Fit­ting a furler

PBO Editor David Pugh pro­vides a step-by-step guide to the DIY in­stal­la­tion of a Sailspar con­tin­u­ous line roller reef­ing sys­tem

Practical Boat Owner - - Contents -

DIY in­stal­la­tion, step-by-step

Last sea­son, our Ro­to­stay head­sail roller reef­ing was play­ing up. It wasn’t the first time: in­creas­ing wear has made it pro­gres­sively less re­li­able, and on sev­eral oc­ca­sions it has re­fused point-blank to roll up the sail, usu­ally in con­di­tions when the fore­deck is less than hos­pitable.

It may well be pos­si­ble to mend it by fight­ing the seized fix­ings apart and re­plac­ing the bear­ings, but to be hon­est we’ve lost con­fi­dence in it. In ad­di­tion, I’ve never been com­pletely con­vinced by the de­sign, which can strug­gle for me­chan­i­cal ad­van­tage de­pend­ing on how neatly the line has wound onto the drum. We wanted a sys­tem that was easy to main­tain, and I was keen to try a con­tin­u­ous line furler, which main­tains a con­stant lever­age.

Con­tin­u­ous line furlers are com­mon for gen­nakers and Code 0 sails, but less read­ily avail­able for head­sails. How­ever, Essex-based Sailspar have been mak­ing such a prod­uct for nearly 40 years and it only takes a few min­utes on­line to find that, with few ex­cep­tions, sailors are very happy with it. than a full turn around it. Sailspar was founded in 1968 by Doug Beech and Reg White. Reg also started Sail­craft, builder of the Iro­quois cata­ma­ran amongst oth­ers, with Sailspar ini­tially set up to supply the other com­pany with spars. The com­pany is still a fam­ily busi­ness, jointly owned by broth­ers David and John Beech and run by David and his wife Penny. The roller-reef­ing sys­tem re­mains their core prod­uct and has re­mained much the same as the orig­i­nal, with around 4,000 in­stal­la­tions to date.

Sailspar also make the Boom­lock gybe pre­ven­ter, but fun­da­men­tally they’re a fab­ri­ca­tion busi­ness that can make just about any­thing out of me­tal. Un­til re­cently they were a ma­jor sup­plier to the wind­farm in­dus­try on the East Coast, but when the work dried up they were forced into liq­ui­da­tion in early 2016. How­ever, John was able to step in and buy the busi­ness back, and although they are now a smaller out­fit than be­fore they are still able to supply their core prod­ucts and un­der­take cus­tom projects. The work­shop, tucked away in ru­ral Essex, is an engi­neer’s play­ground, with lathes, bend­ing ma­chines and weld­ing kit about which most of us can only dream.

A lathe at the Sailspar work­shop in ru­ral Essex

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