Twin Pole - Auto Launch System

10/11/2011 12:58:37
A good few of you may have seen the launch system on Stealth 3722 this season. If anyone is considering it I don't mind sharing the details and tweaks. Photo's are available


10/11/2011 13:32:22
Mike R
We have been using the auto launch system on 3510 for the last few months and found that it was fairly easy to set up, many thanks to Dave & Jonny for all their help. 
We have found that the system is great for crews who don't like having to put the pole on in a bit of a swell with the boat rocking arround and gybes are much quicker than with the manual pole system.
Most of our sailing is on very restricted waters and the auto launch can make the difference between the kite paying on a short leg or not.
We did have one 'incident' at Abbersoch this year where Janey tried to retrieve the pole with her head but this issue is now sorted and is mainly a case of new technique for pole retrieval.

If you are thinking of trying this system then please contact Dave or myself to discuss the pros & cons.

Regards, Mike.

10/11/2011 13:39:17
Is it possible to do a single pole auto launch system (for river sailors with little crews? thanks

10/11/2011 14:31:05
Richard Saunderson
Thanks for that offer. It sounds very interesting. I wonder if a series of annotated photos could be put in the photo section of this website.

10/11/2011 17:18:47
Chris I
We changed to a simple string-launched twin pole system on 3442 'Armed Forces' this summer.
It certainly works for us. As Kathy does not have great shoulder strength, pulling a string is quicker and surer than clipping the pole onto the mast, and does not need you to be so far forwards in the boat.

I think it helped us in the windier days when one or two other tail-enders went for swims at the gybe mark. I'm not saying eeryone should want the system, I wonder if a top crew could be faster with the normal system, at least in some circumstances.

We currently don't have a spiro-type fitting, just a couple of pulleys hung on the front of the mast. This works up to a point, but is not so precise in setting the guy. It's enough for me to know that a twin spiro type fitting is needed for next year (next boat hopefully!).
The commercial fitting I've seen is a hunk of cast or machined aluminium, I'm thinking of making something out of plastics/carbon. Partly because we can, and partly because I don't want the electrolytic corrosion of carbon and ali. And the commercial fitting is over £300 I think.
I don't know what the design copyright situation is though!
I made a simple bracket that fits under the mast step to mount a couple of cam cleats on, it also folds down to form a TackTick bracket. It's just stainless sheet that I had lying around. There are pix of it on photobucket FWIW.
10/11/2011 17:53:40
I will post some images for you all shortly. We do not want to take credit for this system in anyway. We have simply taken ideas from other classes and adapted them to the Merlin. Very happy to share what we have learnt over the last season.



11/11/2011 11:57:59
Chris J
I would LOVE to know if our system can be tweaked and improved.

In the link I have put a document on my SkyDrive that explains our approach.

Enchanted Evening 3666
11/11/2011 12:05:49
Chris J
Further information elsewhere on the forum here:
11/11/2011 12:34:12
Dave Charlton
Hi Chris

The skydrive link seems to miss the ":" after https - even though it appears to be there in your link text!

11/11/2011 12:37:08
Dave Charlton
Ah it doesn't like the https bit 

Does this work?
11/11/2011 14:18:10
Chris J
Am I supposed to understand how HTTPS: works as well as SkyDrive?
That link (without the https) certainly worked for me...
Please: add comments if you need more explanation.
If anyone changes the document (too much) I will delete it - and then the links wont work for anyone else!

11/11/2011 16:24:40
See images on Face book. In 2 installments

Judging by the number of emails on this subject. I will probably put together a Power point together at some point??


11/11/2011 17:30:57
Dave Charlton
Oh full multimedia presentation please! :-)

As I said at Salcombe, watching you gybe down the river compare to Simon and Alex it all looked a lot smoother and faster - and I don't mean that as a criticism of Alex!


12/11/2011 17:08:58
Rod & Jo Sceptical
Do be careful. I had a system like this 25 years ago; it worked well until the pole flying back almost put out my eye. Sure, my eye shouldn't have been there but there are always occasions,- and the scare was enought to make me drop the system.

13/11/2011 21:42:10
Chris J
Which is why on our system we have kept the guide elastics from the end of the boom to half-way up the mast. 
When the pole is released, this pulls the inner end of the pole upwards as the retrieval elastic pulls it back and then guides it down close to the sail / boom.

14/11/2011 22:15:04
Well as Mike pointed out I got a bump on the head whilst trying to get the pole to come off the mast.  Pole retrieval  routine has now been discussed and changed.  Having said that I certainly wouldn't go back to the old stand up, wobble around, sit down etc system now.  I think if more crews had the opportunity to try it out they'd possibly be in favour.  Of course there will always be helms and crews who will resolutely stick to the original system, and of course thats fine what works for one team doesn't necessarily work for another team and for me its all about communication and teamwork in the boat, but we are a development class and I see it as a development which for some people (not all) will hopefully improve their performance.

15/11/2011 01:20:11
Guy Wood
OK? Used that system, allbeit in first stages years ago? And ended up with a broken nose for the second time - first one was playing Rugby - excepted?? It was the re coil effect of the pole on bungee cord V fast and I was midships at the time? Sure this aspect has been fine tuned but Helm/Crew communication quiet important??

15/11/2011 10:38:07
Chris J
Communication -  YES.
Communication as in: I cant get the pole out all the way, have you let the b****y snodger off?
No, and now I am sitting out on the other side and cant reach it.
How do you expect me to get this b****y pole out if you cant do your job?
Hang-on tight! Big gust coming....

OK, gust has gone, boat planing nicely through-out, spiny pulling well, crew sitting down steady in the boat, we can now sort out the last 3 inches of the pole...

15/11/2011 15:30:32
Mike R
Good point about the snodger. In light to medium winds we don't even touch it. Janey isn't the strongest of crews but as long as the snodger isn't bar tight she can set the pole without releasing it. We use it to take up the slack when the pole height has been adjusted and thats it. One less cause for arguments. 
The 'bead bangle' seems to tame a wayward pole quite well and make its route to the end of the boom more predictable. It has 2 other functions as well.
The first is to prevent the old pole from flying out and catching the wrong side of the leeward shroud on a gybe (we have done away with the elastic take ups under the foredeck for the snodgers), the other is to help snatch the pole from the mast fitting and ensure it returns on the correct side of the mast. If you check out Dave's pictures you will see that the elastic from the bangles runs through cringles fixed to the lowers and then down to a turning block at the mast foot then up to the other side. We have whipped the elastic to the lowers just outboard of the 'T' terminal swage and then up to the 'bracelet', this means that our elastic is at maximum stretch when the pole is set and the pole very rarely sticks on the mast when the string is released.
One of the early concerns was that when the pole was deployed it shot out in line with the boom which tended to end up with a backed spinnaker and the pole against the shroud. This has largely been eliminated by putting a bobble on each spinnaker sheet about 16 inches from the tack of the kite and having the ring of the snodger on the kite side of that. This means that the pole now blows forwards on the hoist and you really have to mess it up to get the blown back spinnaker situation. This is the reason that we have removed the snodger take up elastic. All the slack in the system is taken up by the snodger being lead as far forwards as possible without compromising the set of the jib. (This system would also be useful on most boats even without the auto launch system).

15/11/2011 15:51:51
Roy Poole
Used single pole system with Spiro when sailing FDs in the 1990s. Works well enough when you get used to it. Depending on how tight the elastic is it may not always release properly, particularly when the guy is only lightly loaded but the solution is simple. Give the guy a quick yank while releasing the lauching line. Yes you do have to keep your head out of the way but unless you are in the habit of placing your head immediately alongside the boom this shouldn't be a problem. One other point worth mentioning is the mounting for the launching line cleat. This needs to be good and strong. There can be a lot of load applied to it in the heat of the moment.

Looking to get involved with Merlins again (at club level) after many years away. No internet / forum in those days. Great source of information. All I need now is a cheap and cheerful boat to get back into practice again.

16/11/2011 18:47:24
Mike R
Janey has just had a text from Jonny Ratcliffe who made the first bead bracelets. He was disappointed that they have been re-named, originally referred to as 'sex toys' (use your imagination). 

His version is very high-tech being drilled out torlon balls threaded onto stainless wire and then the wire is welded together.

There is not a huge load on these items and a lower-tech version can be made out of stiff copper wire and beads from a fishing tackle shop. Just bend a suitable length of wire into a circle and thread on the beads. Ensure that there is about an 8mm overlap on the wire and bend over 2mm on each end. Adjust the diameter to suit the pole and bind together with thin copper wire. Solder this joint to make it strong.
Use a short length of thin dyneema to tie a prussic knot arround the join in the wire and join the ends leaving a loop just big enough to slip a mini bobble to fit through. This makes rigging and de-rigging the poles easier as the elastic can easily be detached from the poles.

Mike R. 3510.

23/11/2011 22:19:08
Not sure how relevant this is but a chat with Ian Pinnel at P&B might be worthwhile. He's fitted twin launching systems to a couple of FF15's - i think it is a modification of a launching systems used on some 505s. I've used a simple twin launching system for years, albeit on an old NSM 2 - it's not as technically efficient as the clip on poles but keeps Jenny and I yachting for longer!

29/11/2011 14:08:27
Dan Alsop
My wife and I used a home made version of this system in the 80s on an old Smokers and found its biggest benefit was getting the pole reset after a gybe in heavy weather.  This is when the smaller crews can have real difficulty.  Even if the crew has to leave the job unfinished (to balance the boat or avoid a nosedive)the lauch line can be cleated off with the pole most of the way out and the job completed once the panic passes. And I'm glad to say we never sustained any injuries from the poles either!
Dan Alsop

29/11/2011 20:50:03
Andy Hay
Anyone prepared to comment on what additional patch at the pole location might be required for a retro fit of the twin Spiro onto a Chippie twig? If any ...

Will ask Mr Jackson too ...


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