Halyards perform the specific task of hoisting sails aloft on Dinghies, Dayboats and Sailing Yachts
Halyards can be all rope, all wire or a combination of wire spliced to rope.
Historically, halyard lines were worked and secured at the mast base. However, it is becoming increasingly popular to lead the line aft via a mast base block back to a rope clutch fitted on the coaming for working in the relative safety of the cockpit.
Whichever system is used, the line usually travels up inside the mast to a turning point (sheave) above the desired hoist height of the sail. Here the halyard will exit the mast and come back to deck level outside the mast, ready for attachment to the sail.
There are some notable deviations from this set-up: Luggers, catboats, and yawls attach halyards externally to a gaff or spar which holds the sail aloft. Racing yachts may create a 2:1 purchase on the halyard by adding a turning block to the head of the sail. The halyard exits the mast and passes through the block before finally terminating at the masthead. The benefits are greater tension in the halyard and a reduced distance that the sail can come down under load (sometimes referred to as sag).
Hoisting a sail aboard a yacht usually requires assistance from a winch and a clutch or cleat to secure it aloft.
Most modern lines have a double braid construction designed to grip and withstand the abrasion created by these clutches and winches.
The intended type of sailing and the sail area will dictate the rope fibre, construction and diameter required.
Racing yachts tend to opt for a polyester line with a high-performance Dyneema core, while cruisers may find a 100% polyester line perfectly adequate.
For guidance on selecting the best rope for a new or replacement Halyard read our article Running Rigging Rope Options Explained
Halyards are categorised into Cruising, Performance and Dinghy:
100% Polyester Lines with approximately 4%– 5% stretch
LIROS Braid on Braid EVO is the new generation, lower stretch, high-load version of LIROS Braid on Braid and by far the most popular rope for all running rigging applications.
LIROS Herkules is the next upgrade featuring extra durability for extended cruising.
Marlowbraid is the Marlow equivalent and sits broadly in the same category.
Cruising Dyneema is constructed from a Dyneema Core inside a Polyester Outer Jacket with approximately 2%-3% stretch
LIROS Dynamic Plus is by far the most popular line in this category with an SK78 core, extra inner plait construction for maintaining a stable form under load and 32plait close weave abrasion resistant polyester cover with several colour coded and full colour options.
Marlow D2 Competition was the nearest equivalent to Dynamic Plus but it has been discontinued and replaced by Marlow D2 Club which has a lower specification SK35 Dyneema core.
Racing Dyneema - = Dyneema Core with Polyester Outer Jacket with approximately 1%-1.5% stretch
LIROS Regatta 2000 is the premium racing performance solution recommended for halyards by the manufacturers, LIROS Yacht Ropes – Dyneema SK78 core, the enhanced abrasion resistance delivered by the Steel Blue coloured yarn is a significant advantage in harsh sailing conditions.
LIROS Racer 2001 is more widely known in the UK and delivers a similar performance featuring a specially engineered 32plait (6mm, 8mm 24plait) spin-dyed high tenacity polyester cover with a braided Dyneema SK78 core.
Marlow D2 Racing is the comparable Marlow alternative to LIROS Racer 2001 featuring a 24plait high tenacity polyester jacket with pre-stretched, colour matching, 12 strand Dyneema SK78 core.
Extreme Performance Dyneema - = Dyneema Core with Polyester/Vectran/Technora blended Outer Jacket with approximately 1% stretch
LIROS Control XTR is the ultimate line for extreme (LIROS abbreviate extreme to XTR) conditions where the rigging will be pushed to the limit – Control XTR has a blended 32plait Technora/Polyester cover delivering exceptional grip, heat resilience, shape retention and abrasion resistance with a super pre-stretched and coated braided SK99 Dyneema core for the lowest possible stretch and highest break load.
Marlow D2 Grand Prix is the upgraded version of D2 Racing with a super pre-stretched Dyneema SK78 core and Technora/Polyester blended cover.
Dinghy Halyards can be selected by using a similar approach based on desired performance in terms of stretch, anti-twist handling and wear resistance
Marlow Excel Pro and LIROS 8plait Pre-stretched are 100% Polyester lines.
LIROS Magic Pro and Marlow Excel Racing have a Dyneema SK78 core and polyester jacket
Marlow Excel GP78 has a similar core with an upgraded blended Technora/Polyester jacket
LIROS Magic XTR is the ultimate dinghy halyard combining an SK78 Dyneema core with a blended Technora/Dyneema SK78 jacket
The Running Rigging Resource in the Jimmy Green Knowledge Centre provides more in-depth information on making the best choice for your sailing requirements e.g.
How to Select a Suitable Halyard Rope
Running Rigging Rope Fibres and Construction Explained
Cruising and Racing Dyneema Comparison
The Jimmy Green Marine Rigging Team can help specify your new halyard. The filters below should help guide you towards a suitable diameter line. Alternatively, you can send us a few inches of the old one for us to check. There is a rule of thumb for specifying the length required as shown below. If you are going to remove the old halyard, ensure that you attach a Mousing Line to the end ready to reeve the new halyard.
Halyard Length - How to estimate the length of your halyard
Main Halyard - 2.2 x length of the mast
Genoa Halyard - 2.3 x length of the mast
Spinnaker or Gennaker Halyard - 2.3 x length of the mast
Fractional Genoa Halyard - 2 x length of the mast
Fractional Spinnaker Halyard - 2 x length of the mast
Advisory Reminder for halyards that are led back to the cockpit
Remember to add on the distance from the bottom of the mast into the cockpit including any deviation via turning blocks, turning sheaves and clutches.
N.B. The most accurate method is to measure the old halyard and make any necessary adjustments.
Remember to mouse a line through the mast to facilitate reeving the new halyard :-)
Jimmy Green Marine has a wide choice of ropes for cruising and racing, but it doesn't take long to get a quote. You can simply buy the rope cut to length or choose the splicing, whipping and shackle for Team Jimmy Green to complete the halyard. Some lines can be cover stripped for Ultimate Tapered Halyard Performance. You are welcome to send us your existing shackles to splice on for you.