The (furling) revolution continues

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Why reduced line loads, improved flexibility and the reduced coiling diameter of the latest VO65 headsail furling cables should make for happier round-the-world sailors when the next Volvo starts in October

TorqueLite 2.0
You’re on the foredeck of a Volvo 65, at night, bouncing up and down and heeled over with constant spray turning your headlamp beam into a light show, with the occasional half ton of green water trying to tear you off the boat while you wrestle with trying to furl the code zero. The watch captain says you’ll gain a full knot in boatspeed and hold course better by getting this sail furled and off the deck… quickly. The pressure is on.

In these trying circumstances aren’t you glad the sail luff is secured to a TorqueLite 2.0 cable? Even with the countless hours of performing this manoeuvre over many months, you know the process will be smooth and reliable due in part to the improvements Future Fibres have made in their latest cable product:

TorqueLite 2.0 has twice the torsional stiffness of its predecessor, halving the number of turns required to get your furl started. This means that less physical effort is expended, especially in demanding conditions, in getting the sail away quickly and safely, allowing the trimming team to re-mode more quickly.

Getting the furled sail on and off the deck during deployment or stowing is now much easier since TorqueLite 2.0 has been developed with a proprietary construction that has halved the minimum coiling diameter of the cable. Even with the sail attached this is a vast improvement in terms of time and effort spent wrestling with previousgeneration materials with their relative lack of flexibility.

Main picture: Any sailors to have found themselves in close proximity to the big furled headsails commonly found on today’s fastest race boats – and on some of the largest superyachts – will not need reminding how hard it can be to keep ‘the big snake’ under control, whether attaching it up on the bow ready to deploy or bringing the monster safely down below deck… and without it casually flicking somebody over the side. Future Fibre’s softer new torsion cable (below) will go a long way to making a tough task a little bit more manageable

Besides having greater flexibility, TorqueLite 2.0 cables are made using a new lamination method and lighter-torque material that allows for a 20% weight reduction, further improving sail handling.

The new construction method and materials combine to make the TorqueLite 2.0 cable more stable and less prone to performance decay over its lifespan.

There are numerous boats competing in offshore races around the world that can benefit from the new features found in TorqueLite 2.0, but none are more demanding than the VO65s in the Volvo Ocean Race, starting its 13th edition in October. Attracting the best offshore sailors in the world to compete on one-designs means all of the equipment must operate perfectly as boats and crews are tested to the limits of endurance; the concept of an equipmentsupplied one-design oceanic contest makes mechanical failure of any sort simply unacceptable.

With the performance potential demonstrated by TorqueLite 2.0, it’s not surprising that the Volvo Race organisers soon recognised its value for its eight-boat fleet.

In 2017-2018 each race entry will carry Future Fibres’ TorqueLite 2.0 furling cables in their sevenheadsail inventory, ranging from a 29.7m2 storm jib up to a 420m2 A3 gennaker plus the VO65’s giant masthead code zero.

‘The Volvo Ocean Race team were really impressed with the TorqueLite 2.0 furling cables,’ said Nick Bice, director of boats and maintenance. ‘Having seen them in action, we were excited to order 56 cables for the teams competing in the next edition of the race; they surpass anything we’ve seen before.

‘Our sailors push their gear extremely hard in the toughest conditions, so they need the best equipment. We believe the TorqueLite 2.0 cables will meet the high expectations they place on us to give them the right tools for the job.’

This order marks a continuation of Future Fibres’ involvement in the Volvo race and dovetails neatly into parent company Southern Spars’ role as VO65 mast supplier. Due to the compatibility in design and engineering standards, matching a Future Fibres cable to a Southern Spar mast is a straightforward plug and play operation.

‘We are delighted to be involved in another Volvo,’ said Future Fibres CEO Sam Watson. ‘This order is testimony to the design expertise and innovation that have gone into TorqueLite 2.0. It’s now tough enough to stand up to the rigours of an around-the-world race and also be perfect for superyachts and larger boats everywhere.’

Future Fibres also continue to offer their highly popular TorqueLite 1.0. The new high-perfor mance Torque Lite 2.0 simply now extends the company’s furling cable range for ultimate offshore applications.

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