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DrB 05-22-2008 02:52 PM

Cheap Race Sail vs Longer Term Dacron Headsail
I have the opportunity to pick up a brand new race headsail for essentially no money compared to a new Dacron one. I wasn't really looking to replace my headsail, just my main, but a new headsail would be nice. Now when I mean no money, I mean $0.15 to $0.20 on the dollar.

The sail was cut for another boat and ended up having a different dimension than measured or cut. Bottom line is that it doesn't fit on the intended boat. Enter me and my boat, which apparently the sail will fit according to the sails rep. The company that I am talking to made the current sails for my boat.

In order for the sail to be used on my furler, I'd have to have a suncover bonded onto it at a couple of hundred.

I don't race nor to I have a true race boat, so a race sail would not be my first desire. If I move forward with it, it would be my rolled head sail on a Pearson 10M.

I asked about longevity of the sail and was told about 5 years. Considering that my current Dacron headsail is in decent shape (good), still functions well, and 16 years old, this is a little concerning, even at the price I was quoted. If I could get 8 years out of it, I'd be happy because in all likelihood, I won't have my current boat then.

So the loaded question is: Dirt cheap race sail now and replace in 5 years or save my pennies for a more durable dacron sail that may last many years longer.


sailingdog 05-22-2008 02:58 PM

IMHO, you should get the sail...

sanctuarysam 05-22-2008 03:00 PM

no such thing as a dirt cheap race sail
just an occassional bargain if you happen along at the right time.
i can only guess it is made from kevlar..aramid, or some other short life expectancy race cloth.
hey, if it looks good on your boat, and will only cost a couple hundred boat units, i say go for it.
treat it well, keep it clean and it will last longer than the 5 yrs the sales guy said (be wary of "sales guys"..) .
see the sail on your boat before any cash changes hands.

blt2ski 05-22-2008 03:06 PM

A race sail if used occasionally as a cruiser, will last longer than one racing to a degree too. A race sail for a full bore race may be 25-50 tacks, or 3-5 races or maybe one! For a cruiser, the speed difference with 1 tack/useage vs 150 is minor for most of us.

If the price is right, you will probably gain some speed vs you Dac sail, actually, I have no doubt you will gain speed, along with less heeling too. If the boat will be gone in 4-6 yrs, you got your fun out of it!


DrB 05-22-2008 03:09 PM

More info.

The sail is was originally priced at $5K (No suncover). To make a new one for my boat at this size, the current cost is around $6200 with the suncover. Sales guy will let me have it for $1K. I will need to add white dacron leading suncover for furler for a few hundred more.

For my boat it will be a 145 genny, whereas my current roller head sail is a 135.

Still a good deal?



sailingdog 05-22-2008 03:27 PM

Sounds excellent. :)

Jeff_H 05-22-2008 04:14 PM

Here is the deal with full blown racing sails as I see them. I routinely use kevlar sails for cruising. I have them specially made for my cruising needs, which are different than my racing needs.

If this is truely a kevlar sail, it will have less stretch and will hold it's shape long after a cruising dacron sail ceases to be a sail at all, and has been reduced to a white fabric triangle filling the foretriangle. The real advantage of a well made racing sail is an enormously wider wind range, because they are lighter weight and cut slightly fuller they can be carried into a lower wind range, which for a cruiser translates to more sailing days/ less motoring time.

Because they stretch less they power up less at the upper wind range and so can be used into higher winds without heeling as much. All good stuff.

The shortcoming with Kevlar sails is that they need to be treated a little bit more carefully, as it taken down and carefully rolled or folded when not being used. Not flogged with reckless abandon. Not left for weeks in the sun. And not sailed with the sail partially furled. If that is done, a racing kevlar sail will outlast a dacron sail every time. The worst of all worlds for a boat your size seems to be polyester filament/mylar film laminates, which seem to have the bad characteristics of the other options.

Now then, I am a bit skeptical that this sail will actually fit your boat properly. Racing sails are cut for very specific deck and spar layouts, boat weights and so on. Small changes to the sail lead and angle of attack make big differences in how well the sail works. There is much more to a performance oriented sail than the length of the luff, clew and leech. I would suggest that you agree to a sail trial on the boat before modifying it in any way.


121Guy 05-22-2008 05:09 PM

Dr B
Suggest you provide more info on the sail you are may get more good info.

If it was me, I'd want to know the boat it was originally designed and made for. That Pearson 10M of yours is relatively heavy and relies on the genoa for a large share of it's power. How close is the foretriangle and weight of the boat it was altready designed for? The weight question and where in the race inventory this sail was supposed to be used will tell a great deal about how good the fit for you may be. As an example, if the sail was originally made as a light air sail for an ultralight race boat, the cloth choices might not be as durable as a race sail made for your boat.

I'd also want to know the loft and if the sail is paneled or molded and what cloth types and weights were used. Pretty easy to change dimensions on a paneled sail...not at all easy to do so on a molded one.

It may turn out that it will be a great deal and fit but you should consider finding out some more to get a better idea.

Good luck!

121 Guy

CharlieCobra 05-22-2008 05:37 PM

Try it out ON your boat before ya pay for it. Trust me on this. Rejects are rejects for a reason, especially racing sails. I recently had the same scenario and it turned out that the sail was miscut. When flattened out at the foot it was still loose from the middle up. It was so bad that we figured they were high when they molded that one.

DrB 05-22-2008 07:57 PM

Great Answers All, thank you. Response Part 3
The sail in question is a Doyle Stratis GPx. The loft is local to me and they and this particular individual that I have been dealing with helped design and make the sails that are currently on the boat. So, he knows the boat, the area that I sail, and the wind patterns here.

The way he and I got to this point was that I contacted Doyle about a new mainsail, not a foresail. When I told him that they were Doyle sails currently, he asked was it a local boat, yada yada yada and when I told them it was a P 10M Tail Mast, he said there is only one boat like that in this area that he knew of and it was Mr. X's boat and he sold him the current sails. I said Mr X. sold it to me. He said both sails were 16 years old, quoted me on the main and said he could let me have a real nice light air perforamnce genny for practically no money.

He and I have made a tentative appointment to lay out the sail and take actual measurements at the loft and compared them to the dimensions of my boat. I will ask for a demo sail as part of the deal. Right now he is going on measurements that are in the computer for the sail.

I think if it fits, it could be a sweet buy, but I don't what to look for? Hence the request for help here. The current shape of my 135 genny looks a little stretched and I have problems keeping the twist under control. The stitching is very good and the panels are don't have any loose threads, tears, or broken fibers. The tack has a little wear as it rubs against the bow pulpit. Overall the sail is in good shape for it's age and does a good job of powering the boat, but I have nothing to compare it to. The new sail would be a 145.


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