A halyard wrap can occur in any boat with a rolling furler, and can have a variety of detrimental consequences ranging from damage to the furler foils, to a broken or birdcaged forestay. It is essentially the twisting of the headsail halyard around the roller furler as you furl the sail. In an optimally working furler, the halyard should remain straight and in place during furling, allowing the furling mechanism to rotate independently. Additionally, in an instance where a halyard wrap has occurred, caused considerable damage and the damage remains undetected, the strength and integrity of the forestay can actually be compromised. This is obviously quite dangerous as the rig can come down, should enough damage and strain occur. This is one of the reasons yearly Rig Checks and inspections are advisable.
In addition to yearly rig checks and inspections, there are some other preventative measures which can be implemented to help reduce the likelihood of a halyard wrap. To discuss these we must first highlight the three most common contributing factors;
1. Insufficient Halyard Tension
If the halyard does not have sufficient tension in it, there may be un-necessary slack present in the halyard. This slack greatly increases the chance of snagging or twisting as the sail is furled. If the halyard is nice and tight, it is more likely to stay nice and straight during the furl.
2. Incorrect Halyard Lead Angle
The second most common risk factor for halyard wraps is an improper halyard lead angle. Most recommendations are for a halyard lead angle of 7 Degrees or higher, but each different furler comes with specific manufacturer’s recommendations for this. A simple way to increase a halyard angle is to add a halyard diverter, which is fastened to the mast below the halyard exit, deflecting the halyard to have a more pronounced angle as it nears the foil.
Adding a halyard diverter is a fairly quick and easy job for a rigger, and can help prevent a lot of headaches and more expensive repair work down the line.
3. Insufficient Luff Length on Jib/Genoa
The smaller the distance between where the halyard exits the mast, and the top swivel, the less rope there is to potentially become wrapped. If the luff on your Jib/Genoa is too short, a Dynex Luff Extension is a great option to extend the luff length and help decrease the chance of a wrap. It is also advisable to check, or have a rigger check, the luff length of any additional sails which may be used on the furler. A Dynex luff extension of the optimum length can be spliced and fitted by Mario.
Finally, it is a good idea to avoid the over use of electric winches unless you are certain the halyard is not wrapping aloft. It is very difficult to get a feel for things that mightn’t be quite right with an electric winch, and should things be wrong, a lot more load will be applied to the problem than would ordinarily be, sometimes causing even more damage! If you feel resistance or furling feels harder than usual, ensure that you cast your eyes aloft to check if the halyard may be wrapping (moving with the foil). The last thing we want is for your summer’s sailing to be interrupted by a nasty halyard wrap, so please keep these things in mind and stay happy and safe out on the water.