For nearly two years, Colligo Marine's California 'skunkworks' has been designing and refining our newest piece of rigging technology - the ELHF ™ furling system. And it's a game changer.
"The goal was to come up with a lightweight furling system that would solve a couple of challenges," says Colligo's lead engineer John Franta. "We're rigging more and more boats with Colligo Dux synthetic rigging, but we're still limited to using wire on the headstay if the boat uses a traditional roller furling unit with aluminum extrusion. So that's one challenge. And a lot of our racing customers, especially multihulls with rotating masts, need a more flexible furling unit for the loads these high-tech masts are putting on wire headstays and fittings. They're having to change their wire headstays every 2 years, and lots of boats are getting dismasted because of the torque loads on wire fittings."
While it looks like a standard Code 0-type furler (and in fact uses the same continuous line furling unit), the ELHF ™ system differs dramatically in it's operation. Rather than a torque rope sewn into the luff of a sail, the torque rope becomes a permanent forestay, rigged just like any other. For the racing crowd, the flexible torque rope actually works with rotating masts rather than against it.
"The ELHF ™ system uses an oversize swivel that slides up the torque rope and engages into an oversize clamp aloft, allowing you to adjust the luff tension on the sail with the halyard," explained Franta. "The sail is hanked onto the torque rope with Softie ® shackles, hoisted on a halyard and tacked down to the furler, so both the head and the tack roll in simultaneously. You can't reef, but it's much easier to change sails."
One major benefit of the ELHF ™ system is that, unlike a standard Code 0 furler, the ELHF ™ allows you to lower the sail while maintaining the structural integrity of a permanent stay. No longer is the stay integral to the luff of the sail, and dependent upon the halyard, but rather is fitted to the mast like any other piece of standing rigging.
Franta emphasizes that the 1st generation ELHF ™ will appeal to early adopters in the cruiser-racer category and performance multihulls, as well as cruiser's looking for an inner forestay solution. Extensive prototype testing has been done on a 38' monohull with carbon mast, and several Corsair trimarans.
"The owners are so pleased with the furler's performance that they're practically jumping up and down," joked Franta. "But long-term, we hope that later iterations of the ELHF ™ will quite literally revolutionize headsail furling, even for day sailors and coastal cruisers. Like all Colligo products, it's designed for simplicity & robustness, and will benefit all sailors."
The 1st generation ELHF ™ is available now, while the second iteration is already in development with plans for a version usable with standard luff-tape headsails.