Best Sailing Boat Blocks in 2021

Published Date: August 13 2021

Sailboat Mastbase blocks

 

In this blog we take a quick look at what is new and/or interesting in the sailing block world in 2021.

 

Harken Fly Blocks
Harken continue to develop soft attach blocks. Their latest Fly blocks (currently available in 18, 29 and 40mm sheave diameters) are designed to have high strength to weight ratios, providing plenty of power but in a low-aero package. The 29 and 40mm versions feature a titanium sheave, stainless steel ball bearings and composite fiber-reinforced side plates. They are ideal for use on foiling dinghies, sports boats and for vang cascades and backstay systems on larger boats.

Harken Fly BlockMorfblocks with Beckets
Following the early success of their radical, super-lightweight Morfblock range, Morfrac Systems are developing their product line to include Becket versions of their blocks. Staying true to their design philosophy, the becket is achieved by using an additional Dyneema® strop which goes onto the same attachment point as the block itself. This avoids any unnecessary weak links and creates a simple, reliable and extremely strong becket, whilst adding very little weight.

Morfblock with becket
Karver KRO Open Rings
This is a nice little innovation to highlight! Karver have taken the friction ring one step further by cutting a hole in the side to allow it to be added onto an already loaded line – This is similar in concept to a snatch block but without the complication of moving parts. Originally developed as a fairlead for continuous furling lines, it is a simple, lightweight and very reliable piece of kit that could be used in a multitude of applications.


Karver KRO Open Ring
Allen Ti3 on Block
Allen Brothers, based on the East coast of the UK, is a well-established, specialist dinghy hardware manufacturer. They do literally everything onsite – from design to prototyping to mould making, milling, turning and assembly etc. and they are constantly making incremental improvements to their blocks.

 

Allen a2020ti3

 

They have just updated their extremely popular 20mm tie on blocks to create the A2020Ti3. This development came from the high-performance paragliding market which demanded a more optimised shape for use with a thin webbing strap attachment. However in testing, Allen realised that the new shape was easier to work with, regardless of the type of soft attachment, and performed extremely well. They have three versions: plain bearing, standard dynamic ball bearing plus a high load version with a stainless sheave.

 

In the image below it is fairly clear the evolutionary path they have taken

Allen 2020 Evolution

 

Lewmar HTX
Lewmar is another company with a long track record in the industry and a reputation for reliable quality. They have years of after-sales experience to draw on to make incremental improvements to their core block ranges which are the go-to product for many OEM manufacturers. Lewmar are in no way the cheapest products on the market but the reason OEM manufacturers use them is that they are very consistent and reliable, which means no warranty claims!!

Lewmar HTX Block

Their Core HTX block range is an evolution of their previous racing line and relies on simple construction using high quality materials to further enhance reliability for frequently adjusted, highly loaded systems. The blocks have aluminium side cheeks, a central plain bearing with side thrust Delrin® ball bearings and a grub screw swivel head locking system.

 

Ronstan Soft Attach Snatch blocks
Ronstan are also developing their range of soft attach blocks. They have just introduced a nice small range of soft attach snatch blocks in 42, 60 and 75mm sheave diameters. With a soft Dyneema® loop and a titanium dogbone (available as a replacement part), these soft snatch blocks are quick and easy to attach and release, even after being under high loads. Often used as temporary sheet leads, the soft attachment of these snatch blocks significantly reduces wear, damage and irritating noise on the deck.


Ronstan Soft Attach Snatch Block
Antal Snatch Looper
Antal have their own soft loop snatch block. This Snatch Looper has been particularly designed for 2:1 mainsail halyards, with a small sheave diameter relative to the working load and available in 46mm and 54mm sheaves.

 

Antal Snatch Looper - LS046

 

Antal OPF (One Piece Frame)

However, their core block range is called the OPF Series which stands for One Piece Frame. Antal have developed a reputation for well-priced, well designed, quality hardware which reliably “gets the job done”! They have identified rivets, screws and bolts as weak points in block designs and have built their range around one piece, CNC machined aluminium, hard anodised and Teflon coated bodies to provide a rigid, reliable platform. Antal have developed a complete range, around these simple chassis, including single, double and triple sheaves with fiddle/becket options and various cam cleat accessories.

Antal OPF Web Attach BlockUbi Maior
Continuing with snatch blocks, Ubi Maior’s top-of-the-range soft attach X3M series is also available in a snatch block option. Available in sheave diameters from 32mm to 120mm with Safe Working Loads (SWL) from 1500 kg to 15000 kg, if you are after a performance snatch block – look no further!

Ubi Maior X3M-SO Snatch Block

 

Just for interest, below is a comparison between the x3 snatch blocks featured above:

 

  Antal   Ronstan   Ubi Maior
  Snatch Looper   Soft attach Blocks   X3M Snatch Block
Sheave (mm) 46 9,5% 42 9,5% 46
SWL (kg) 2200 10,0% 2000 50,0% 3000
Weight (g) 230 39,4% 165 -6,1% 155
Price 0,9 -10,0% 1 25,0% 1,25

 

The % variations (in blue) are assuming we take the Ronstan block as a benchmark

  • Antal and Ubi Maior have 9,5% bigger sheaves which naturally delivers a higher working load
  • Antal achieves a 10% working load increase and a 10% price reduction relative to the Ronstan, but the compromise is a significant (39,4%) weight increase
  • Ubi Maior achieves a massive 50% bigger working load together with an impressive 6,1% weight saving. However, the natural "quid pro quo" is a 25% price increase over the Ronstan block
  • Ronstan deliver a very small, compact and lightweight block for the working load

    Summary
    The main trend in 2021 continues to be a move towards more soft attachment options together with continuous improvement and optimisation of manufacturers' core ranges. Advances in design tools, plus application of new manufacturing technologies and improved material selection are delivering small but significant advances in quality, reliability and performance, year on year.

    If you have any questions about selecting the right block for your needs, please contact us at support@upffront.com or click the link below to browse our range of blocks on the website:
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    We are constantly reporting on the latest innovations in the marine industry which offer weight savings whilst, at the same time, increasing safety factors. The result: lighter, faster, safer and more exciting sailing.


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