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Control Lines

Control lines for sailboat vangs, cunninghams, outhauls, and more.

Sailboat Control Lines

West Coast Sailing offer a wide selection of control lines for small sailboat vangs, cunninghams, outhauls, and more. These lines are low stretch, durable, and hold up well in cleats. Check our best selling options like Robline Dinghy Control and Marlow Excel Racing for performance applications or Sirius 500 for light duty or recreational use. Diameters between 2 mm and 8 mm available in a variety of colors.

Control Line Recommendations

Dinghy / Small Boat Recreational

 4mm / 5mm Robline Sirius 500 

Dinghy / Small Boat Performance  

 2mm / 3mm / 4mm / 5mm Robline Dinghy Control   

 4mm / 5mm Marlow Excel Racing

Keelboat / Cruising Recreational   

 6mm Marlow DoubleBraid     

Keelboat / Cruising Performance   

 6mm Robline Dinghy Control Line   

 

Finding The Right Diameter

If you are replacing an existing line, the easiest way to determine what diameter you need is to match what you already have. This can be done with a caliper or by close estimation with a tape measure. If you've previously used a 5mm control line and it has performed well, another 5mm line is likely a great choice. In most applications, there is some flexibility in the exact diameter that can be used. Most blocks, for example, have an 'ideal' diameter (ie, the line diameter that runs most effectively though the block's sheave) but also have a range so that you can run a slightly thinner or slightly thicker line. If you have a control line that is getting hung up in your rig, stepping down 1-2mm might help the halyard run more efficiently. If you have a larger boat or rig and want to run a thinner control line , consider a double braid high tech line that features a Dyneema or spectra core for strength.

Line Diameter Conversion

1mm = 3/64 inch | 2mm = 5/64 inch | 3mm = 1/8 inch

4mm = 5/32 inch | 5mm = 3/16 inch | 6mm = 1/4 inch

7mm = 9/32 inch | 8mm = 5/16 inch | 9mm = 3/8 inch

10mm = 25/64 in | 11mm = 7/16 in  | 12mm = 1/2 in

Double Braid vs Single Braid

Two terms you will often see in line descriptions are 'double braid' and 'single braid', which refer to the way the line is constructed. At the most basic level, a double braid line has a cover and a core whereas a single braid does not, but there are other important distinctions to consider when making a line selection.

Single Braids are made up of either 8 or 12 strands that are braided into a circular pattern, half clockwise and half counter clockwise. This produces a line that is supple, absorbs twists, and tends not to kink. There are two types of single braid lines: performance single braids and polyester/blended single braids. Performance single braids are made from fibers with very low stretch and designed to handle extreme loads - think Dyneema, Spectra, or Vectran. Polyester/blended single braids, sometimes called hollow braid, are soft and easy to grip, built for sheets and hand-adjusted control lines. These are less common than performance single braid lines but recommended in a few specific applications.

Double Braids, sometimes called braid on braid, have a braided core within a braided outer jacket or cover. This creates a strong, durable, smooth-running line that is easy to handle. Double braids are used for the vast majority of all running rigging on sailboats including sheets, halyards and control lines for both cruising or racing. There are two types to consider: polyester double braids and high-tech double braids. Polyester double braids, found most commonly on recreational and cruising sailboats, have a polyester cover with polyester core. These are low maintenance, affordable, and long-lasting, while offering relatively low stretch and high working loads. For additional strength and minimal stretch, consider high-tech double braids. These lines typically feature a Dyneema or Spectra core (non-stretch) inside a polyester or polyester/dyneema blend cover for additional durability. They are more expensive but often the go to choice for high performance racing boats.

For control lines, we typically recommend Double Braids, particularly for the portion which is either cleated or is handled by the sailor. If you control line system requires a 'secondary' line (such as on a Laser vang, for example), a single braid high tech line such as Dyneema or Spectra is appropriate.

Whipping & Splicing

Looking to clean up the end of your line or need to add a splice to your rig? Visit our Whipping & Splicing page for a full selection of whipping twine, fids, splicing needles, and complete splicing kits. Perfect for the DIY sailor looking to further optimize their rigging.