Features November 2010 Issue

Testers Examine Running Rigging Options

Braided lines face torture tests to determine the top picks for halyards and sheets.

Today's sailboat owner faces myriad options when shopping for running rigging. When faced with so many choices—from lines made with the old standby materials like polyester to the newer high-tech ropes made from materials like Vectran and Spectra—it's hard to know which one would make the best mainsail halyard, best afterguy, or best genoa sheets. To find out, Practical Sailor tested 26 different varieties of braided rope from four manufacturers: Yale Cordage, Samson Rope, Novatech Braids, and New England Ropes. With so many lines to consider, we grouped the products by material and construction, sorting them into three fairly distinct performance groups (low, mid, and high tech) based upon their fiber content. The ropes were evaluated on their elongation, abrasion resistance, and handling characteristics. Ultimately, when all the stretching, abrading, and coiling was done, testers were able to find some clear choices based on price range and offer some general guidance for those who are shopping for new cordage.

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