Composite Backstays: Your Quick Fix for Maximum Performance

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.

Composite Backstays on Scandinavia 35 © Ronstan

Image Credit: Ronstan

Previously on our blog, we introduced our range of new Kohlhoff composite backstays, manufactured from Gottifredi Maffioli’s lightweight – but incredibly strong – Ultrawire.

Since then, we’ve increased our product offering even further, and added a high-performance range of Armare Ropes backstays to our standing rigging. Following this addition, we have decided to take another look at the ins and outs of composite backstays, and the benefits they provide.


The backstay is an essential component of the standing rigging on nearly all modern sailing yachts. It is not just there to keep the rig upright, but is also our primary control for adjusting the rig while sailing.


A properly designed and adjustable backstay system is key to sailing fast and safely through changing weather conditions. Switching from a wire or rod backstay to a composite backstay or runner is also one of the simplest ways of achieving a quick performance upgrade. Lighter, stronger, kinder and safer, composite backstays have tonnes of benefits – more information in our previous blog here.


What are my options?

Kohlhoff Range:


Compsosit Backstays © WR Melges 32 ArgoThe perfect small boat solution, the Kohlhoff Ultrawire Backstay range is the ideal balance of quality, performance and cost.


Produced from Gottifredi Maffiloli’s Ultrawire - which has a high performance SK99 core and a tightly braided Dyneema cover - it has superb resistance, and a long lifespan. They are made to your custom length requirements by cutting the material off the roll and splicing both ends by professional riggers.


Their size limitation is due to the material (braided core) and the fact that their strength is dependent on the spliced ends. There is a natural cross-over to a more bespoke, custom composite cable for boats at around 40-45ft


For this Ultrawire range, we are offering finished cables (8m - 21m) in standardised metre increments.


Armare Ropes Range:


Our new Armare Ropes Backstay range is suitable for boats 45ft+ and available in three different core materials:

  • K49 - The 'value' composite solution: very stiff, but slightly heavier and bigger diameter. A solid cruising product.
  • SK99 - Mid-way in terms of overall performance and price.
  • PBO - The ultimate low weight and windage solution, but with the highest price.

All Armare backstays are wound from a single fibre tow around two end fittings, to form a unidirectional composite cable. Each cable is custom made in the factory to very high length tolerances and build quality.


The complete Armare range is available on the website (from 12m - 25m, in all three core materials) in standardised half metre increments, however your cable will be finished in the factory to your exact length requirements.


To summarise, composite backstays:

  • Offer a significant weight reduction
  • Increase sailing performance
  • Are a quick and simple changeout
  • Are stronger and safer
  • Are kinder to the leach of your mainsail
  • Offer various solutions with a balance between safety, quality and price

Think composite backstays are a no-brainer? Explore our full range here, or get in touch with us at support@upffront.comfor further advice and help.

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