Latest News: Forums Technical Kicker – cascade v multi-purchase

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    As part of my ongoing process of upgrading my MK1 GRP for racing I’m now turning my attention to upgrading the kicking strap with a decent system twinned and led aft to the helm.

    Now in the old days when I used to sail the standard system was a pair of three-gang ball blocks to give 7:1, with the tail split and led aft to give a net 14:1.

    I was all set to order up a couple of suitable blocks and get cracking, except that I notice everyone seems to go a bundle on these wire cascade systems these days. Can anyone offer any advice on how they compare in terms of…

    1. Friction. Clearly there are less pulleys going round, but then again wire isn’t as easily bent as string…
    2. Cost
    3. how much they get in the crew’s way
    4. System travel.

    The last one is a tricky one, as I am also intending to put reef points in my “old” sail then I can take the kids out in strong winds for a bit of fun. My idea was to get the leach cringle put in slightly higher to give a bit more boom clearance when reefed, so I need a kicker system with enough travel to accommodate this.

    Finally, if I do go for a multi-block system will 20mm blocks do or should I use 30mm ones?

    Sorry for the number of questions, but as always the more you scheme the more problems you find to be solved!

    Tony Green

    I have a cascade on 9060 with slab reefing, the boom is higher on 2nd and 3rd reef. A spare shackle is left on the boom loop and the kicker hooks into this rather than the loop to allow for the higher boom when reefed. THis is easy to use when reefing afloat. This has worked well. Not my idea – was on the boat when I bought it.


    Having thought about it some more I’m going to go with the “traditional” triple block system, then if I do get the measurements slightly wrong I just need to use a bit more / less rope rather than find my wire strops need replacing.

    Next question is which sized blocks to use? Off the top of my head I’d have said 25mm but when I look around I find that the nearest thing Holt Allen do is either 20mm (which look too small) or 30mm (which look too big and chunky!). Here are links to the relevant bits:


    Can anyone help with this dilemma? I’m currently leaning towards using the smaller ones with 4mm line, but will they be strong enough? It’s easy to estimate how much load I can apply to the system, but I am at a loss to estimate how much strain a strong gust might place upon it once it is tensioned and cleated…?



    I’ve a triple system twinned with 20mm Ronstan Ballraces and 3mm Dyneema. Hasn’t broken ..yet…



    I’m going for the 20mm blocks too. I was leaning that way to start with, especially after David’s helpful comments.

    Meanwhile, I also e-mailed Holt-Allen to ask what they’d advise, not really expecting a response. But this morning I got an extremely helpful answer from them, covering every point I’d raised with them and recommending the smaller blocks as being plenty strong enough and cheaper.

    It’s really good to see companies giving honest advice in this way: they’ve certainly won my business!

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