Standing rigging has come an impressively long way from the sturdy but stretchy, wound stainless of our youth. The top end of performance yachting has since gone through rod, early composites such as aramids, Spectra, PBO and Vectran and ended up today mostly with carbon fibre. Teething problems with carbon fibre rigging, especially getting it to turn corners and terminate, have been solved and today, for some, the manufacturing process is more akin to boatbuilding. Incredibly, the very latest high-tech carbon rigging all but eliminate stretch.
Spearing this revolution for more than two decades has been Dr Andy Winistoerfer. For many years Dr Winistoerfer was a leading light at EMPA, the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology, where he developed the anchoring system for bundled carbon cables which is still in use today. His now well-established company, Carbo-Link, was born in the 1990s as commercial spin-off from EMPA and the STEM university ETH Zurich after they had been commissioned to design, engineer and manufacture the giant cables for the 124m cable-stayed bridge in Winterthur, Switzerland. The bundled carbon fibre cables supplied for this had a breaking load of 1,200 tonnes. Read on.