Offshore Challenge? How Load Sensing Can Guide You Through The Night

Having a good eye for sail trim when the going is good is one thing, but what happens when the dark draws in, fatigue begins to take effect, and shifty winds require constant gear changing? 

There is a new piece of technology helping top sailors maximise performance at night. Having been adopted by the vast majority of the leading IMOCA teams, Overall winners of the Caribbean 600, the Rolex China Sea Race, the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race, and line honours winners of the Rolex Middle Sea Race, as well as current Fastnet Champions JPK 1180 ‘Sunrise’, wireless load sensors from Cyclops have changed how offshore sailors perform in the dark.

Tim Wright / www.photoaction.com

“It’s a major reason we were able to push through and take the win. We’re conscious when using the Jib Top we could exceed the safe working load in the Bowsprit & Halyard Lock. The smartlink was below the furler & we knew our Max Working Load so could push hard with confidence.”

Sunrise navigator Tom Cheney on their smartlink from Cyclops, speaking after IRC 1 victory in the Caribbean 600 2022
smartlink on Sunrise

Sailing is a constant process of adjusting the shape of your sails based on what you ‘feel’ will maximise speed. With Cyclops you eliminate the need for guesswork, combining your natural feeling and experience with exact rig data presented wirelessly in real time on your displays. 

This competitive advantage proves invaluable at any time, but where many top offshore sailors have lauded the data is in its ability to enable them to “see” without seeing – as the live load data correlates exactly to sail shape – it reveals sail shape in the middle of the night when getting the right setting is particularly tricky…

“We have some numbers that we rely on, so, in the middle of the night for a given wind strength just hitting the number and knowing… ok this is fast… we’re there now.”

Peter Gustafsson – Skipper & Owner J/111 Blur, 2021 Rolex Middle Sea Race ORC 5 Winner, AEGEAN 600 ORC 2 Winner 2021.
smarttune wireless load sensor on the forestay of Blur

The ultimate nightmare for the offshore sailors is, of course, equipment failure. In the middle of the night, early in the morning and around the clock, constant, live load data from Cyclops sensors also helps you to push the boat hard while staying safely within your limits and avoiding any nasty surprises. 

“On night one of the race the fleet was hit with a strong southerly squall, known here as a ‘southerly buster’. The southerly peaked at about forty knots and… continued for about two days. Sadly almost half the fleet retired due to a variety of rig, sail, mechanical, and crew issues with more than half of the two handed fleet retiring… Clearly in these conditions the Cyclops smarttune was a great asset to have on board. To have precise load readings, rather than guess work – particularly at the height of the squall was invaluable”. 

Shane Connelly, Skipper, J/99 ‘Rum Rebellion’, after a gruelling Rolex Sydney Hobart 2021

Wireless load sensing has made a huge impact on shorthanded fleets, with the heightened need to economise effort, and exercise close control with a small crew, exact load data is massive:

“If, for instance, you’re double handers in the dark, in the middle of a long race, very tired, and you know what number you’re trying to hit that’s a good setting, a good mode, then it makes it very easy to find that setting”.

Ruaridh Wright, Pro Sailor, North Sails Expert
Ruaridh Wright

Lombard 34 ‘Mistral’ winners of the Two-Handed Division, 2023 Rolex Sydney Hobart use a smarttune wireless load sensor on the forestay:

“The hounds on Mistral’s rig are relatively high for a Fractional rig and the spreaders are quite swept back with the side chainplates very wide. This makes the dock-tune tension on the forestay a big determinant of on-water forestay sag because the backstays don’t move the mast head very much. Now we have dock tune loads for different conditions which has improved jib setup on the water. It’s also good to be able to put reference marks on the backstay tails for desired forestay load so that we can come out of tacks and know what forestay tension we have.”

Rupert Henry, Co-Skipper
smarttune on the forestay of ‘Simpson Marine’, winners of the double-handed class and second overall in the Rolex China Sea Race 2023

The offshore season is ramping up. This past week, sailors using Cyclops were right across the fleet at the ORC Europeans, and a Cyclops customer won the RORC Morgan Cup Overall. The IRC Nationals are about to kick off, and the Transpac, St Malo, and Fastnet are all lurking on the horizon!

If you want to compete on a level playing field, wireless load data is essential.

Contact Cyclops and find the solution for your boat, or learn more about applications for Keelboats here.

Browse Wireless Load Sensors…

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