Features August 2007 Issue

Practical Sailor’s Guide to Choosing Cost-Efficient Halyard Materials

Practical Sailor testers evaluate the many cordage choices available for both furling sail halyards and conventional sail halyards, with a look at the different rope fibers out there and a specific focus on cost vs. line stretch.

Sail performance is directly affected by the type and condition of your halyards. Upgrading your halyards to a low-stretch fiber helps ensure you’re getting the sails’ full power, and it can add life your sails. After testing a sampling of lines from New England Ropes, Novatech Braids, Samson Rope, and Yale Cordage, Practical Sailor found that line stretch decreases significantly as cost increases. And while the very-low- to no-stretch high-tech lines often come with through-the-roof prices, there are low-stretch halyard options available for the budget-minded sailor. This article offers a line cost vs. line stretch analysis and an overview of the fibers available. UV resistance and other factors like abrasion resistance and ease of splicing will be the subject of future tests on these halyard materials.

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