Swiss-based Carbo-Link has long been one of the quiet giants of high performance sailing… It is only now, many years after they rigged their first America’s Cup winner for Alinghi that word is getting out at last.

What do Ariane’s space rockets, Porsche’s racing cars, Liebherr’s largest industrial cranes and some of the world’s most technically advanced suspension bridges have in common with Ultime Trimarans, Maxi 72s and most of the recent contenders in the America’s Cup?They all rely on cutting-edge composite solutions from Carbo-link to solve extremely complex structural engineering challenges and gain a competitive advantage.

Carbo-Link’s roots are in hi-tech civil and industrial engineering – the company is a spin-off from the highly regarded Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology (EMPA) – but while it remains a world leader in these fields, working on large-scale infrastructure projects, its technology has migrated into other industries including aerospace, motor sport and high-performance sailing. Since the turn of the millennium, a major focus for Carbo-Link’s innovation has been the development and refinement of new, often groundbreaking, rigging solutions for high-performance racing and superyachts.

Economy of scale

Carbo-link actively searches for technology transfer between its marine, aerospace, construction, industrial and motorsport divisions, creating an economy of scale.

‘We’re an innovation company first,’ says James Wilkinson, Carbo-Link’s business development manager. ‘Our research and development spans various industries over more than 15 years. The yacht racing industry is a major beneficiary of this research and development investment.’

We tend to assume that high-performance sailing is at the forefront of technological innovation, but that’s not always the case. The durability of Carbo-Link’s cables, for instance, is well proven in applications that reach far beyond the demands of sailing. The marine classification society DNV GL

(formerly Germanischer Lloyd) expects yacht rigging to withstand at least 100,000 load cycles, but Carbo-Link has developed cables that can operate safely at more than 18 million load cycles to meet the far more rigorous requirements of large-scale civil engineering projects. On a slightly smaller scale, its pendants for Liebherr cranes routinely handle three million load cycles. In theory at least, one set of solid carbon rigging cables can literally last a lifetime.


Read more on the Seahorse website.

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James Wilkinson