Join Date: Feb 2000
Location: Annapolis, Md
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Re: Mainsail Design Question...
Med, I mean no disrespect to you or your girl. We all love our boats for different reasons, and of course overall performance is but one item that you may or may not cherish. In the end the best boat for anyone is the one that we think works for us.
But to address your questions, these are questions best addressed to the specific sail maker who is making your sails. There is a tendency to think of terms like radial construction or warp oriented fabrics as if these terms describe something very specific and as if they describe commodity items. In fact like so many things in sailing, these terms are very broad generalities but the reality of how good or bad these are, lies in the specific execution.
But also this is one of those areas where purpose can trump lifespan. The technology is nothing new. That concept has been around since cotton sails. But its how it gets used.
For example not all radial sails employ warp oriented cloth, and not all warp oriented cloths are made the same. Only the sailmaker who is quoting the sail can explain what they plan to use and its various advantages and limitations.
But talking more generally, Warp oriented cloth is one of those cases where the generality means very little and the specifics are the real truth of the matter. The last time that I had looked at warp oriented dacron, there were a wide range of products out there. In some warp oriented fabrics, there was only a small difference between the warp and woof threads. But in other products, mostly intended for race boats looking for a PHRF cruising sail credits, there was a huge difference in the weight of the warp and woof. That sail cloth was pretty short lived in the leech where fluttering and flogging stresses the horizontally oriented, weaker woof fibers (rather than the stronger vertically oriented warp) to a premature failure.
I have not heard anything about a shorter UV life, but my guess is that in the heavily biases clothes, the weaker (thinner) thread could sun rot sooner and fail.
I wish I could be more specific but to do so I would need to also be speculating or else talking to your sail maker. What this does hint out is one reason not to buy mail order sails. A good sailmaker will spend time finding out about how you plan to use the sails and your personal preferences and then discuss their approach to meeting your needs in enough detail that you can make an informed decision about how thier recommendations dove tail with your own needs and wants.
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Curmudgeon at Large- and rhinestone in the rough, sailing my Farr 11.6 on the Chesapeake Bay