The disruptions of 2020 have only increased the opportunities, appetite and scope for the brilliant young Italian engineers at UBI Maior to dream up ever more seductive ways to speed up your yacht.
The global pandemic has stopped or slowed many manufacturers in many industries, but not the team at UBI Maior Italia. Their crew has not only been kept busy with attacking their backlogs in production and working out how to streamline their processes, they’ve also managed to launch a new product that will bring faster and more efficient boathandling to a growing sector of performance sailing.
One positive outcome of the pandemic pause has been to give boat owners, their families and their friends an opportunity to re-connect with sailing, particularly those accustomed to the rush of chasing results in a busy regatta schedule.
The restrictions have given an opportunity to refresh our connection to the sea in a slower, more organic way, with fewer crew now a common feature, and when there is racing it is often offered in formats that are shorthanded or at least with reduced crew. Or sometimes not racing at all, but turning the clock back to when leisure sailing was the norm, either out for the day or weekend, or on extended trips cruising.
In many areas this has actually increased interest in boat use, even with the cancellation of the normal regattas, as many have sought refuge from the isolation of lockdowns and restrictions to find freedom in sailing.
UBI Maior Italia is helping meet this demand for a different, simpler kind of sailing by focusing on continued development of a product line that helped introduce them to the performance sailing world: the Jiber line of furlers. More specifically, the extension of the Jiber line into larger racing and cruising yachts that could benefit from the increased performance, reliability and versatility of this state of the art furling system.
The Jiber line’s evolutionary roots lie in the UBI Maior Italia team’s passion for innovation and improvement through clever design, re-design and use of the highest quality, most appropriate materials in fabrication of their products. What we may have believed were hardware items that had been fully developed with no further need for improvement, UBI Maior Italia then surprises us with an introduced new product that finds even greater efficiency in design, utility and performance.
When first introduced a few years ago, the Jiber system represented a huge leap forward with its light weight and versatility. The design uses the rod forestay to link the drum and swivel, and rotates to transmit the torque and furl the sail. The sail can be hoisted up and down, while the halyard tension can be adjusted at any time. The shuttle locks in position and unlocks automatically, guaranteeing faster, safer sailing and easier boat handling. Moreover, eliminating the need for a metallic head foil saves many kilograms in weight aloft, making a direct translation to improved stability, reduced pitch gyradius and thus increased performance: the weight savings of 30kg on a typical 45ft boat translates to an increase in stability equivalent to having two crew hiking on the rail.
The proven popularity of the Jiber system among both custom and production boatbuilders relies on more than just clever design, but use of high-quality materials in the component parts and versatility in installation styles.
Weight and reliability of the top and bottom units are assured with use of 6082T6 aluminium alloy milled from a single block and anodised. Polished 17-4 stainless or titanium is used in critical high-load areas, and carbon fibre or 3D-printed high-performance nylon plastic is used where metal is not needed, all to optimise strength, durability and weight.
Bottom drum types are offered as three options: an open drum type for discontinuous furler lines, a more closed wheel-type for use with a continuous line system, and a clever under-deck installation that minimises the on-deck footprint of the system to maximise the available sail area for the headsail. With all types, friction is minimised with use of high-strength roller thrust bearings and caged low-friction Torlon ball bearings.
Jiber’s lower profile dimensions of the top and bottom units allow for larger headsail sail area in the existing space, especially with the under-deck style of lower drum unit installation – this can increase luff lengths by tens of centimetres in a place where the headsail’s aerodynamic efficiency is not compromised by detached flow of leaking air pressure caused by gaps at the foot of the sail.
The Jiber TX line offers the same design and performance features for headstays composed of textile or composite materials, with attachment hardware designed to be suitable for these materials. And those who choose to upgrade from a conventional Nitronic headstay and alloy foil furling arrangement to a Jiber TX system will see the greatest possible gain in performance due to the substantial loss in weight aloft.
Jiber 60 and Jiber 80
Demand for the efficiencies of the Jiber line of furlers has now extended into the larger yacht market, where there is an exponential increase in loads and friction. The team at UBI Maior Italia has met this with two new products in the Jiber line: the new Jiber 60 for fibre headstay systems, along with the development of an even larger line, the Jiber 80.
Until now the Jiber 40 and Jiber 40 TX were the largest options in the product line, and with a breaking load of 17 tons, its use was limited to boats from 45 to 52ft in length with -40 rod headstay sizing or its composite equivalent. The new Jiber 60 will extend the range of application to yachts in the 60-65ft range, a very active area of development, especially among the newest generation of Imoca class offshore yachts where there is the highest pressure for absolute reliability and performance.
The basic design concepts for this larger Jiber line are about the same with some small but important variations. First, there is a shift in use of materials towards even greater optimisation for weight, durability and strength. For example, in the -60 line there is expanded use of 3D-printed PA12 Nylon in nonstrength applications such as the drum covers, and a choice of using more Titanium in the component parts than standard anodised aluminium or stainless steel, with this metal’s dramatic decrease in weight and increase in strength.
Yet there are also critical design differences that make the -60 even more effective in this size range: in a partnership with fellow Italian innovators at Cariboni, the optional application of hydraulic power to both the adjustable cunningham and furling drum systems. This is an exciting development for UBI Maior Italia to enter a new market where only the legacy suppliers have focused on function without the same passion for reduced weight to also enhance performance.
The luff loads on headsails in this size range are often too great to allow adjustment through halyard tension, so the use of halyard locks is common to help eliminate transmitting this load to the deck and seeing stretch in the halyard itself. This makes particular sense for furled headsails where the sail is rarely removed anyway.
This does, however, necessitate the use of a Cunningham to make the adjustments needed to control sail shape. As modern sails have developed to be extremely low stretch in their engineering, the range of adjustment required is small but under high load – a perfect application for hydraulic adjustment, and the UBI Maior Italia team has come up with a clever way to handle this as an alternative to the conventional halyard-tensioned systems in the -60 line.
Similarly, and particularly in the under-deck application, hydraulic power can be applied to the furling function too, and UBI Maior Italia is currently in development with Cariboni for this exciting function as well. Compared with current hydraulic furling systems on the market it is estimated that the new Jiber system would dramatically reduce the weight to half the current product values.
And these innovations for the -60 line are also being developed for the an even larger -80 line, bringing Jiber design and efficiency within reach of the Maxi class.
‘We have the Jiber system mounted on the structural stay of our 160 m2 J1 headsail,’ says Edoardo Mazucco, captain of the Vismara-Mills 69 Nacira. ‘We made this choice because the model is designed and built for the high loads which are involved on our boat. It is extremely reliable and easy to use, characteristics that are essential for us, especially on a cruising boat.
These features, combined with the modern design that perfectly matches the sporty character of the boat, the minimal need for maintenance and the availability of the whole UBI Maior Italia team in customer assistance made the decision of relying on them, even for the furlers, an absolute winning one.’
Another satisfied customer is Guido Paolo Gamucci, owner of the Mylius 60 CK Cippalippa, a perennial winner in the Mediterranean offshore yacht racing scene. ‘The Jiber system is definitely better-performing than any other furlers I’ve had on my boats,’ he says. ‘On a light displacement boat such as Cippalippa X, it is the only system that allows you to have the advantage of a furler while keeping the boat’s high performance. The usage of soft hanks on furling sails is the real innovative idea for furlers.’