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Colour Coding for Running Rigging

Colour Coding for Running Rigging - Cruising Ropes

Jimmy Green Marine offer a comprehensive range of Running Rigging Lines for cruising and performance yachts, with an excellent choice of different colours, all from world-renowned European rope manufacturers LIROS and Marlow.

The wide selection of colour options makes it readily achievable to make each line easily recognisable in its own right and each application a logical, coordinated theme.

At first, it may seem a bewildering task. Still, with Jimmy Green's vast array of colour choices, and the information in this article, you can experience the luxury of following our suggestions or devising a colour scheme that suits your personal requirements.

There is an excellent choice of colours in every rope to differentiate between applications and facilitate simple line recognition.

LIROS and Marlow Yacht Ropes are manufactured with a recognisable hallmark.

LIROS Tracer yarn

Marlow tracer yarn

This strand is known as a marker yarn or a tracer yarn.

Manufacturers insert their hallmarks for provenance.

The marker yarn may be distinctive, acting like a logo, broadcasting the manufacturer brand, as in the photos above - more prominent in ropes that feature varied colours.

LIROS is blue and yellow intertwined. Marlow is simply black.

Alternatively, the marker may be discreet, barely discernible for aesthetic reasons - usually for a single solid colour where a contrasting marker may be detrimental to the appearance.

When a tracer is hidden, i.e. buried (or non-existent), we try to make this clear in our description, e.g. to avoid any misunderstanding, our term 'Plain White' means just that, with no manufacturer marker yarns.

Jimmy Green Rope Colour Descriptions and Terminology explained

Colour Options:

Colour names are usually prefixed with full or solid to differentiate them from partially coloured lines, e.g. white with coding; see below

White can be plain white or white with marker yarn.
White with colour coding (also known as a fleck) is the most popular option for cruising sheets, halyards and control lines offering multiple variations.

Full or solid colours allow more styling and variation - these may not have a manufacturer marker yarn for appearance's sake, e.g. plain beige for Classic Yachts.

Blended Full Colours spruce up the options using a common shade, e.g. grey, with a contrasting colour.

Cruising Lines are generally available in both white with a colour coding and in solid colours.

Racing Lines are generally only offered in solid colours.

Extreme Performance Lines are generally only available in solid colours blended with heat and abrasion-resistant yarns, e.g. Technora, Dyneema or Vectran, which alters how they look.

Types of Rope Colours

Traditional rope code colours

Traditionally, the colours of the primary rigging lines are plain white for mainsail halyard, blue or white/blue for headsail sheets and halyard, and red or white/red for spinnaker sheets and halyard.

There are many more colour options available now than there ever used to be, so you can be a little braver in making them different but still logical.

Black and white/black provide an excellent option, as does solid navy.

Herkules Vision features solid colours blended with grey.

Red and Green can distinguish between port and starboard lines, e.g. sheets and guys.

Some people avoid green for superstitious reasons, and there are plenty of alternatives - black, blue, red, and yellow options with coding, solid colours and blends.

It will be beneficial to have recognisably different ropes when they are handled close to each other, e.g. running through any clutches grouped in and around the cockpit.

Jimmy Green Suggestions for colour coding your running rigging:

  • Main Halyard = plain white
  • Main Sheet = plain white or white with a choice of coding
  • Topping lift = white with a choice of coding
  • Headsail = solid blue, solid navy, or white/blue
  • Spinnaker = solid red or white/red
  • Spinnaker lift = solid yellow or white/yellow
  • Reef 1 = white/blue    Reef 2 = white/red      Reef 3 white/yellow
  • Kicking strap = white with black coding, a black/grey blend or solid black
  • Outhaul = white with a choice of coding

You can also coordinate your lines with a colour theme for each sail control application.

e.g. Genoa Halyard in white with blue coding - Genoa Sheets in solid blue

Here are some, but not necessarily all, the colour choices we have available for sheets, halyards and control lines.