Clutches and jammers have always been a simple and cost effective rope holding solution when compared to a winch and, more recently, halyard locks.
Halyard locks, and the benefits in reducing mast compression, are a key component of many competitive boats and are now being more widely used on large performance cruising boats. A halyard lock is the equivalent of a traditional mainsail tack pin, just at the top of the mast. However, the use of a lock does require you to hold and adjust the full sailing load at deck level, using a clutch or jammer. With the advent of new sail designs, especially downwind sails, with most requiring extremely high luff loads, clutches and jammers are now being worked harder by another corner of the sail, namely the tack. Locks are not suited to tack applications because with mast rake changes, different types of sail carried and trimming requirements, infinite adjustment is often required. Using a clutch or jammer, these adjustments can be controlled in the normal way at deck level.
On a number of recent high performance multihulls (including the AC45's) the downwind sails are permanently attached to the bow furler, because its not practical to go out onto the bowsprit during a race. In cases like these, jammers have been used at the mast head to provide a variable locking position and are operated remotely from the deck on a trip line, just like a lock. This approach is working for a number of larger yachts were it is notoriously difficult to dimensionally control and set a sail between two points over forty metres apart and even harder to get the inboard reefs to fit.
Remote operation of clutches and jammers is now common on board many performance yachts. The first boats to embrace remote operation were the IMOCA 60's for end of boom reef jammers and tack line jammers mounted on the bow. More recently the focus on aerodynamic efficiency of deck layouts has forced designers to run sheets and halyards underdeck when possible. The TP class has led the way with remotely operated under deck spinnaker sheet clutches and pit clutches buried in the coach roof. Mini Maxi designs are following suit by utilising side mount, bonded, remote operation XXC ceramic and titanium clutches and ZS jammers.
With the holding capacity of clutches almost doubling over the past 5 years, many applications can now be held with the convenience of a handle operated unit rather than a winch release jammer. This has been particularly helpful for use on tack lines for spinnaker drops were the tack release is critical for a fast and safe drop, whether by hand or winch driven. Larger and offshore yachts carefully consider the properties of the load holding equipment they require and often reduce the load holding required with a purchase, therefore allowing a particular clutch or jammer to be used. The very latest Volvo Ocean Race 65 has been careful planned between sailors, running rigging experts and the designer, resulting in cost effective and 100% race proven solutions which work for both inshore and offshore with the removal of a single purchase.
The Spinlock high load product range, especially rope holding equipment, has developed rapidly in the last few years providing lighter, stronger and more adaptable products, without the need of expensive customisation, all with ever increasing load holding capacity.
Contact Spinlock directly to discuss any projects you have in mind where we maybe able to provide a competitive edge, make your life on board easier or simply more organised.