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.