should know your headstay
diameter, whether wire or rod, overall length (pin-to-
pin measurement), and clevis pin diameter. If you
are replacing or adding a furler, plan to replace
your headstay. It holds your mast up, and you're
getting ready to put a system over it that makes it
virtually impossible to inspect for wear or failure.
A few hundred dollars for new wire will seem like
pennies if you're stuck with a catastrophic failure
If you're good at do-it-yourself rigging projects,
installing a furler is a weekend task that the average
boat owner can handle. Most Harken and Schae-
fer furlers are designed for owner-installation. See
our online West Advisor and Do-It-Yourself guide
for all the details on how to choose and install your
unit. Work with your local rigger if you are in doubt
concerning your rigging skills.
Would you like a furler with a drum you
can remove for racing?
Racers want to save weight in the bow, position the
tack of the sail closer to the deck, and make headsail
changes as the wind increases or decreases. Har-
ken's MKIV furlers allow these racing performance
changes. They have split furling drums that are re-
movable, and an aerodynamic Air Foil
with twin grooves for quick sail changes. Indepen-
dent head and tack swivels help improve sail shape.
Harken's ESP furlers have fixed drums, round, single-
groove foils and fixed halyard and tack swivels. Fac-
nor's LX and LS Series, as well as Profurl's Racing
and Cruising furlers, offer similar choices.
What accessories do you need?
Make sure to order the necessary terminals, furling
line and toggles or Leg Kits to complete your instal-
lation. You often need to cut the headstay length
slightly, and add a Sta-Lok or Norseman terminal.
If your existing jib is hanked
onto the headstay, you"ll need to replace the hanks
with #5 or #6 luff tape. You may also install a foam
luff pad for reefing deep draft sails. It allows the
center of the sail to maintain an aerodynamic shape
when partially reefed, without the draft moving to
the back of the sail. Add a Sunbrella sun shade to
the leech and foot if the sail will be exposed to the
sun for an extended time period. Better yet, replace
your tired, blown-out genoa, and buy a new sail with
these modifications designed into it.
Leading the line aft:
You'll want lead blocks to
control the system from your cockpit, with a ratchet
block to help manage the load on bigger systems.
Halyard restrainer/halyard deflector:
also need a halyard restrainer, which keeps the
halyard from wrapping around the forestay.
Type of sailboat?
What type of sailboat do you have?
Dinghy, beach cat or small sportboat:
Boat Furlers mount on your boat's headstay on a
sportboat or the jib's luff wire on a dinghy or beach
catamaran. Most sportboats, such as our Ultimate
20, use a separate halyard and a jib that zips over
In general, we recommend furlers
with a flexible extrusion, like Schaefer's SnapFurl
system, for a trailerable cruising style boat. This is
not a hard and fast rule, as many owners of trailera-
ble boats have rigid aluminum furlers like Harken's
MKIV Unit 0, designed for 22' to 30' boats. How-
ever, if you frequently raise and lower your mast, as
many trailer-sailers often do, a flexible furler will be
easier to store and less prone to damage.
Bigger boat that's stored in a slip:
boats have a wider range of choices because they
operate with a bigger variety of headsails. The rest
of this Advisor will help owners of bigger sailboats
with this choice.
Are you looking for a structural
headstay furler, flying sail furler
or top-down furler?
Headstay-mounted structural foil furlers
The oldest and most common type, so-called
structural furlers control your jib or genoa, and
are installed over your boat's headstay. Usually,
a single furling line rolls the sail onto the headfoil
extrusion mounted over the headstay wire. You can
either furl your sail completely, or partially reef it to
Facnor RC Continuous Line
Structural Furler. Most other
structural furlers use a single
non-continuous furling line.
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