Offshore racing can offer a brutal environment, which is why those who participate seriously are always testing their limits. Equipment also needs to perform to a similar level in the same conditions but has to remain completely reliable under every circumstance. Whether a big professional programme or a Corinthian Vendée racer, failure is not an option.
It is in this milieu that, 35 years ago, Facnor started developing furling systems that could assist sailors in controlling the power needed to cross oceans fast, but at the same time be safe and reliable. Not an easy task.
Facnor’s engineers met these demands with expertise in not only mechanical engineering, metallurgy and composite design, but also with a spirit of innovation that only a small company can have when it is able to adapt quickly to new ideas.
It all started in 1981 when Jean Michel Despres, technical manager at Isomat, failed to convince his employers to enter a sector that he considered central to both cruising and the fast-growing fraternity of serious shorthanded racers – the headsail furler. So Despres left to found Facnor with the aim of specialising in the design and fabrication of new furling solutions, first for the leisure market then moving into the high-performance sector.
Facnor’s design team introduced a revolution in furling solutions in 1985, with a patented telescopic system that vastly improved operation under load; the same product line evolves to this day.
Soon after the first furlers appeared the same engineers turned their attention to mainsail systems, the result being the Facnor Facslide system of batten cars. This was followed by a new range of continuous line furlers plus the FlatDeck jib furler. This latter product won the Pittman prize in the Racing Gear category at the Chicago Sail Show, along with awards from SAIL magazine in the US and Segeln magazine in Germany.
At least 80 per cent of the boatbuilders in France now choose Facnor systems for their boats. Read on.