Sail Slides & Slugs – How to choose correctly.

Yacht mast with sail and sail slides

Sail slides and slugs may not be the most exciting piece of equipment found on a sailboat. However, they are a very useful bit of kit and can make your life on board a vessel much easier. Sail slugs and slides are most commonly found on the luff or foot of a sail, yet they are also a popular choice for catamaran trampoline attachment points.

Why use a sail slide or slug?

So, you may be wondering why you would even bother with a sail slide or slug, especially when your mainsail has a perfectly good bolt rope. Well, there are a few reasons. Firstly, the slides and slugs offer a reduction of friction over a sail boltrope, this is because there is less material being inserted inside the mast track. This reduction in friction can make hoisting and lowering a sail much easier. Secondly, with a track stop installed the sail slides cannot exit the mast meaning it is possible to lower a sail single-handed and not have the sail fly away in the wind, it will also fold itself over the boom as it’s lowered. 

What is the difference between sail slide and slug?

Slug – Sail slugs feature a round or semicircle shape that is inserted into the track. This design allows for more articulation.

Internal Slide – A small “T” shape that is inserted inside the track. Slides are one of the more commonly used versions. The “T” offers an ability to suit a wider range of tracks as well as take a higher load.

External Slide – A wrap-around design and suitable for mounting on the outside of a track which is more commonly seen on older wooden masts.

A.358 Sail slug attached to sail with A.449 sail shackle

A.358 sail slug attached to sail with A.449 screw shackle.

Which should you use?

It all comes down to what mast track you have. If your boat currently has a sail with slides or slugs then it is recommended that you take the measurements from your existing hardware and compare it to what is available.

When selecting new slides or slugs you want to ensure there will be some wiggle room so that the slides cannot stick or create extra friction in the mast track. However, it is also important that there isn’t too much space, otherwise, the slide could escape from the track. You should measure the track of your mast with a ruler or measurement calliper to find out the distance between either side of the track opening and how much space there is inside the track.

A.558DW sail slide attached with A.749 snap on shackle.

A.558DW sail slide attached with A.749 snap on shackle.

Installation of sail slides and slugs.

Once you have chosen the slide or slug and have checked it against your mast track to see if it fits correctly, you will then need to consider how to attach it to the sail.

Sail Shackle – The nylon sail shackle is the cheapest and easiest option for attaching the slide to the sail. Sail shackles are available in a variety of sizes, so it’s important to check they will fit around both the slide and the eyelet in the sail. Offered with either a screw together or snap-on attachment.  

Metal Shackle – The strongest option which also has the most choice. However, a metal shackle can bash against the mast when a sail is flogging, which can damage the mast.

Webbing – The recommended option from sailmakers as it gives the nicest finish as well as proving the most forgiving for the sail. This choice is the most labour intensive and will require a sailmaker or experienced seamstress to install the slide or slug.

A..90 sail slide attached with webbing.

A..90 sail slide attached with webbing.

Should you require any further details on any of the pieces of hardware mentioned above, then please look at the individual product pages where you can find a detailed product drawing, just click the PDF logo below the main product image. The Allen sales team is also happy to help and answer any further question.

Once you have chosen and installed the correct sail slide or slug, it’s time to get on the water and reap the rewards of hoisting and lowering the sail with ease.

Happy sailing!

View sail slides.

View sail shackles. 

View other sailmakers hardware.

Choosing the correct Cam Cleat.

Cam Cleats are available in different materials, sizes and have a wide range of accessories to suit many different applications, so it can be daunting to know which type or accessory is needed to suit specific cleating needs. Here you will find all the information required to make the right choice – all from the designers of the original aluminium cam cleat!

First, a bit of history behind the Allen Cam Cleat – The Allen Brothers, Tony and Glenn, were the inventors of the original aluminium cam cleat. They developed the idea whilst building a Hornet “JACK-O-LEAN” number 205. The brothers had started off using Tufnell cam cleats but decided they were not good enough. The Tufnell cam cleat gripped well when they were new but would make releasing the rope difficult. Once they had worn-in, just a few sailing sessions later, they would slip and be useless.

After many months of researching, designing and prototyping Tony Allen had built a machine in which he could pressure die-cast what is now known as the A..76 – Aluminium Ball Bearing Cam Cleat – although the first design did not include ball bearings. Tony and Glenn then went onto sell their version of the cam cleat for 5 shillings each.

Today Allen has two main styles of cam cleats available; Aluminium Ball Bearing or Allenite Plain Bearing. Allen cam cleats are suitable for any rope up to 10 mm diameter and have a maximum working load of 150kg. This makes them suitable for both small dinghies and yachts.

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29er Fitout Guide

29er skiff being sailed by team allen sailors.

Designed by Julian Bethwaite and first produced in 1998 the 29er is a high performance 2 person skiff that takes its pedigree from the Olympic 49er skiff. With high levels of competition around the World, the 29er is a boat that complements sailors who spend time on their boat work, preparation and skill. 

Many Team Allen sailors have gone through the 29er class on their journey to become Olympic medalists and as such we are able to offer their extensive knowledge on how they fit their boats to make them go quickly. 

 

Below you will find a list of the Team Allen approved fittings for a 29er. All parts listed below are available from Ovington Boats in the UK. Many of the standard stock items are also available from your local Allen stockist or to order online directly from us. 

 

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Which Block Do I Need?

Choosing the correct piece of hardware when making a system upgrade or replacing a broken piece of kit can sometimes be more difficult than first thought. So, we have put together this article to try and help you make an informed decision on which block to choose.

The most common reason for an aftermarket block replacement is usually down to breakages and, in most cases, sailors tend to stick to what they know and simply replace a broken piece of kit with a like for like swap. This method is usually the easiest option but, in most cases, isn’t the correct one.

Choosing a like for like replacement when the existing piece of hardware has already broken will usually lead to another major failure, in the same way, this means the piece of equipment your choosing isn’t designed for the job it performs. So, what factors should you consider when choosing a new replacement?

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“More Grip, Less Slip” With New Wave Ratchet

Introducing an additional option for our range of ratchet blocks, dubbed the Wave Ratchet, which will offer between 20 to 40%* more grip without adding any additional wear to the rope. 

Ratchet blocks are a very important part of performance sailing and can give the sailor a huge reduction in fatigue, when used appropriately. The ratchet block works by increasing friction to the rope that is being trimmed. The more friction a ratchet block adds to the system, the easier it is for the sailor to hold onto higher loads.

But, by adding more friction to a system the rope ends up taking the brunt of the punishment and will wear out more quickly. Fine, if you’re a professional sailor and receive monthly care packages of rope.

The most effective way to increase friction is to add sharp edges to the ratchet sheave, but this quickly deteriorates and wears away the rope. So, after working alongside leading rope manufacturers the Allen design team came up with a simple solution which improves grip without chewing away at your expensive rope.

The Wave Ratchet sheave has an offset V style grip, made from a hard-wearing recycled plastic nylon, which does not have sharp edges that will eat into the rope. Instead, by adjusting the V formation in the sheave to be slightly offset, the ratchet now grips the rope at additional points around the sheave, resulting in more grip. However, the new Wave Ratchet not only improves grip but as a result of the design it also allows for a less ‘jumpy’ feel when easing the sheets.

We will be offering the new Wave sheave in both the 60mm Pro-Ratchet and X2 AutoRatchet blocks.

Details

 A2160WAVE – 60mm Pro-Ratchet with Wave Sheave – 1000Kg Breaking Load

A2360WAVE – 60mm X2 AutoRatchet with Wave Sheave – 1000Kg Breaking Load – 10Kg Trigger Load.

*Grip will vary depending on the type of rope in use with the wave sheave.

Below – Standard sheave design vs Wave sheave design.

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