New Harken Blocks


Harken’s quest for the lightest, easiest-running yacht blocks never ends. Harken makes a huge line of blocks, from tiny “Micro Blocks” with 22 mm (7/8″) sheaves for up to 1/4″ line to 150 mm (6″) blocks with safe working loads of 15,000 lbs. The Micro Blocks alone come in 16 configurations—from singles to triples with a becket and a cam cleat.

New Harken Blocks

The Pewaukee company, greatly favored by weight-conscious racing sailors but also admired by cruisers, has some more new ones. Among them are a new tri-roller car for handling several sheets; a new 40-mm cheek block that Harken says is 30% lighter and 60% stronger; new dinghy jib leads; a special outhaul car for mainsails that furl in the mast or behind it, and an entirely new line of lower-priced blocks called ESP (an acronym for elegant simple product) that do NOT have ball bearings.

The ones that took our eye were some new fixed furling lead blocks that can be mounted upright or sideways inside a toe rail. These compact low-profile blocks, made with a one-piece stainless steel frame and carbon-fiber sheaves, come in two sizes. The small one, with ball bearings, has a SWL (safe working load) of 300 lbs. and lists for $7.95. A large one, with roller bearings, has a SWL of 500 lbs. and lists for $25.95.

By the way, in the September, 1999 issue some Harken blocks introduced last summer were discussed. We called them all Black Magic Carbo AirBlocks™.


Harken was nice. They didn’t squawk.

The error was discovered when consulting the discount catalogs on some more new Harken blocks.

New Harken Blocks

One Harken line is called Carbo AirBlocks, which come with 40-mm sheaves (SWL for a single swivel: 485 lbs.) or 57-mm sheaves (single swivel, SWL: 792 lbs.). These are for dinghies and small cruising boats. The Carbo AirBlocks, made of carbon fiber, are moderately priced. The two above are $22 and $24, respectively.

Harken’s big boys are called Black Magic Airblocks. There are two sizes—57 mm and 75 mm. Machined from high-grade aluminum that is hard anodized (with added UV protection and Teflon impregnation), these blocks have Torlon roller bearings, carbon balls and deeply grooved sheaves. They are available as singles (with or without beckets), doubles, footblocks, strapheads or what Harken calls a “spriddle” (for use as a spreacher). A bit dear, they run from $78 to $372.

If it all gets too confusing, get a new catalog from Harken. (Harken Yacht Equipment, 1251 E. Wisconsin, Pewaukee, WI 53072-3797; 414/691-3320; fax: 262/691-3008;

Practical Sailor has been independently testing and reporting on sailboats and sailing gear for more than 45 years. Supported entirely by subscribers, Practical Sailor accepts no advertising. Its independent tests are carried out by experienced sailors and marine industry professionals dedicated to providing objective evaluation and reporting about boats, gear, and the skills required to cross oceans. Practical Sailor is edited by Darrell Nicholson, a long-time liveaboard sailor and trans-Pacific cruiser who has been director of Belvoir Media Group's marine division since 2005. He holds a U.S. Coast Guard 100-ton Master license, has logged tens of thousands of miles in three oceans, and has skippered everything from pilot boats to day charter cats. His weekly blog Inside Practical Sailor offers an inside look at current research and gear tests at Practical Sailor, while his award-winning column,"Rhumb Lines," tracks boating trends and reflects upon the sailing life. He sails a Sparkman & Stephens-designed Yankee 30 out of St. Petersburg, Florida.


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