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101: Everything about Halyards

Running rigging is more than just ropes; it is about how much they help you achieve your sailing objectives. Therefore, we should pay special attention to the lines' quality and ensure they will have the perfect balance between performance and endurance.

A perfect condition halyard will prevent the sail attached from falling (or at least in a big way). To avoid this, you should always look for low-stretch lines that will keep your sails on their top to benefit from the sail area and wind speed, improving your sailing speed that easily.

Indeed, we made an article about how to select the best halyards for your boat some time ago. Technology improvements never end, and we continue learning to always keep up with the latest information and give the best advice we possibly can. In MAURIPRO Sailing, we are constantly looking for the best items, materials, and brands for each sailor's needs to help you get the highest return over your sailing stuff. Therefore, we had re-categorized our halyards into four sailing style categories:

  1. Cruiser: made out of Polyester Double-Braid to lower the cost of the line in the core and get the highest UV and Salt protection to the weekend sailor. These lines are good to keep the sails hoisted and even furled for hours. However, they sacrifice performance as they stretch more than any other line.
  2. Performance Cruiser: to overpass the lack of performance, this line type is made out of Dyneema SK38 core to increase the strength and load capacity of the line, and with a cover made of polyester to keep the endurance on the complete line. This category is made for cruisers looking to improve their sailing by getting a step closer to the competitive sailor's rigging.
  3. Club Racer: one step forward, we have lines designed to win competitions. These are made out of Stirotex core, with fibers that are hardly stretched, lightweight, very strong (and less elongation than Dyneema SK38), and with high-load polyester in the cover to overcome the stretching line but to keep the high protection to its core.
  4. GP Racer: the top category is made for high competitive racers. Lines from this tier are made of coated Dyneema SK78 fibers in the core (high-end Dyneema) thicker and with a bit less elongation than Stirotex. At the same time, the covers are 24-braid High Tenacity (HT) Polyester lines.

What makes a line more expensive than others?

The factors you need to consider to choose rightly between different brands or lines are more than just a matter of price. However, all these factors will indeed modify the line price, finally setting this proportion between price and quality.

  • Tensile strength: commonly known as load capacity, is associated with the sail area the halyard is hoisting and the wind force. The higher the tensile, the bigger the sail it can hold and the heavier wind conditions you could sail.
  • Limited stretch: the elongation of a line is critical since, as we mentioned initially, it will increase or decrease your sailing performance. If the rope stretches, the sail will go down, and the sail area on the top of the mast (where the wind goes faster) will decrease, lowering the boat speed.
  • Abrasion resistance: good to consider for lines that pass through clutches, where they are easily damaged.
  • Diameter: sailors usually get used to a specific diameter for each line. However, technological improvements made them smaller, lighter, and more robust. For instance, you should constantly check if the diameter of your lines is still correct for the application needed.
  • Weight: a significant factor racing sailors always try to decrease to sail faster and cross the finish line first. The less a foot of rope weights, the more your boat will float, as every pound will be multiplied by the total length of each line, and at the end, it could be decisive in a final upwind crossing.
  • UV Protection: High rope endurance is a good way of getting the most from the price you pay for them. A way to measure it is by how long they will last. Since the critical factors a rope is rapidly damaged are the sun and the salt, lines with good UV protection will ensure your cords will last longer against the sun's intense radiation, even if they are exposed to endless hours of day sailing.

Differences between materials

Across this article, we mentioned some materials used in lines and ropes. However, there are many others not mentioned before that you can find in the market and you should consider when buying new halyards for your boat.

  • Dyneema SK38:a good choice for cruisers looking for quality lines at the core. It has a lower tenacity than other Dyneema fibers but still has high strength properties that can be utilized to reduce the diameter of the line. It is three times lighter and only 2/3 the diameter of the same strength line made of polyester.
  • Dyneema SK78:is a 12-strand braided rope produced with HMPE/Dyneema, one of the most famous core materials for club racing and racing applications. It is 25% stronger than Dyneema SK38; therefore, it allows a potential reduction in diameter or an increase in the load capacity for the same diameter. Dyneema SK78 tends to be used in applications where resistance to creep is crucial. This material makes it possible to achieve an increased life expectancy of lines within harsh operating conditions.
  • Stirotex: is a core fiber that offers excellent strength and low elongation properties at a competitive price. Originally aimed as an affordable performance option for the cruising market, it had undergone a recent revamp to increase the working load by slightly increasing the core diameter. It makes the Stirotex products a real contender for racing boats. The success of the Stirotex range is evident in recent high-profile projects and the significant uptake in the ORC cruiser/racer circuit. They are also starting to appear in the offshore classes, including Figaro and Mini Transat.
  • Technora: one of the first high-performance materials used in the rope industry was aramids such as Technora. It is a high-strength fiber with good resistance to creep and high temperatures. However, its UV and abrasion resistance are poor, which means that an aramid rope is best jacketed in another material such as polyester. Aramids have poor resistance to knots and bending, requiring large sheaves on pulleys.
  • Kevlar: Another aramid fiber that had great success in the racing sailing world during the '80s. A low-stretch material with excellent heat resistance and strength. It has a low UV resistance and does not bend around sharp edges well. A high-tech material that resists abrasion from winches and blocks with no problem.
  • Spectra: it is a very similar fiber to Dyneema in its molecular structure. Both fibers are incredibly strong (40% more than aramids), lightweight, highly resistant to fatigue, and do not suffer from the same degree of strength loss when used around small D:d ratios. While Spectra has the highest fatigue resistance, Dyneema is more resistant to wear in most heavy use areas. This material floats on water and resists corrosion. It is known for its resistance to chemicals and abrasion.
  • Polyester: is a very "all-round" fiber and can be used in a high range of applications. This synthetic material has high tenacity, excellent resistance to UV and abrasion, and is unaffected by water. Because it has an excellent grip, it works perfectly on winches. Polyester double braid ropes became the standard against which all cords were compared. Polyester (PET) is still an excellent fiber for many marine applications, widely used for covers, and moderately priced.

Loads and Diameters

In the following chart, you will find the right line for you based on the diameter and tensile strength needed for any application:

Materials Price Core Cover
Dyneema SK38 $$ Yes
Dyneema SK78 $$$ Yes
Stirotex $$ Yes
Technora $$ Yes Yes
Kevlar $$ Yes Yes
Vectran $$$ Yes
Spectra $$ Yes
Polyester $$$ Yes Yes

Don't hesitate to contact us if you have any related questions. We'll be glad to help!


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