Join Date: Mar 2008
Location: Norwalk, CT
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Another new sail question/rant
For those who have been told that a dacron sail will loose it's shape in a year, and a laminate sail needs to be replaced in 3, please don't abandon the sport yet!
On my 35' sailboat, I'm still using a tri-radial paneled mainsail (laminate with twaron fibers) that has lasted for more that ten years. I know most performance conscious sailors would not expect to keep a sail this long. The actual shape, has only degraded slowly. It was over built so, probably, on the heavy side, but not lightly used.
I expect that the next time I hoist it, every thread, fiber, and molecule of glue will let go all at once. But it held up amazingly well and I wish I had bought out the complete lot of sailcloth from which it was made.
2 years ago I bought a genoa constructed using continuous (corner to corner kevlar fibers. ) I don't wish to bad mouth any sailmaker so I won't mention the brand, of which there are many pushing this type of sail now.
The whole thing began to come apart (delaminate) after the first year. (I know a number of others who have had similar experiences with this type of sail from a number of different sailmakers).
In my opinion, even for racers, a sail that lasts only a year, is just insanely wasteful, no matter what your budget is, or what the gain in performance might be.
Here's my own, very superficial and uneducated take on the difference between the 2:
The lamination or bonding of film to fiber that takes place when building these 'one piece continuous fiber sails' is not as effective as the process that takes place under heat and pressure employed during the manufacture of sailcloth (rolled goods, used to make old fashioned 'paneled' sails).
Tell I'm wrong .... or that there have been significant improvements?
And if not, do they that still make laminated sailcloth like they did 10 years ago? And, if so, will someone build me another 'paneled/ radial sail'? (just rhetorical question)
I have no doubt that all the latest sails with continuous fibers, and many other newer innovations that I'm not aware of, provide a performance edge for those who simply must have the latest and the best at any cost. But because this is often extreme overkill, I will accept the inevitable, disadvantage when I try to compete against them on the race course. (at my level, very slight!)
My new sail was fast on the first day. How about a second day? Can we work on developing a little more durability for those of us not involved in the latest America's Cup?
Norwalk, CT USA
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