There was an interesting piece in a recent edition of French sailing magazine Voiles et Voiliers on gennaker furlers. These gears are very popular in France, and through their extensive use aboard racing multihulls and Vendee Globe boats have undergone real battlefield testing over the last ten years, to the extent that they must now be considered well and truly proven. And, it has to be said, the French manufacturers have tended to lead the world in their development.
The test looked at seven sets of gear from different manufacturers – Bamar, Bartels, Facnor, Harken, Karver, Profurl and Selden. Ease of handling was extensively covered (removal of furling line, clevis pins etc), and all gears were tested for their ability to operate under high load conditions, which yielded some interesting results. Some gears struggled to handle their rated working loads without an increase in the load requirement on the reefing line, for example. Several interesting points were raised that were peripheral to the test itself, that might be pertinent to anyone considering a furler for their own boat.
You have rated Facnor’s the highest. I will not use them ever again… after their heads’l furling gear failed on one of our big cats. When the drum seized we opened it to find all the balls missing from the 2 races…. the keeper, what remained of it, was found to be mild steel not s/s. They acknowledged this fault but would not replace it without charge…. when a charter boat goes down it’s not just the cost of replacement, it’s the down time that hurts… just as much if not more. DV
Sorry to hear about your problem with the furling gear. Potentially worrying for us, too, as we have a Facnor heads’l furler, so we’ll keep a careful eye on it.
And having many years experience running a charter boat, I can only sympathise re your point about downtime from breakdowns, which has cost me plenty on a couple of occasions. And in the event of an accident, no insurer I know of offers any cover for ‘consequential loss’ – another reason I’m not entirely sorry to be out of that world.
Very good that you identified this article.
I am considering a Gennaker furler and this is the first time I have seen a comparison. I was considering Profurl and Karver (they have developed a large diameter drum). It is difficult to match the specs as for an asymetric 120m2 – I am in the boat displacement range (9.1tonnes) but outside the rated sail areas range. Anyway now it also seems I have to also consider the Facnor (which happens to be the same as my existing conventional reefing system). Where can I get my hands on the full article, if possible electronically so that I can translate it with Google? Many thanks.