As composite rigging continues to infiltrate every area of the marine industry, the push for increased customisation and flexibility also continues to rise. With these attributes at the core of Future Fibres' R&D ethos, the company has developed a system capable of accurately specifying the torsional requirements of its code cables.
Originally developed for the Volvo fleet, code cables, or torsional luff cables, have now been widely adopted for furling free-flying headsails and staysails. Suitable for boats up to 40 metres, they are designed to make handling code zero sails, gennakers and staysails far easier.
Specially engineered to transfer torque from the furling unit at the base, through the end fitting and along the length of the cable, the result can be likened to a thirty metre long propeller shaft, which can be coiled up and stored in a bag when not in use!
Through extensive in-house testing, Future Fibres has identified the specific cable characteristics required for durability, flexibility and torsional stiffness. Using a variety of materials and construction methods, the R&D team has adapted the manufacturing process to enable the precise requirements of the client or team to be met. The new range
"For a long time, Future Fibres code cables have been considered the best available, especially in the race market, where we definitely have the commanding share. However, in comparison to our current cables, and those still being sold by the competition, the new system is years ahead and means we can offer a range of options based on a boat's specific requirements." comments Alex Runciman, Head of Future Fibres' Project Management Team.
Future Fibres continues to work closely with sailmakers and furler manufacturers, which has enabled it to develop the first model capable of accurately calculating torsional requirements, based on sail size, loads and wind speeds. This in turn has enabled standards to be created for specifying cable torque and flexibility. A test regime for durability has also been developed which involves furling, interspersed with simulated 'packing' abuse, to identify fatigue issues and reduce their impact.
Alex continues: "By adjusting the way we construct the cables we can accurately build in the required characteristics to give optimum performance. The choices come down to torque, longevity and weight, and we can adjust the production variables in a number of different ways to achieve the perfect balance. We can't really go into a lot of detail about how we do it – it's a significant lead over of the competition and we want to keep that way!"