0item in your cart

Genoa Lead Q&A

A good genoa lead system allows you to change the sheeting angle of your sail so that it has optimal shape, improving speed and efficiency. Harken's ball bearing cars allow for easy adjustment of loaded sails from the cockpit.

General Information

How do I size my genoa car? 
Genoa car size is determined by sail area and sheet load. Visit these resources to help configure your system:
Genoa Lead System Size Selection for lead car size range for the #1, #2, and #3 genoa based on typical sail area.
Block Loading vs Angle of Deflection and Genoa System Loading to size for different deflection angles and wind speeds.
Genoa Lead Car Systems for common genoa lead configurations.

Contact Harken Tech Service at technicalservice@harken.com with additional questions.

Why should I use ball bearing genoa leads over pinstop type leads?
Pinstop leads can only be adjusted on the unloaded side of the boat which means you can't adjust the genoa unless you tack.

If you are a cruiser, ball bearing adjustable genoa lead cars with multipart purchases allow you to easily adjust loaded headsail leads from the cockpit. If you race, ball bearing genoa leads let you quickly change the sheeting angle, adjusting the twist to optimize sail shape. 

A ball bearing system lets you:
1. Take advantage of changing wind and sea conditions to immediately adjust sail shape and keep the boat moving fast.

2. Coming out of a tack, adjustable genoa leads allow the trimmer to ease the car to power up the boat, then gradually pull it aft to the correct adjustment for optimal sail shape and speed.

3. Allows you to work with the crew to help trim up the boat when the helm is overpowered.

I have old-style Harken non-CB track and want to upgrade to a CB+ traveler car. Do I have to replace my old track?
=No. CB+ cars can be modified to run on old-style non-CB Harken track (supplied until 2002). To retrofit, remove the car retainer clip, remove the ball-routing corners, and then use a ball loader to replace the bearings and transfer the car onto non-CB track. Now you can use all the configurations available for modern CB systems including genoa lead cars with black racing-style sideplates and soft attachments. Look for a + sign at the end of the car to confirm it is a CB+ car.

What happens if I force a Harken CB-only car (not CB+) onto a non-CB track?
A CB-only car won't roll on non-CB track and can damage your equipment. The balls skid instead of roll and will soon flatten out.

How do I take my classic non-CB traveler car off the track without losing the balls?
To prevent the balls from spilling out, use the blue car loader that came with the car. If misplaced, contact Technical or Customer Service and we'll send you a car loader as soon as possible. You can determine if you need a Small Boat, Midrange, or Big Boat loader by measuring the width of the track across the top; Small Boat is 22 mm (7/8"), Midrange is 27 mm  (1 1/16"), and Big Boat is 32 mm (1 1/4") wide.

What should be the maximum working load (MWL) of the parts I choose?
To maintain a high safety factor, the genoa car's specified maximum working load must be greater than the maximum load you expect to experience. The car will be under considerable load when you move it in a strong breeze, which is when you really need the car to work well, so many sailors prefer to use a higher load car than what is absolutely necessary. Use the Genoa System Loading Calculators to determine your working loads.

How high are the loads in my genoa system?
Use the Genoa System Loading Calculator to determine the loads on your boat.The typical control line load you need to pull is about 30% of the lead car load when the car deflects the line 45° and 50% when deflected 60°.

How do modular CB genoa leads help me?
The 22 mm, 27 mm, and 32 mm cars and end controls come in up to 4:1 purchases, allowing you to choose or change your traveler's mechanical advantage. If you want to increase purchase, a Harken conversion kit contains everything you need to make that adjustment yourself.

Ball Bearing Track & T-Track

I don't want the hassle or expense of replacing my existing 32 mm T-Track. Will a Harken car fit?
Yes, we have developed the GT326S genoa lead car for this purpose. The car fits all 32 mm and 1-1/4 in T-Track including Antal, Ronstan, Schaefer, and Pfeiffer. We include plastic inserts in three sizes with the GT326S to ensure a correct fit. Note: T-Track genoa lead cars cannot be adjusted under load.

Can I put a ball bearing car on my T-Track?
No, ball bearings require special track to allow recirculation.

Controls & Purchase

How do I adjust my trim angle to improve boat speed?
Your genoa car can be adjusted so the trim angle bisects luff length. This improves boat speed and vastly prolongs sail life by reducing leech flutter.

What role does friction play in traveler systems?
1. If you don't use a car and traveler control line blocks with free-rolling ball bearing sheaves or very low-friction bushings, you will need more purchase to overcome friction.

2. Using a line diameter that is too large for the sheave also causes friction and decreases effective purchase.

3. A poor lead to the cockpit, such as one that fouls on a cam cleat, runs between two sheaves, or chafes against the traveler beam or other hardware, will add unnecessary friction. Check for these problems before buying a bigger block for a higher mechanical purchase.

What size line should I use for my traveler controls?
Small-diameter lines create the least friction, while large-diameter lines are easier to handle. You'll want the largest diameter line the sheave is designed to accommodate. Check your block's max line diameter (Ø) specifications on the Harken website.


How do I clean and maintain my cars and track?
Flushing your cars and track frequently with fresh water helps keep them in working order. Occasionally squirt a detergent and water solution into the car's center openings and roll the car back and forth to distribute evenly. Then flush the detergent out with fresh water. This maintenance is very important, particularly when the cars haven't been in use.

Frequently inspect shackles and control block fittings for signs of fatigue. Make sure every installation includes Harken track endstops and arrange the control tackle so cars do not hit endstops under load.

Be aware that using some teak cleaners and other caustic solutions can result in discoloration that is not covered under the Harken warranty. See the Harken catalog for full maintenance and warranty information.

Slider Cars
Use spray lubricants like McLube SailKote spray lubricant only on slider cars and slider track. Do not use with ball bearing cars.

CB & CB+ Cars
Do not use spray lubricant because it will make ball bearings and ball bearing track so slippery that the balls will skid instead of roll. Use McLube OneDrop lubricant and conditioner on traveler track to repel salt and dirt so ball bearing cars roll more smoothly.

McLube is a registered trademark of McGee® Industries.

Sailkote is a trademark of McLube® a division of McGee Industries.

Loading calculators, spec charts, and other basic information is available in the Product Support section. Installing a new traveler system is a big project. Don't hesitate to contact Harken Technical Service to make sure you're on the right track.

Genoa Lead Car Systems
Sail Magazine article: On the Right Track (Upgrading Genoa Leads)
McLube OneDrop