December 14, 2021 5 min read

Our Sailing Ropes Explained

We get it, if you are looking at the sailing ropes section of our website there are a lot of options with names that are probably very alien to you - you just want a bit of string that will do the job for your sailing boat.

In this article we are going to attempt to explain the ropes we offer, what they can be used for and what might be the best choice for you and your boat. Our team are also here to support you and can make recommendations via phone or email, get in touch now.

Sailing Rope Materials

There are four main materials that are included in our ropes:

  • Polyester - A strong material for rope that is suitable for most applications but does stretch under pressure
  • Dyneema - Dyneema is an upgrade from polyester and provides much higher breaking strains and less stretch
  • Nylon - Used for mooring and anchoring lines because it has characteristics which allow the rope to stretch more than a polyester
  • Technora - Used in some of our control lines to protect from wear and heat providing excellent abrasion resistance
  • Polypropylene - This is found within our floating ropes, it is lightweight and allows the rope to float

Rope Uses

The first step in identifying a rope for you is to think about the use. Although some of our ropes are general purpose the majority are designed for a certain application and will work best that way.

Also think about your boat, a Mirror dinghy will have far less pressure on the rope than a high performance catamaran as an example.

All of the data for each rope we sell is displayed on the product page, have a look at the minimum breaking strain and level of stretch the rope has.

Halyard

When picking a halyard you need to think about how much pressure is going to be on the halyard and the stretch you need to allow for. You should also think about the diameter, the thicker the rope is the more friction you will get in the system, however your hands are also important, you need a rope which is easy to grip and comfortable on the hands.

A smaller dinghy will be fine with a polyester halyard, as the pressure increases you should be looking at a pre stretched polyester and then moving up to a rope with a dyneema core.

As an example a polyester rope would allow 4.8% stretch at 20% of the ropes breakload, a pre stretched polyester reduces to 3.5%, a dyneema core rope moves down to 1% stretch.

The table below shows an example of some 5mm diameter choices and the data for those ropes.

Rope Material Min Break Strain Stretch at 20% of Break Strain
5mm Evolution Performance Polyester Jacket with Polyester Core 500kgs 4.8%
5mm 8 Plait Pre Stretched Polyester Pre Stretched Polyester 545kgs 3.5%
5mm Evolution Race Polyester Jacket with Dyneema SK78 Core 1,275kgs 1%

For dinghies the most popular halyard diameters are 4mm and 5mm. Our recommendation for most dinghies is either a pre stretched polyester or an Evolution Race rope.

If you are looking for a cruiser or yacht halyard you will need to move up to a larger diameter rope. Keelboats can start ay a 6mm diameter where most yachts wouldn't want to go any smaller than 8mm.

The table below shows rope data for some 10mm yacht halyard options.

Rope Material Min Break Strain Stretch at 20% of Break Strain
10mm Braid on Braid Polyester Jacket with Polyester Core 2,400kgs 3.7%
10mm Dyneema Cruise Polyester Cover and Dyneema Core 3,400kgs 2.8%
10mm Racing Dyneema Polyester Cover and Dyneema Core 5,250kgs 1%

You'll notice the huge additional break strain benefit the racing dyneema would offer you over the other two. This would allow you to drop down a diameter, for example an 8mm racing dyneema has a minimum breaking strain of 3,570kgs. This gives you a higher kgs rating than a 10mm dyneema cruise also with less stretch, less weight and less friction through your systems.

View our Halyard Ropes

Control Line

For a control line you again need to think about diameter, comfort on the hands, load on the rope but in this instance you should also think about how much the rope is adjusted. A frequently adjusted control line is going to wear quickly so you want to think about materials that are tough and will last the test of time running through your systems and cleats.

For dinghies our two go to products are Evolution Performance and Evolution Race. Both have hard wearing covers and last the test of time. These ropes are available in 3mm, 4mm, 5mm and 6mm diameters and in a range of colours.

We also offer Evolution Breeze which is a popular continuous control line rope that can be spliced into one endless loop running around your boat so you never have to worry about where the end of the rope it. This rope also has technora in the cover and is available in 4mm and 5mm diameter.

Rope Material Min Break Strain Stretch at 20% of Break Strain
4mm Evolution Performance Polyester Jacket with Polyester Core 365kgs 4.8%
4mm Evolution Breeze Polyester and Technora Cover with Polypropylene Core 580kgs 3%
4mm Evolution Race Polyester Jacket with Dyneema SK78 Core 820kgs 1%

As a yacht owner you would want to consider Braid on Braid (sometimes called Double Braid), Dyneema Cruise or Racing Dyneema for your control lines.

View our Control Line Ropes

Sheet

The sheet is arguably the most adjusted rope on any boat. It needs to be lightweight, flexible and good on your hands.

For dinghy sailors we offer three main products:

  • Evolution Sheet
  • Evolution Dinghy Lite
  • Maffioli Swiftcord

Here is the data on the ropes using 7mm diameter as an example.

Rope Material Min Break Strain Stretch at 20% of Break Strain
7mm Evolution Sheet Polyester Cover with Lightweight Polypropylene Core 840kgs 5%
7mm Evolution Dinghy Lite 16 Plait Dyneema and Special Non Slip Fibre Cover with 12 Strand Coated Dyneema SK78 Core 1,500kgs 2.7%
7mm Maffioli Swiftcord Single Braided Dyneema SK78 Mixed with a Special Non Slip Fibre 1,930kgs 1.5%

Evolution Sheet is by far our most popular sheet and it has great performance for the price. Evolution Dinghy Lite has a high grip cover and can also be easily tapered. Maffioli Swiftcord is a single braid, or hollow braid rope, this means it has no inside core to the rope. This makes it lightweight, flexible and gives you options to taper this with dyneema, or to add split tails and much more.

View our Sheet Ropes

Purchase System

Most purchase systems use a mixture of 12 strand dyneema and a rope with a cover. The covered area usually goes through the cleats where the 12 strand rope goes through the pulleys and can traditionally be smaller.

We offer two types of 12 strand dyneema rope at Sailing Chandlery:

  • Rig 12
  • Compact Braid

There are four things that are different with these ropes:

  • Compact Braid is more rounded due to a tighter weave
  • Compact Braid has a protective coating
  • Rig 12 has a slightly higher minimum breaking strain
  • Rig 12 is easier to splice due to the looser weave

For the covered area of the purchase system you can refer to the control lines area of this article.

High Performance Rope Options

There are many ropes available from our suppliers that provide additional performance at the higher end of the scale. Although we have not referred to those products within this article we can source them for you quickly with delivery direct to your door.

Rope Questions?

Our friendly team are available to answer any of your rope related questions, simply give us a call or drop us an email.


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