Rigging systems and rules go hand in hand and with the IRC about to relax the penalty for composite rigging in 2011, Future Fibres has identified the need for a performance based, reasonably priced, hassle free system for your standard IRC Club racer. From this brief, the Encapsulated Multi Shroud (EMS) was born.
In essence, EMS is not a new product but it's the finer detail that differentiates it from its competitors. The cables are designed and built to Future Fibres' exacting standards, utilising wound technology (no chunky friction fittings!) and the cap shroud is braided together with the deck length D2 over the V1 span and terminated on the same fitting. This, in turn, can be easily integrated into existing turnbuckles which improves aesthetics and windage as well as the load sharing between the two cables.
EMS is designed with existing metalwork and apertures in mind, incorporating existing hardware as much as possible, hence further reducing cost.
Replacing the tip cups with a light-weight fitting to guide the cables though the existing spreader aperture, there is no need to do any expensive, time consuming spreader modifications.
Mike Sanderson, winner of the 2005/6 Volvo Ocean Race comments:
"The new EMS system from Future Fibres turned up and we fitted it on the boat within half an hour. It's incredibly light, looks fantastic and has really given my new 10 metre sports boat a very effective grand prix rigging solution."
The development of EMS is perfectly timed with the IRC rule change, not only for owners that are looking to get that extra bit out of their boat on the race track but also for those who wish to make their boat a more comfortable ride.
Reduced heel and pitching are just some of the benefits of reducing weight aloft and since the EMS's recent launch, the Cruiser-Racer market has responded accordingly, as Peter Kohlhoff, Germany's Future Fibres Agent explains:
"While composite rigging has been around for a number of years, it has always been viewed as a luxury item and out of reach for the small boat owners. With EMS, we finally have a system that fulfills the needs of this market sector in terms of performance and is priced accordingly, yet it still carries the strong Future Fibres brand and all its service benefits. The demand for EMS has been overwhelming right across the board – whether it's club racing or cruising!"
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!"
Due to be launched at this year's Monaco Yacht Show and targeted at both the superyacht and race market, the new turnbuckle replacement offers significant savings compared to alternative systems. Suitable for either above or below deck installation, the new system removes a remarkable 60 percent of the weight and height of a traditional turnbuckle. The Valencia-based R&D team was able to remove all unnecessary metalwork to develop the Low Profile (LP) Adjuster (patents pending), with the resulting simple, yet elegantly engineered solution now attaching directly into the boat's chainplate. Able to work across the full range, from 40 footers to the largest superyachts, the new system is a big step forward for product optimisation and manages to remain a cost effective alternative to a traditional turnbuckle.
As market leaders in an increasingly composite-rigged world, Future Fibres has always strived to challenge the historical technological standards. Now, the ability to produce composite cables with millimetre accuracy and zero creep, together with the almost standard use of mast jacks, has removed the need for adjustment under load to tune the mast. Head of Future Fibres R&D, Humphrey Bunyan, commented on what this has meant for development: "The LP Adjuster fits well with our design philosophy: by incorporating asymmetric, incremental adjustment within the toggle itself, we reduce the number of parts and metalwork to a minimum, which not only provides simple installation and maintenance but is inherently safe and strong. This is only possible because of the remarkable base properties of PBO.
"The LP Adjuster is another example of us working closely with yacht designers and yards to move rigging technology forward and deliver the very best package to the client. This latest development follows just months after our revolutionary Under Deck Turnbuckle (UDT) system was heralded as a massive success and featured on the Tripp 38m sloop, Cinderella IV. It's an exciting time to be in the rigging industry!"
The Future Fibres R&D department is also currently working on several other major product developments, including an improved code cable. The team has been working closely with a Madrid based technical institute to identify ways to maximise the life of existing products, as well as research into other fibres and optimising manufacturing processes.
The future of Carbon is here! Future Fibres´ all new FlexC™ carbon is a true technological innovation which has been recognized this week by the METS DAME Special Mention.
A number of carbon rigging products have appeared in the last 3-4 years which all rely on standard carbon/epoxy technology. The downside with this technology is its poor flexibility which limits its applicability for certain cable types.
Having completed homologation of their TSC technology, Future Fibres R&D team set out specifically to build a flexible carbon cable. A number of months later and the R&D workshop resembling a chemistry lab rather than a rigging shop, a flexible carbon product (FlexC™) was born.