Exploring Cam Cleats – Part 2: Essential Accessories for Cam Cleats
Author: Allen Brothers Date Posted:6 October 2023
Check out part 2 of a new series by Allen on Cam Cleats titled: Exploring Cam Cleats
Part 2: Essential Accessories for Cam Cleats
Welcome back to the next instalment of our blog series, where we dive deeper into the world of cam cleats and unveil the essential accessories that elevate their performance. In Part 1, we explored the fundamentals of cam cleats and the different types.
Now, it’s time to shift our focus to the accessories that enhance the capabilities of these versatile tools. Just as a skilled sailor relies on the right equipment to navigate the seas, a seamless sailing experience hinges on the proper tools to complement and optimise cam cleat functionality.
From fairleads and bullseyes to swivel bases and beyond, Part 2 takes you on a journey through the indispensable tools that guide ropes and ensure precise control.
So, join us as we unlock the secrets of these essential accessories and provide insights into their applications. Whether you’re a seasoned sailor or just starting to explore the world of cam cleats, Part 2 will equip you with the knowledge to make informed choices, ensuring that your sailboat’s performance reaches its full potential.
Fairleads and Bullseyes
A fairlead or bullseye is a device designed to guide ropes and lines as they transition from one direction to another. They are typically placed along a sailboat’s deck, mast, or other structural elements to create optimal angles for rope entry into cam cleats.
A fairlead is more often the name given to a larger aluminium loop, commonly seen on decks of keelboats and yachts. Whereas a bullseye would often be used to describe an acetal (plastic) alternative on a smaller dinghy. At Allen, we just call them fairleads and offer them in aluminium or plastic variations.
Aluminium fairleads are better suited to faster running and higher loading applications.
Plastic fairleads are more suitable for lower-loaded applications which run smaller lines.
View the Allen range of fairleads
Cam Cleat Wedges and Lifters
Wedges are precisely shaped pieces made from acetal. They are strategically placed beneath cam cleats to create a specific angle between the cleat and the deck. By altering the angle of the cleat, wedges optimise the alignment of ropes as they enter the cleat’s jaws.
Wedges ensure that ropes align seamlessly with the cam cleat, reducing friction and wear. Proper alignment prevents unnecessary stress on the rope fibres and extends their lifespan.
The correct angle between the rope and the cleat enhances the grip of the cam cleat, improving its ability to hold the line securely under tension. This is particularly valuable during high-load scenarios.
Pro-leads are an acetal cage designed to fit specifically around our cam cleats. This accessory is ideal for applications which can often have the line pulled off centre of the cam cleat. The acetal cage keeps the rope running centrally through the cam jaws, allowing the sailor to still cleat the rope even if pulling from a harsh angle.
Available with a wire opening (Mega Pro-Lead) which reduces the wear around the opening of the fairlead for applications which are constantly adjusted at off-centre angles.
The over fairlead is a nylon fitting that fits directly onto the top of the cam cleat. The over fairlead is specifically for stopping the rope from leaving the cam cleat and is best used for applications where high precision cleating from a distance is not required.
This little wire fairlead fits onto the leading side of the cam cleat, clipping into the bottom and sitting flush with the mounting surface. The wire under-fairlead is designed to accomplish one main objective; guiding rope into the cam cleat. Especially useful in applications where the rope coming into the cam cleat is higher than the cam cleat itself or when the lead for the rope is off-centre. These are typically used in lower load applications when a standard fairlead or bullseye takes up too much space or can't be mounted near the cleat.
View the range of Allen Cam Cleat Accessories
Swivel bases are mountable platforms designed to hold cam cleats, enabling them to rotate freely in a full circle. This innovative design allows sailors to make sail adjustments from virtually any angle. Swivel bases are ideal for confined spaces or when the sailor might be changing position when they need to adjust the rope in this cleat.
We offer a variety of swivel bases to suit a vast array of applications. Things to consider when choosing a swivel base include:
Ball bearing or plain bearing base
The ball bearing option is recommended for any high-performance application which requires minimal friction as well as quick and smooth rotation. Plain-bearing swivel bases would be more suited towards higher loading applications or when trying to save budget.
Swivel base fairlead
Typically a bullseye is used on a swivel base to guide rope into the cam cleat. However, we also offer a version with ball-bearing sheaves. These reduce friction and give maximum feel on the line when being used, ideal for jib control systems.
Angled swivel bases
Swivel bases are available with either a flat or bent plate to angle the cam cleat upwards. Consider what angle you will be pulling the line from before you choose.
In this series, we have explored the world of cam cleat accessories and their main roles and functions. You should now be well equipped with the knowledge of why each accessory exists and the important job it undertakes. So, join us in Part 3: Practical Applications of Cam Cleats next week to see how pairing these vital accessories with cam cleats leads to versatile control and performance on a sailboat.