One of the country’s leading yacht insurers - Navigators and General - has warned owners of racing yachts to check their synthetic backstays after noting a significant increase in the number of rigs lost by backstay failure
One of the country’s leading yacht insurers – Navigators and General – has warned owners of one design racing yachts to check their synthetic backstays after noting a significant increase in the number of rigs lost by backstay failure.
The high modulus polyethylene cord involved in many of the failures is produced by several manufacturers and used in response to racing skippers’ demands for low windage, low weight, high strength standing rigging.
The problem lies in the changing nature of the modern racing rig. Many one design classes now race with fully battened high roach mainsails and the abrasion between the batten ends and the backstay during tacks and gybes gradually weakens the cord. This, in tandem with UV damage to the polyester sheath and subsequently the inner core of the backstay, is thought to be responsible for the spate of dismastings.
Navigators and General, working with Marlow Ropes, recommends the following checks:Regular inspection of the backstay is essential, both for signs of wear at points of abrasion and for significant stretchThere is no definitive lifespan for a backstay of this type, but as an absolute minimum owners should give consideration to ‘end for ending’ their backstays during the season and replacing them each yearBatten ends which overlap backstays should be regularly inspected and any rough edges smoothed off or patchedWherever possible hard eyes and splicing should be used as opposed to knots, which only act as a weak point. Splicing Spectra or Dyneema takes a great deal of skill and it is recommended that this is carried out by a professional riggerMarlow Ropes has brought out two new products which contain a UV coating that is designed to reduce UV degradation and abrasion. Known as Excel D12 and Vectran these new products are worth considering when looking at an alternative to the traditional wire backstay