Sailcloth: choice and care


It’s time to change the sails to new? You will meet with a huge, confusing choice of sailcloth.


Many new boats, especially racing, equipped with expensive film sails in which high-durable fibers stacked in a certain direction, and the fibers on both sides are covered with Mylar film. These sails are not drawn at all and extremely well kept predetermined shape. Besides, they are much easier than sails from a Dacron. All this makes them very effective, and the best racing yachts of the world use sails from a Mylar.

Use them very carefully – don’t allow to dangle on a wind, to rub about stanchions or guys and maybe they will sustain three years of regular use before their delaminating begins. As soon as the delaminating (process at which the film is stratified and power fibers separate from it) began, such sail becomes useless. It can’t be repaired, and you again need a new sail. It is very expensive type of yachting, and it is excellent for those who have money.

Membrane sails aren’t suitable for cruise yachts – they too gentle and expensive. Therefore, choosing sailcloth, the owner of the cruise yacht has to turn the look on a Dacron, or more interesting option – a cruise laminate. The Dacron is made by a ​​weaving method of polyester fibers. It differs in high durability and relative low cost. Sailing masters use this fabric from the middle of the 50th years. When the durability becomes a priority, Dacron is your choice.

Dacron Cross-Cut Sail

Dacron Cross-Cut Sail

But the Dacron has also shortcomings. Sails from a Dacron not for long hold the shape set by it. After three or four years of use the profile of a sail becomes much fuller. Often the owners of almost new boats have sails in bad condition. Suppliers of boats equip them with sails with fabric of the smaller weight (density) to save on the weight and the price. Therefore they order lighter sail cloth demanding more hardening impregnation, that holding the sail shape. When impregnation wears out, the sail becomes soft and gets out of a shape.

Cruise laminate

Cruise laminate is not a new type of sailcloth. It was first used in 1977 for the boats on the America’s Cup races. Unlike film Mylar sail where the thread is laid in the direction of load , here they lie along and across the web in a grid. These are the threads from polyester (Dacron) laid on a film and which are rolled up between two layers of a thin Dacron.

Carbon GPL sails

Dimension Polyant manufacture the Carbon GPL laminated sailcloth. These graphics are extracted from the Dimension Polyant GPL brochure featuring Saskia, the 2007 8 m world champion, flying Carbon GPL sails designed and made by Ian Short Sails

In the more expensive laminates used strands of hi-tech materials such as Pentex (PEN) or other – Dyneema, Tawron. Like membrane sailing fabric, the cruise laminate weighs a little, keep their shape much longer and better than a simple Dacron and the film protects a laminate from physical impacts, prolonging his life. But if the delamination began, they, as well as film sails, can’t be qualitatively repaired. Service life of such sails depends on accuracy and intensity of their use. Five seasons is usual norm for them. One of advantages of such sailing fabric is that it can be put as a usual Dacron while the Mylar can only be turned in a pipe, otherwise the delamination on folds occurs quickly. The aerodynamic quality of the work of the cruise laminate sails close to the film sails. There is also other type of sailing fabric in which high-molecular inextensible Dynema or Spectra fibers are interwoven into a usual Dacron by directly weaving loom. There these threads also settle down in the form of sections. Except prevention of stretching of sailcloth, they also serve as rip-stop – don’t allow fabric to be torn further if it was damaged in any place.

What sails are necessary to you?

If you’re a club racer and your goal is to be in the first third of the fleet, your choice – Cruise laminate. If you want to be in the top three, think about the film sails. For cruisers ordinary Dacron is a good choice. If you have a heavy cruising yacht , the savings on the difference in weight is insignificant sails , although fresh wind laminate sails, because remain flat, allow to keep closer to the wind and the boat heels less in squalls and gusts. The cruise laminate is more preferable to easy yachts or catamarans. It significantly accelerates their speed, and reduces the weight of the top, which is beneficial to the stability of the vessel. Sails of a cross cut, are good for grottoes of all cruise yachts, especially if sails of small lengthening but if boat length more than 45 foots, is necessary the oriented-reinforced sailcloth as loadings on big sails are great.

Few words about caring for sails

Regardless ofthe material from whichmadethe sails,they should be treatedwith care.Sails are exposed to considerable destructive loadings under the influence of a strong wind. Try to reduce time of such impact on them. Adjust sails correctly, do not let the after-leech rope flutter,pulling thebowlineintime. Do not let the sail rub on stanchions, guys,cross-pieces and other equipment on the deck. Sew protective slip on a sail in places where it concerns such objects. Examine a mast: whether there are there protruding sharp parts by which passes a sail at the time of turn. Remove such objects or put protection. It is necessary to protect a guard railing by a polyvinyl chloride tube.

The sail can be stretched more than the required size, if too strongly to pull it winches. If you leave the sail furling after swimming in a strong wind when foot leech stretches stronger, do not forget to weaker halyard.

The Dacron and other sailing fabrics are exposed to adverse effect of ultra-violet radiation. Always protect a grotto by a cover on the geek. Make sure that your furling Genoa evade tight, and there is no gap between the bands of UV protective strip. If you leave Genoa furling more than a day, it is better to apply a protective cover.

It is necessary to carry sail to the sailmaker at the end of each season for cleaning and repairs. All this will prolong the life of your sails.

2 Responses to Sailcloth: choice and care

  1. Gertude Ackland says:

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