The Wichard Group has launched an impressive new electric furler, which incorporates a cunning use of multiple motors to keep size to an absolute minimum
Furling systems for reaching sails have transformed the ease with which these sails can be handled, with the result that many more cruising yachts now have Code 0s and furling asymmetric spinnakers than would have carried a conventional spinnaker a decade or two ago. However, manual furling systems on large yachts can still require considerable effort.
When we tested Beneteau’s Oceanis Yacht 60 the 140m2 Code 0 was on the limit for one person to handle manually and the operation was much easier, though still somewhat energetic, for two.
While we’d tend to counsel against making onboard systems unnecessarily complicated, this is an instance where electric furling is clearly beneficial. At September’s Cannes Yachting Festival another French company, the Wichard Group, unveiled a new product designed exactly for this purpose that will be sold under both its Facnor (as the FXE Code Sail Electric Furler) and Profurl brands.
The unit is designed for easy retrofitting to existing boats without needing to modify the sail or its torsion rope. It’s impressively small, with a height of only 218mm, a figure achieved through the use of multiple electric motors that total 400W of power. These spin the furler at around 85rpm, even when under load, which is fast enough to furl a 140m2 sail in only 45 seconds.
It’s set up in almost exactly the same way as an equivalent manual furler. The unit is attached to a padeye on the bowsprit with a snap shackle, but instead of a long continuous loop furling line to lead aft, there’s simply a short length of wire to plug into a dedicated waterproof socket on deck.
Power consumption under load is a manageable 20-25A and the system is designed to be quick to install. Everything needed, including relay box, circuit breaker, wire, deck plug, storage bag and protective cover is supplied as a kit. There are two options for control – either hard-wired buttons, or a radio control unit. The latter will make furling an easy one-person operation, as the furling and sheet can be controlled simultaneously.
Price: from €4,998 at facnor.com
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