Seeking opinions on North 3DL sails - SailNet Community
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post #1 of Old 08-02-2009 Thread Starter
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Seeking opinions on North 3DL sails

Hi All, I have been soliciting quotes on new main, genny and spinnaker. So far I have quotes from North and Ullman, with two others due Monday.

To my surprise, North 3DL came in under Ullman for the total cost of main and genny (Ullman didn't quote the chute for some reason). I have been reading up on the 3DL, on the North web site, so of course they claim they are the best racing sails hands down. Still, they have Russell Coutts, Dennis Conner and Practical Sailor singing their praises.

So I am soliciting objective opinions on the 3DL sails. They claim it makes for a sail that not only holds its shape better, but also has a wider range of wind speed it can be used effectively in. If that's true, its attractive because I just don't have room below for lots of head sails.

This is a big investment, so I would appreciate comments.

Thanks!

Jim


EDIT! I should have mentioned that the intention for these is racing. I have existing Pentex laminant sails I can hang on to for cruising and race practice.

Last edited by jarcher; 08-03-2009 at 01:09 PM.
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post #2 of Old 08-03-2009
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Depends on what you are going to use them for. I agree that the genoas especially are among the best, if not the best racing sails around--lighter and stronger and better shaped. However, like all the high-tech sails, they have limited sun resistance, break down quickly when flogged, and North didn't like to put reef points in the mains. Most people store the headsails in sausage bags and roll the mains, because sharp folds tend to break them down.
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post #3 of Old 08-03-2009
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Unless you race or are rich.....

The 3DL's are unnecessary. Nothing against North's 3DL, they are some of the best sails out there for performance. Sure they look good, hold there shape well, but you do have to handle them with more care than a standard dacron sail and they are a significant upcharge compared to a high quality dacron sail. They are prone to delamination and mold/mildew. If you are going to use the headsail on a RF, expect an even shorter lifespan compared to a hank on. The J105 that I sometimes crew on has 3DL headsails and they rip and delaminate frequently. Granted they are a few years old, but it seems that every 3 to 5 weeks, some repair has to be done on them.

If you can afford them and afford to replace them in 2 to 5 years, go for it. If you're like me, I can't afford dropping many thousands every few years, so I go with a high quality dacron sail. For a headsail a high-quality, crosscut dacron sail will be a good substitute. It will hold it's shape well (but not as good as 3DL), not delaminate, and less prone to mildew.

Once the 3DL's begin to delaminate or when a certain percentage of their fibers break, they are basically useless sails, where as a dacron sail, will still "work".

DrB

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post #4 of Old 08-03-2009
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Unless racing is your primary use, I wouldn't consider 3DLs. Yes they hold the molded shape well for a number of years, but the total useful life is much less than a dacron sail. Racers that also cruise will typically have two sets of sails - one for racing and one for cruising. For the average sailor, its still hard to beat the value of a well-made crosscut dacron sail. If you want a step up from a crosscut dacron sail, consider a "cruising laminate" sail.
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post #5 of Old 08-03-2009
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A good kevlar sail has a longer useful racing life if properly cared for. Dacron will lose it's shape quicker and especialy a headsail will be slower since they are fewer ways to adjust them.

True kevlar needs better care, rolling as has been mentioned and just as importantly keeping it out of the sun except when it is not in actual use. A sailmaker friend of mine leaves his main cover on until about 10 minutes before a race. If there is a significant delay between races he puts the head sail down below.

Kevlar shrinks in UV, if you have a 5 or so year old main it will likely be about 6 inches or more short on the hoist. All that being said if you want to race competatively you must use them.
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post #6 of Old 08-03-2009 Thread Starter
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My bad, I neglected to say that my intent is to use them for racing.

So the theme is that they are great sails, but they need to be cared for well and won't last long. One of my questions for the guy who quoted them is how many hours of useful life I can expect, so I see the answer will be not many.

The existing sails are 7 year old Pentex laminates, and I was planning to keep those for practice and cruising.

Are these comments generally for any racing sails like the Ullman and UK Halsey as well, or is the frailness specific to 3DL?

Thanks everyone!

Last edited by jarcher; 08-03-2009 at 01:10 PM.
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post #7 of Old 08-03-2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jarcher View Post
Are these comments generally for any racing sails like the Ullman and UK Halsey as well, or is the frailness specific to 3DL?
Thanks everyone!
that's a better question. Do a search on SA for Carbon vs Kevlar and it then gets more interesting. I chose to go with technora, as the fibers don't break down as easily as C or K when being bent, therefore extending the life of the sail. At least that's what they sold me on, we'll see what it looks like in a year or 2. If you take care of 3DLs then you can get roughly 2 years of competative racing out of them. Anything more, and you'll notice you don't point as high, heel a little more, etc, however you'll still have great sails, they just might not get you that extra 0.1 of a knot out of em. 4 years you'll start to get some delam, and 5+ years they may even blow out (not the shape, but the material itself).

Also, you haven't mentioned you're price range? Retail on a technora 155 from Quantum was over $2300 for my 25 footer. But times are tough, and you can talk them into a discount pretty easily right now. Even more so in sept. oct.

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post #8 of Old 08-03-2009
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And don't be sold on what the "pros" are using. There's a reason they have the sailmakers logo plastered all over the boat.

Do you think Earnheart really likes Budwiser? Or does he put the sticker on his car b/c Budwiser bought him the entire car?

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post #9 of Old 08-03-2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DrB View Post
The 3DL's are unnecessary. Nothing against North's 3DL, they are some of the best sails out there for performance. Sure they look good, hold there shape well, but you do have to handle them with more care than a standard dacron sail and they are a significant upcharge compared to a high quality dacron sail. They are prone to delamination and mold/mildew. If you are going to use the headsail on a RF, expect an even shorter lifespan compared to a hank on. The J105 that I sometimes crew on has 3DL headsails and they rip and delaminate frequently. Granted they are a few years old, but it seems that every 3 to 5 weeks, some repair has to be done on them.

If you can afford them and afford to replace them in 2 to 5 years, go for it. If you're like me, I can't afford dropping many thousands every few years, so I go with a high quality dacron sail. For a headsail a high-quality, crosscut dacron sail will be a good substitute. It will hold it's shape well (but not as good as 3DL), not delaminate, and less prone to mildew.

Once the 3DL's begin to delaminate or when a certain percentage of their fibers break, they are basically useless sails, where as a dacron sail, will still "work".

DrB
+1

you have to balance short term performance against cost and long term life.

The Doyle Stratus system is similar but i believe is more reliable.
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post #10 of Old 08-03-2009
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I sail with my local sailmaker fairly regulary and his D4 kevlar main is now 5 years old and still looks pretty darn good to me, and performs very well.

As I said earlier he takes good care of it but he is only now starting to consider replacing it. That boat probably does about 40-50 round the bouy races a year. No distance stuff.

5 very competative years is not bad.
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