Increasing numbers of large sailing yachts are turning to carbon and plastic for their standing rigging

…Published in June 07 issue of Yachting World

A recent visit to Royal Huisman and sister firm Rondal, manufacturers of masts, winches and hatches, reveals a major shift towards lightweight carbon and PBO standing rigging in supersail yachts. It is premature to suggest heavyweight rod rigging is on the way out, but the advantages of the new material, particularly in weight, are being recognised.

Rondal have secured some significant orders for masts, an area in which they have been relatively weak until recently. They have just completed a spar package for Meteor, a 52m (171ft) Dijkstra/Munford gaff schooner which will be the first really big superyacht to have masts dressed with carbon rigging, in this instance Southern’s Element C6 material.

Meteor’s first big outing will be at the Superyacht Cup held in Palma this June; see the SuperSail World supplement with this issue. Meteor v Borkumriff II will be a sight worth seeing.

Rondal have also won the order to equip the giant Athos, a 62m (203ft) schooner being built by Holland Jachtbouw. The main boom alone is 23.5m (77ft) and her owner is thinking about PBO standing rigging.

But perhaps the most advanced piece of work Rondal will undertake this year will be the carbon spar for Jim Clark’s new J Class yacht Endeavour II. The aluminium yacht will step a high-modulus carbon spar, which is being worked on by Keith Carrew, currently working with the BMW Oracle America’s Cup team as spar engineer and designer. He was in Holland recently with North Sails’ Scott Zebny, an expert on superyacht sails and Js in particular – he put together the Ranger package.

Blending mast, rigging and sail design is a crucial element of getting a ‘fast’ package, something Carrew has been working on in Valencia. Keen to see Endeavour II achieve on the racecourse, Clark has given Rondal a free hand to come up with a very high-performance package in this increasingly competitive class.