When you need to replace running rigging, be it the mainsail halyard or your jib sheets, figuring out what size and type of line you need among all of the options can be intimidating for the average sailor. Below, we help you navigate to the best line for your application by showing you how to calculate working loads for sheets and control lines, by describing the characteristics of the different fibers used in today’s line, and by explaining the unique aspects of each Samson line.
Working Load for Sheets and Control Lines
The first consideration for selecting a new line is to determine the working load that your new line will be under. For sheets or control lines, the anticipated load should be considered the working load. To figure out working load on sheets for genoas, jibs, end of boom mainsheets, spinnaker guys and sheets, the following formula can be used (not applicable to multi-hull vessels):
(windspeed)2 × .004 × (sail area in square feet) = sheet load at clew in pounds
According to Samson, “The standard working load for any Samson rope is 20% of the rated breaking strength.” What does that mean? It means that whatever line you choose needs to have a breaking strength that is five times (5X) greater than the working load you’ve come up with!
Working Load for Halyards
If you need to replace a halyard, we recommend that you consult with a professional rigger as there are many factors, and no single formula, that must be taken into account to determine the working load.
Nylon was the first synthetic fiber used in rope construction and while strong, it is too elastic for most purposes other than dock or anchor lines. Next came polyester – which was just as strong as nylon, but with less stretch and better flexibility for working with winches. While polyester double braids are still regarded as suitable for many applications, Samson and other rope makers have begun offering a new generation of lines using synthetic fibers with significant advancements in strength, performance and reliability:
- Dyneema® is super lightweight, low stretch and is at least as strong as steel wire of the same size. It also has UV and abrasion resistance.
- Technora® blends many of those same characteristics of Dyneema with extreme heat resistance.
- Vectran® is known for very high strength and excellent heat resistance.
- Zylon® is the highest strength of them all, but offers no UV protection.
Line makers will often blend these fibers together to achieve the kind of rope needed for the specific purpose at hand.
Armed with your new knowledge on fibers and construction – what is the right line for you? Are you a high-tech racer where every ounce of weight counts and who’s putting their rig through super tough loads to win the race? Or are you a cruiser – out to sail pleasantly from point A to point B just for the simple joy of sailing? Or maybe you are ready to set out on a great voyage across the ocean and want something in between? The beauty of Samson is that they have something for everyone. Take a look at the following table from Samson, as well as the product descriptions that follow, to help determine the right line for your needs.
AmSteel – A class II, 12-strand line constructed of Samthane-coated Dyneema fiber. This line is super lightweight, has high strength and low stretch, is easy to splice and it floats! It’s great for halyards, control or reefing lines and lifelines.
AmSteel Blue – A class II, 12-strand single braid constructed of 100% Dyneema fiber. It has the maximum strength-to-weight ratio of any single braid line that Samson makes. Along with having superior wear and flex fatigue, it is UV stabilized, has very low stretch and it also floats! Samson recommends this line for areas controlled by winch or rope clutches, along with all the other uses mentioned above for AmSteel.
AS-78 – A class II, 12-strand single braid which incorporates Dyneema SK78. This line combines high strength with low weight, low stretch and great abrasion resistance – plus it also floats! It’s pretty slippery though, so add a cover if you need to cleat it or run it through a stopper. This line is good for halyards, control lines or running backs.
AS-90 – A class II, 12-strand single braid constructed of Dyneema SK90 fiber technology. It provides an unbelievable 12% increase in strength over other Dyneema lines while incorporating all the same benefits like low creep and durability. This line is meant for halyards, sheets, control lines or running backs.
Control-DPX – A class II, 12-strand line that combines Dyneema with Samson’s DPX technology for a strong, lightweight line that is easier on the hands. It’s low stretch, easy to splice and works great on winch drums, but should not be used with a self-tailing winch. This line is good for sheets, spinnaker guys and control lines.
Lightning Rope – A class II, 12-strand line that blends Vectran and Dyneema fibers into a lightweight, low stretch, low creep line. The perfect line where weight might be an issue and a high strength-to-weight ratio is needed. Use for halyards, control lines running backs or trapeze lines.
LS Yacht Braid – A class I, double braid line with a polyester cover and core. This line has high strength, is comfortable to handle and has excellent abrasion resistance and flexibility. It is meant to be used for sheets, control lines or reefing lines.
MLX – A class II double braid line that incorporates a Dyneema core with a polyester cover. This line is lightweight, has high strength and low stretch. Samson recommends this line for halyards, sheets and control lines.
Trophy Braid – A class I double braid constructed with a polyester cover and core – offering a soft cover that is very easy on the hands. Great for use on sheets and control lines.
Validator-12 – A class II 12-strand line constructed from 100% Vectran fiber with a Samthane coating. This line is easy to splice, has low creep and is extremely strong and lightweight. It can be used for halyards, running backs or davits.
Validator II – A class II, double braid line constructed with a 100% Vectran-fiber core and a 24-strand polyester cover. This gives not only very high strength and low creep for static load applications, but it also handles easily on winches with great abrasion resistance. This line is good for halyards, mainsheets, jib/genoa sheets, spinnaker guys or control lines.
Validator SKB – A class II double braid built with a blend of Dyneema and Vectran fibers, with a 24-strand polyester cover – giving the highest strength and low stretch option of the Validator lines. Use for halyards, sheets, and control or reefing lines.
WarpSpeed White – A class II double braid line constructed with a 100% Dyneema SK78 fiber core and a flexible 24-strand polyester cover. This line is the high-performance racers choice, combining high strength with low stretch and very low weight. Great for use as a halyard, sheets, spinnaker guys or control lines.
WarpSpeed II - A class II double braid line constructed with 100% Dyneema SK78 fiber core with a flexible 24-strand polyester cover that provides good handling, excellent performance in stoppers and clutches and enhanced abrasion resistance. The cover can be stripped for less weight onboard - great for halyards, control lines and spinnaker sheets.
XLS Yacht Braid – a class I polyester double braid for cruising sailors, which has low stretch, great abrasion resistance and the highest strength of any of the polyester lines from Samson. This workhorse can be used for halyards, sheets, spinnaker guys, control or reefing lines, lifelines and for davits.
Class I vs. Class II
If you’ve done any splicing, you’ll have heard of ropes being referred to as Class I or II. What this indicates is where the strength of the line lays – equally with the core and cover – or just with the core.
It’s extremely important to understand the difference if you plan to do any splicing as Class I and Class II lines are spliced completely differently and it’s absolutely CRITICAL to use the correct splicing technique to maintain the line specifications!
For more information on breaking strengths and sizes – just click on the product links for each type of line. If you still have questions, or would like to learn more about the full range of splicing services we offer, please give our product experts a call at (800) 426-6930.
Want to learn a little about Dock Lines? Click HERE.