Every now and then, a new gadget comes along that can change the way we sail, or how we think about sailing, or both. Load measurement is a strong contender right now to become the next big thing, thanks to a new and potentially transformational piece of kit.
Load measurement has proven to be a powerful tool for America’s Cup teams and others at the bleeding edge of yacht racing. Its performance-enhancing benefits are now about to become much more widely available with the launch of an ingenious and entirely new type of load cell, the Cyclops Link. Don’t be surprised if load measurement soon trickles all the way down to become standard practice at sportsboat regattas.
With all the technology we have on board these days, particularly at the high-performance end of the sport, you might think that sailing has become an exact science. You’d be wrong, we’re not there yet. Surprisingly few yacht crews know about their actual sailing loads, even though it’s well known that the use of repeatable load settings enables a crew to get the best performance without exceeding structural limits of yacht and equipment: loads in backstays and checkstays control the shape of the mast, while forestay, halyard and cunningham tensions affect the aerodynamic shape of sails.