Latest News: Forums Technical Main halyard – wire or rope

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  • #4338

    I race my boat and have previously always had a wire main halyard that hooks onto a sharks tooth rack. This has worked well and gives little or no stretch in the luff when using the kicker or cunningham.

    Last Sunday I went for a very nice cruise on my own to Dell Quay from Hayling Island SC, the cruise was spoilt by the wire halyard breaking near the ferrule at the foot of the mast and the mainsail descended into the boat. There was nothing that I could do about this whilst on the water, so I sailed about three miles home under genoa alone. No problems, but very slow, giving me plenty of time to think about how I might repair the break. I have concluded that it might be time to convert to a Dyneema halyard. If I do this I would probably use 4mm line, but what cleat (or cleats) should I use? I am considering using a side entry clamcleat or possibly two of these in series to minimise stretch and creep of the sheathing.

    What do others use for racing, wire or rope? If rope, what system do you use? I am sorry if this question has been asked/answered before.



    Hi John,
    I had always used wire halyards on previous dinghies that I sailed, but newer boats tend to be rigged with 4mm non stretch stuff, with a side entry clamcleat, and a little plastic ball for rethreading and connecting the halyard to the head of the sail. It all works really well and when the halyard becomes slightly worn where it is cleated, it is easy to re-tie a stopper knot and cleat in a differnet part of the halyard. I am a convert to non wire halyards!

    Really simple. Another advantage is that it is much easier to ease or tighten luff tension, if required.



    I converted from a wire halyard with toothed rack to a more user-friendly system, using 4mm dyneema and a small plastic horn cleat fitted on the starbaord side of the mast, just below the gooseneck. This gives the maximum length of halyard from the sheave to the cleat, allowing me to sweat up the tension- important if setting a reef underway and not removing the boom from the gooseneck.
    I suppose a clamcleat could work but I instinctively trust a horn cleat a bit more and I don’t think it damages the rope at all.

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