What are Captive Winch Systems? An Expert’s Insight…

What are Captive Winch Systems? An Expert’s Insight…

Published 12 January 2017
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Published 12 January 2017
With superyacht regattas becoming more competitive the boats are being pushed much harder by their often professional race crews which has meant that the design and operating parameters of the captive winches on these 30+ meter sailing works of art has taken a leap forward in the last few years.
These changes in captive winch design have meant that the top rope manufacturers have had to look at both the construction of their ropes and what they are being asked to achieve; for some this has lead to the introduction of new lines specifically designed for the task.
The advent of captive winches allowed superyachts to have these high load winches in lockers on deck or even below decks in bilge spaces. This meant that high load sheets and halyards normally run above deck and onto standard winches could be lead below and out of the way of guests and crew making it safer when sailing.
With the trimmers now able to control the sheets with buttons on the helm station or even remote control boxes controlling the winches via the boats wifi system the army of grinders who used to be the engine room of the yacht supplying the muscle power to the trimmers and pitmen became a thing of the past and moved further forward in the boat to become part of the foredeck crew.
With the winches positioned in bilges or deck lockers it often means that they are a long way from the sails that they are servicing, this creates various issues for the rope suppliers and riggers.
From a rope manufacturers point of view this often means that their highly loaded lines are required to pass through tensioned feeder sheaves and various turning blocks before arriving at the captive winch drum. With every deflection or bend of the rope, chafe and fatigue are introduced into the cover and core shortening the working life of the line. On deck the tensioned feeder sheaves that feed the line onto the drum at a constant load are often not adjusted correctly. This can mean that they are rotating faster than the rope is traveling creating excessive heat in the cover resulting in melted fibres or broken covers.
If the rope covers have not been milked correctly when the sheets were built and installed the feeder sheaves will introduce slack into the covers often meaning that the ropes will get stuck while passing through sheaves or turning blocks, again leading to badly damaged or broken covers.
Working closely with RSB Rigging the team at Gotifredi Mafioli have produced a new line specifically designed for captive winches. They have taken into account all these issues and created a new rope with better bend fatigue characteristics and harder wearing covers meaning a prolonged working life of the rope with a lower chance of failure due to heavy use resulting in a safer sail control system.
When looking for new running rigging for your captive winches, it is essential to consult with expert riggers who have the experience with the different systems and can recommend the best possible technical lines. Our splicing team will be happy to offer advice and build and supply the right products for your boat.
Do you need training on the ropes and systems? Our team can provide experienced riggers and personnel with the technical rope knowledge to help crew get to grips with the systems and learn about the ropes, and maintaining them. You can request to sail trail with our team to practice manoeuvres and ensure your crew understand the workings of the systems etc. Simply email info@rsb-rigging.com to speak with our team.

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