Sunday, 7 September 2008

PBO Rigging

Whilst we are on the subject of rigging let's have a brief look at the 'new kid on the block' of rigging. PBO (polybenzoxazole) has been around for almost ten years now, but to date has largely only been used on high tech and very expensive racing yachts. It has shown up on some smaller racing boats but in the main, because of its cost, it has been a big boat item.

Like Formula One motor racing it has had rigourous testing under the most severe conditions and come out the other end measuring up with some major benefits to all sailors. And, like motor racing these benefits will trickle down to be used more widely as the costs tumble and are more affordable to the average sailor. This is already occuring and ultimately the price of pbo rigging will be comparable to wire strand and rod rigging.

Weight aloft is always an issue, hence the much wider use today of composite materials for masts. The less weight aloft, the better the righting moment of your boat. The same philosophy applies to pbo rigging as a major weight saving can be gained - this can be up to seventy percent over standard riggings.

Pbo rigging can be up to fifty percent stronger and all this comes at only a slight increase in windage as the pbo available guage is a little heavier. I believe most yachtsmen would be happy to sacrifice that in favour of the benefits.

The effect of weight aloft is magnified by its height above the yacht's Vertical Centre Of Gravity (VCOG). For every 1kg saved in the midpoint of the rigging approximately 5kgs can be saved off the counter balance of the keel. Thus for an average 60' yacht saving 100kgs on the rig using PBO gives a further saving of ½ tonne in the keel.

In simple terms PBO rigging gives you a lighter, stronger, safer rig. In practical terms PBO gives you the edge.

The Swan 601 to the right is pbo rigged.

Special fittings, deck, spar and spreader fittings are also now available for the pbo rigging.

These products are currently being manufactured by several companies and there is a very interesting article on this high tech system on the Navtec website. Google up PBO rigging and you will find it available in PDF format which you can download if you wish. Another good article is on Sailing site.

Some text made available courtesy Navtec and Colt.

You can read more about wire strand and rod rigging adventures and how we fixed them in my ebook 'Voyage of the Little Ship 'Tere Moana', downloadable from my website http ://

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