Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Hands On: Yale Ph. D. Line

Brand new this fall from Yale Cordage is their Ph.D. line. That's right APS now has a doctorate from Yale and we're going to brag about it to everybody. Ok I promise not to make too many more doctor jokes.

With Ph.D. Yale is taking a totally new approach to line manufacturing. They're not fully reinventing the wheel but they've definitely figured out how to put spinners on it. This line is a 12-strand construction much like Maffioli Swiftcord or Yale Conception. Like those lines it is a blended Spectra line, in this case it is Spectra 1000 and polyester. Where Ph.D. differs is how they are blended together.

As you can see in the photo to the left each of the 24 strands in Ph.D. (it's a paired 12-strand) has a parallel Spectra 1000 core with the polyester fibers wrapped around it. The polyester is also treated with Yale's i-Grip to give it tenacious grip.

The result is a line that has a great hand feel and a very high Spectra content for it's size. We don't have hard numbers but we think this line has significantly more Spectra than the Swiftcord, Salsa or other Dyneema blended single braids.

The Ph.D. does tend to be a little bit oversized when it's not loaded so if your application is very size sensitive you should be careful in your selection.

We had some of our staff use the Ph.D. line on a couple different boats to get some first hand experience. Warren from customer service tried it out as jib sheets on his keelboat:
I recently got a chance to use Yale’s new Ph.D. line in 7/16" as a genoa sheet on my family’s Soverel 33 with our 150% Kevlar Genoa and plain top winches. I was pleased with Ph.D’s grip on the winch, given we have what I believe to be the original 1986 winches with most (nearly all) of the grip worn off. The fuzzy surface provided additional grip when an additional wrap would have been excessive. I feel this line will work well on small keelboats in moderate load applications when you want to use as few wraps as possible, but still need good control (think jib sheets on J24, Ensign, J80, J22). Given the amount of breeze and load generated by the genoa we were likely at the limit of what I would recommend using the line in terms of both load and abrasion. All in all Ph.D. is a great new line that both soft on the hands and much lower stretch than many other 12 strands on the market today.
Katie used the Ph.D. sailing on a Jet14 with me this past weekend. As a dinghy this application is a bit different than Warren's experience using winches. Here's what Katie thought:
This weekend, I used the Ph.D. 6mm for jib sheets on a Jet 14. It was blowing around 15, which make for a good opportunity to test out the grip and hand feel. I found that it was quite easy to hold on to as well as release from the cleat. It ran easily during tacks and came back in well. It didn’t seem to absorb water, or not enough that I could notice it becoming heavier throughout the day. Overall, I think that it would work well in this application as well as any other dinghy. With a secure, nice feeling grip and running freely in and out of blocks, there is not much more you could ask for in a sheet. I would certainly give it my thumbs up.

One of the stand out features of the Ph.D. is it's low stretch. Above is a chart provided by Yale for elongation comparison with both a 100% Spectra line and Yale's Conception. Warren was impressed by this aspect of the Ph.D. as well:
I was very pleasantly surprised with the minimal stretch of the line, so let me explain. While comfortable to handle, all too often single braids either don’t have enough Spectra in the blend of the line, or have a great deal of constructional stretch, not so with the Ph. D. The very high percentage of Spectra in this line, coupled with the spun construction, and the high grade of Spectra in the line (Spectra 1000 which = Dyneema SK-75) kept the stretch to a minimum.

All in all Yale's Ph.D. line is a great addition to the options in the blended single braid market. It offers a high Spectra content for low stretch and has a great hand feel. The doctor is definitely in and the prescription for this fever is more Ph.D.!

Update (10/08/10): Yale formally announced this new product at the 2010 Annapolis Sailboat Show. APS Staff were on hand and filmed their press conference for you. Here is...

Ron Rosenberg introducing Yale PHD (part 1)
Tom Yale discussing Yale PHD's unique construction (part 2)


  1. It's very surprising to hear cordage that uses "doctoral degree" as a brand name. Interesting. What's even surprising is the way its strength is described - clear and understandable.

  2. Thank you for all your information! My dad works in a shipping company, and he would be surprised to know that I have a little knowledge about these!