Low Friction Rings for Sailing


Our recent PS Advisor article on barber haulers illustrated an arrangement that relied on a low friction ring to control tension on the sheet. Although you can buy pre-rigged control lines that terminate with low friction rings, sailors should be able to do this themselves.

When it comes to attaching rings there are at least a dozen ways that work, each requiring different skill sets. In most cases, installation should take only five minutes once a few simple tricks are learned. For splices, remember that deeper ring grooves will be tolerant it will be of a loose splice.

Dyneema Single Braid (Amsteel).To install a ring at the of a line, simply make a tight eye splice, including the ring. A locked brummel splice is probably the simplest , but a long bury with lock stitching is just as strong. If you dont want to splice, you can use seizing. Youll need only the most basic skills with needle and palm (see Stitching vs. Splicing, PS October 2014). The seizing thread must be non-stretch and the combined lashing about 60 percent as strong as the rated load of the line. For example, if you are using doubled 80-pound test Spectra whipping twine to secure -inch Amsteel (8,600-pound breaking strength), you need at least 30 full turns, plus a series of half hitches to secure it. For larger line sizes, seizing with Amsteel cord makes more sense.

Polyester Double Braid.A knot wont hold the ring and getting a traditional tucked splice tight enough around the ring requires considerable practice and effort. However, a sewn splice is strong, fast, and will fit perfectly every time. With appropriate chafe and UV protection, it will be as strong as the line and last as long as the line (see Stitching Instead of Splicing,Practical SailorOctober 2014). In the case of a short loop, where the tails will overlap, the sewn eye is made by stitching through each of the three lines in a spiral pattern, like a spring, passing through each core. Use 40-pound test whipping twine and consider each pass to add about 20 pounds breaking strength. Use at least 10 passes in each line, and as many as required to reach the required breaking strength.

Webbing.No splicing or sewing skills whatsoever? Narrow webbing can work. For working loads up 1500 pounds, we found thin Dyneema climbing slings (Mamut, 5,000 pounds) to be a handy solution for 10-14 mm rings; just seize or sew tightly. This works best Antal or Nautos rings because of their deep groves. Some rings can be popped right into the pre-sewn eyes of rock climbing quick-draws. Youll have to take your rings with you to the climbing store to match up sizes, though. The limitations to using webbing are locating strong webbing that is narrow and strong twine (see Top Whipping Twines, PS December 2014). Multiple layers, like a lashing, work for higher loads.

Lashing.Lashings can be just the thing to secure a ring to a stanchion or toe rail to make a fairlead. Small Amsteel works fine; however, if the load is modest, as it generally is for a fairlead, then less slippery polyester cord is easier to work with. Finally, if the attaching lanyard and the lines for the eye are both small, the attaching lanyard can be a pre-made loop that passes through the center of the eye and attached to the ring luggage tag style.

Darrell Nicholson, editor of Practical Sailor, grew up boating on Miami’s Biscayne Bay on everything from prams to Morgan ketches. Two years out of Emory University, after a brief stint as a sportswriter, he set out from Miami aboard a 60-year-old wooden William Atkin ketch named Tosca. For 10 years, he and his girlfriend Theresa Gibbons explored the Caribbean, crossed the Pacific, and cruised Southeast Asia aboard Tosca, working along the way as journalists and documenting their adventures for various travel and sailing publications, including Cruising World, Sail, Sailing, Cruising Helmsman, and Sailing World. Upon his return to land life, Darrell became the associate editor, then senior editor at Cruising World magazine, where he worked for five years. Before taking on the editor’s position at Practical Sailor, Darrell was the editor of Offshore magazine, a boating-lifestyle magazine serving the New England area. Darrell has won multiple awards from Boating Writer’s International, including the Monk Farnham award for editorial excellence. He holds a U.S. Coast Guard 100-ton Master license and has worked as a harbor pilot and skippered a variety of commercial charter boats.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here