– by Michael Beckett Team GBR Laser sailor
“I have spent years alternating between the Marlow Excel Fusion and the Rooster Polilite® mainsheets. Both are very high performing 6mm ropes to have as a mainsheet. Let me explain my thoughts on each, and hopefully this article will help you understand the relative merits of these two mainsheets.
Because of the different fibres/construction used in each rope, they feel and wear differently.
The Marlow is a relatively hard rope, and as a result can be a little stiff, however it is a quick running rope and is actually very light when dried out. The Marlow is definitely higher maintenance of the two, and it’s a really bad idea to let the rope dry out with saltwater, it becomes immensely stiff, so make sure you wash it after sailing. The rope lasts well, better than the Rooster in my experience, but is more expensive.
Onto the Rooster which is a very good value rope, so it won’t put a massive dent in your wallet. It has a softer feel, and very consistent in diameter across the fibres – unlike the Marlow which is ever so slightly lumpy. The Rooster rope is relatively low maintenance and doesn’t seem to be too bad if you don’t wash it.
Although both mainsheets are virtually identical in diameter, the Rooster mainsheet will wear though faster than the Marlow and reach the point where the Rooster rope becomes ‘fluffy’, shortly after which the outer braid will snap, this can happen especially quickly if your ratchet block has sharp teeth!
Finally, onto the real enigmatic question, which mainsheet is going to get in a tangle at the windward mark? The biggest issue with the Rooster is what I would call its ‘invisible memory’. Should you get a knot in it, which loads up as you’re trying to yank it undone and the tangle then locks up, the rope will very easily kink and tangle in the same spot day after day, which can be a bit of a nightmare. With the Marlow rope if this ever happened I would run the entire length through my hands to squeeze out all the kinks, and it would forget that the tangle ever happened, however the Rooster doesn’t seem very good at forgetting despite the same treatment. I have changed a Rooster mainsheet halfway through a championship for this reason alone, however given the relatively low cost of the rope, this is affordable. So, I would rate Marlow Excel Fusion slightly better than Rooster Polilite® for its tangle-resistance.
My honest recommendation is to try both ropes, it is a subjective matter with no magic bullet. It may seem unnecessary to buy two mainsheets at once, but it will be twice as long until either need replacing so in reality it might a smart move!”
Our thanks to Southeast Sailboats sponsored sailor Michael Becket for this great and insightful article. Southeast Sailboats sells both of the above mainsheets – see our mainsheets page.