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Tailored to perfection

North Sails

It’s not just top raceboats that require customised line solutions.

Marlow Ropes’ Grand Prix series has revolutionised the way sailors specify and order their high performance running rigging. Whatever kind of boat you sail, chances are you want your ropes to help you operate at the highest possible level around the racecourse. But because you care about cost and sustainability, you don’t want to order any more rope than you need for the task in hand.

Thanks to a system of continuous feedback from Marlow Ropes’ global network of specialist grand prix riggers, and from customers themselves, the Grand Prix series is always in a state of development, always looking for new ways to improve the product and the service.

The Grand Prix Series uses the highest performance materials such as Dyneema SK99, Zylon, Technora, Kevlar, Teflon and Zyex. Marlow’s technical team works with their network of riggers to adjust the combinations and percentages of these materials to create the desired qualities for any given cover or core, such as higher strength, improved abrasion resistance and thermal properties, higher or lower friction and improved winch or other deck gear handling properties.

According to leisure marine sales director, Paul Honess, ‘We’re able to offer a wide variety of customisations including core inserts, tapered ropes, diameter increases and hoist markers, even with glow-in-the-dark options, along with rigging extras such as chafe covers, Armourcoat and other specialist coatings.’

Knowledge, passion and obsession with getting the details right has led to partnerships with the best riggers and high performers across all aspects of the racing circuit. Customers include:

  • America’s Cup teams for the last 25 years including recently American Magic and Ineos Team UK
  • Vendée Globe competitors Boris Herrmann and Pip Hare
  • 11th Hour Racing Team
  • Official Rope Supplier to the SailGP fleet
Main image: Marlow has been making ropes specifically for sailing since 1957. Its factory at Hailsham in southern England now produces six million metres per year.

‘Marlow is also well represented at major inshore championships such as the Maxi Worlds and TP52 Super Series, as well as in the offshore arena such as the Rolex Fastnet Race, Sydney Hobart and the Transpac Race,’ says Honess. ‘The innovation and knowledge gained from manufacturing at the top of the sport trickles down into our standard cruiser-racer and dinghy ranges.

‘The technology learned for producing high performance is used to develop high performing ropes for the everyday sailor with products such as the D2 Grand Prix 78, D2 Racing 78, D2 Club, D12 and Doublebraids. This enables Marlow Ropes to offer high performance solutions for all sailors, regardless of where and how they sail.’

While high performance has always been at the core of Marlow Ropes’ ambitions, the past few years have seen a very strong and ever-increasing focus on maximising sustainability. The company has been working closely with 11th Hour Racing Team for a few years now, with sustainability key to everything that this ambitious team does. ‘11th Hour Racing Team has worked with us to test various high performing Grand Prix products and this includes our sustainable material range,’ says Honess.

11th Hour Racing Team is working with Marlow to test the capabilities of Bio-Based Dyneema and Blue Ocean ropes which have a much lower environmental footprint than regular marine cordage.

The MGP series is sustainable by nature, and this is a priority that many of the top race teams now rank very highly in their campaigns. ‘Rope production is much lower as smaller customised lengths are manufactured,’ Honess explains. ‘Everything is cut to length, made to order, which ensures less waste and less energy is used’.

One of Marlow Ropes’ other great strengths is the diversity of market sectors in which it operates. These include defence, arboriculture, rope access and technical rescue, forestry, offshore marine, lifting and industrial rigging. Paul Dyer, technical manager across all markets, says this diversity of sectors really helped Marlow Ropes weather the Covid storm over the past year. ‘We actually saw a big growth in some market sectors, and our spread across so many markets brings us a level of financial stability.

‘Perhaps more importantly for our sailing customers, our R&D department is always learning new things from one sector that can be applied to another. There is a great cross-pollination of ideas and innovations that we wouldn’t get if Marlow wasn’t operating across these other markets.’

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