Rigged by Marlow – An introduction to the rope used on board the Clipper Race Fleet

Marlow Ropes and Clipper Round the World Race share a long-standing historical relationship and this will be the 16th year that the two heritage brands in British sailing will join forces.  As official supplier, the Clipper 70 has been rigged mostly with D2 Racing, D2 Grand Prix 78 along with MarlowbraidDocklineMultiplait Nylon and custom Stays.  Marlow’s rope provides high strength and light weight for easy handling by crew and outstanding jammer performance for peace of mind when pushing the boat hard offshore. The following advice is useful to all sailors who use Marlow’s rope and especially the D2 Racing product.  Caring for your ropes correctly throughout the duration of the race will be a major factor in their performance and longevity.  Understanding how the ropes are affected by external influences and learning how to inspect them will ensure the ropes are safe on board.

Useful tips to keep your rope in check: 


Braided ropes can have excessive twist imparted into them by incorrect handling.  Ideally these ropes should be “hanked” in a figure of 8 fashion which avoids putting a twist in and will ensure free running when deployed.

Sheaves, Pulleys & Rollers

The profile of the groove in a sheave should support the entire rope.  Normally a semicircle of 10% greater diameter than that of the rope is appropriate.  ‘V’ groove sheaves should be avoided since they compress the rope and have points of local friction reducing the life of the rope.  Sheaves should be maintained so that they rotate freely in use.

Winches & Capstans

When a rope is wound onto a winch it is important that the wraps are neat and tightly wound.  This can be achieved by winding the rope on whilst under tension.  If the rope is wound on slack then it will be more prone to burying between the turns of the previous layer.

When using ropes on winches or capstans the friction between the rope and the barrel is vitally important since this will determine the amount of slip and the number of turns needed.  This friction is dependent on the rope material and construction as well as the surface finish in contact with the rope.  Since the rope’s geometry will change depending on load the friction can also change slightly.

UV Radiation

All the materials used in the construction of synthetic fibre ropes are to a greater or lesser extent effected by exposure to UV radiation.  Wherever possible try to limit the exposure of the rope to sunlight.  Smaller ropes are effected more than large ropes since they have a larger exposed surface area in proportion to their volume.


All ropes can be damaged if they are exposed to abrasive surfaces or sharp edges.  Care should be taken to try and avoid running a rope over any non-moving surface.  If the rope is run over sheaves or rollers they should be kept in good order with a smooth surface and they must be free to rotate.

Abrasion can also be caused by the ingress of particles into the rope.  Conditions where a rope will come into contact with sand, dirt, grit and other abrasive particles should be avoided.  Damage caused by this type of abrasion may not be visible on the outside of a rope yet the strength may be severely reduced.