Join Date: Jun 2007
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Over on AS, somebody else was asking a similar question. His 4-year-old Mylar genny is falling apart and he's looking for recommendations for a racing sail material that'll last a bit longer. Here were my comments:
Thing is: Traditionally, you get either low-tech, high-resistance-to-everything fabrics that tend to lose shape, or high-tech, low-resistance-to-abuse materials that don't stretch (much), but tend to give up catastrophically after a few short years.
It is my understanding that most racers expect to have to replace their high-tech sails after only 4-5 years of use, at most. Whereas our 33-year-old polyester sails, while certainly not an optimum shape anymore, are still perfectly serviceable.
That being said: If racing is your primary activity, it looks like Vectran may be your best bet. I bet it's spendy, too . Perhaps Kevlar? I read a lot of good things about Pentex, a couple years ago.
We keep the original sails on the boat for cruising, and only put on the racing sails when we're going to be racing. It's a hassle, but, this way, our racing sails ought to last a good, long time. Also: None of our sails ever get put away wet--or even damp. In fact: Last week our Mylar #1 got stashed below, spread out on a settee, because the grass was damp when we got back from our last race, so we couldn't flake and fold it. (Took care of that yesterday.) Even the old cruising sails... One time last season a friend and I spent about an hour, waving one of the headsails in the wind, waiting for it to dry, so it could be flaked, folded and stored for the season. (It had gotten wet while lashed to the deck, coming in, and the wind was too strong to simply hoist it at the dock.)