Razzmatazz, like most or maybe all fractionally-rigged cats, has a fully-battened main. The benefits of full battens are that the sail always has a good aerodynamic shape, and that it can support a massive roach. The downside is that the compression force where the battens push on the cars that run up the mast can have so much friction that raising and lowering the main is difficult unless the boat is heading straight into the wind. Normally this is simply inconvenient; but when you want to take in a reef in a sudden squawl, it can be dangerous.
Razzmatazz had Bainbridge Sailman4000 cars. These provided excessive friction and, as an added bonus, broke quite often. So we decided to use a system with ball bearings, and got a quote for Ronstan Ballslide Trackless Batten Cars. When we'd picked ourselves up, we realised that we'd only need half the cars they quoted for. These expensive roller cars are designed to deal with a compression force - the balls are between the car body and the aft face of the mast. However, the headboard and intermediate (ie beween the battens) cars are in tension, and the balls would never come into play.
For the headboard, which has to handle a pretty massive pull away from the mast, we'd already ditched the broken Bainbridge cars and replaced them with aluminium slugs, and we decided to stick with these as their strength seemed an overriding virtue. For the intermediates, I made up some roller slugs from miniature roller bearings and sheet polycarbonate. There are spacer washers between the bearings and the plastic slug, and the bearings are fixed with a pop rivet. An important merit of these slides is that they are short - 20mm - so help to keep the furled stack height within reason.
The pictures show the new setup.
|Ronstan Ballside plan diagram||My new intermediate slide||Showing batten and intermediate slide (from Ronstan site - own picture coming)|