Our new ALPHA ROPES have arrived in the Blue Lizard Shop at Changi Sailing Club. Rockstar ropes well MOVSTAR actually!
But these are no ordinary strings and are used on many successful sailing campaigns around the world including everything from the F18’s, the olympics, the Swan Cup, Vendee Globe, the Mini Transat and even, on our own Nacras!
Alpha use a mix of fibres to come up with ropes to suit purposes as they say, “different fibres, different characteristics, different results”. Looking at how modern material technology has advanced over the years, an old (good) Polyester 16mm rope would have had a breaking strain of about 4,000 kg – quite a load. By comparison today, at the pinnacle of the Alpha Ropes 16mm range is something called Z-Cup and it has a breaking strain of… 18,000 kg – like that’s about 9 small cars on one ‘string’!
To break down the rope range there are,
Polyesters – moderate to low stretch with good durability and a nice feel.
Ideal for: low cost applications where durability takes precedence over performance.
Dyneemas – with a specific gravity of less than one, it has neutral buoyancy and put performs steel and other synthetic fibres in terms tension fatigue and bending fatigue. It is unaffected by sea water and retains the same breaking strain whether wet or dry. It has very low elongation properties and therefore allows settings on control lines and sheets to be accurately maintained. these are alos 30 – 40 % lighter than their Aramid cousins.
Ideal for: control lines and other high load lines.
Kevlars – strongest of the Aramid family but is subject to failure if cycled over a small radius or exposed to sunlight/UV. There is a black Kevlar which is more resilient to UV.
Ideal for: low stretch running rigging that’s not continuously exposed to UV.
Vectrans – is a Liquid Crystal Polymer fibre that offers properties unmatched by any other high-performance fibre was 30 years in the making! It offers exception abrasion resistance and outstanding folding flexing fatigue resistance. It will not ‘creep’ even while carrying 50% of its breaking point. It is chemical resistant and works over a wide temperature range i.e. melting point is 330 degrees C.
Ideal for: ultra high load applications
Zylon – a cool name like something from Star Trek! These are at the top of the pile in terms of high-performance e.g a 6mm Zylon fibre has a breaking strain over 2000kgs, like a small car hoisted on a single shoestring sized fibre! This is a medical grade elastomer BioPolymer (and I only know that because I read it!). What it really means is that, this rope is the strongest of the lot! It goes around corners easier while holding huge loads with no creep and extremely high fatigue points!
Ideal for: all extreme high load applications like downhauls, halyards, control lines etc…
But what Alpha Ropes is very good at is taking the above fibres and mixing them into ‘ropes’. In this manner Alpha can create a rope with specific properties for varying applications all the while making them cost effective. Why they can even customise the sheaths to any colour combinations that a boat owner can dream up!
Currently in the shop the strongest rope we have is the D-Cup K Mix, a 10mm rope that breaks at close to 6,000kgs! And, at the other end of the spectrum a 2mm Ultraneema has a breaking strain of 150kgs! Tuff stuff!!
The first shipment has arrived, just in time for the Monsoon and more Madness! The next shipment will include specialised spinaker sheets i.e. super light, super strong!
And all this is because?
We want to go FASTER than we did last season! Reduce weight aloft, decrease stretch and it’ll added up to better performance…