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Go Back   SailNet Community > On Board > Gear & Maintenance > Mainsail Design Question...
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Topic Review (Newest First)
02-23-2013 10:03 PM
Sternik
Re: Mainsail Design Question...

Last year, when I inquired with my sailmaker for recommendation on new set of "white dacron-like" radial sails, that could be used with integrated lazy jack/sail cover and jib roller, he recommended two materials:
- Dimension Polyant AP Blade
- Dimension Polyant Square (this one being pretty much race-ready material without going into the laminate sails)
He also mentioned both materials do not need special handling, unlike laminates.
02-23-2013 08:05 PM
Jeff_H
Re: Mainsail Design Question...

Challenge is a well regarded cloth supplier so I would expect Warpdrive to be a quality product. But as to durability I would be hesitant to comment since I rarely end up with Challenger products when I have had sails made. For no obvious reason I typically end up with Dimension fabrics. It's mostly about some particular weight and weave pattern to hit a specific goal that I had in mind.

Which is a really long way to say this is really something that you address to your sailmaker.

Jeff
02-23-2013 07:31 PM
MedSailor
Re: Mainsail Design Question...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeff_H View Post
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.


... 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...

Jeff
Absolutely no offense taken, I was just having a go. We do love our boats for different reasons (see my signature) .

Setting aside cost difference completely for a moment, do you think it is possible that a tri-radial dacron of say WarpDrive cloth would fail sooner than a crosscut sail or more standard cloth? Or is it a given, or at least more likely, that the tri-radial dacron sails last longer?

Thanks again for your thoughts.

MedSailor
02-23-2013 07:10 PM
killarney_sailor I think that conventional Dacron sails from a good loft are quite remarkable. When we bought our boat our #2 was obviously shot and our Hood furling main looked pretty good but was far from new. We bought a #2 from North with a great boat show price. Our first year we went NYC to Bermuda and back for a shakedown and then the Cheaspeake as far south as Grenada and back. Before we left we assumed we would need a new main. When we got back to Florida we could not see any change in the main and the genoa needed only minor repairs. So we put off getting a new main until later (Oz or NZ?), With further minor repairs in Brisbane and South Africa we are ready to head to the Caribbean and North America. We wii be over 30,000 miles by then and these sails have been up in winds they were never meant for. For a cruiser I wonder if the fancy cuts are worth it.
02-23-2013 06:33 PM
PaulinVictoria
Re: Mainsail Design Question...

They look cooler, that must add at least half a knot.
02-23-2013 06:23 PM
Jeff_H
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.

Jeff
02-23-2013 02:44 PM
MedSailor
Re: Mainsail Design Question...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeff_H View Post
...The reality is that your boat's performance will always be limited by the configuration of the hull and rig. You can easily argue that the performance gain of a radial sail would be minimal. On the other hand, you can easily argue that if anyone could benefit from a bit more performance, it might be your boat...
Hey!!! That's my girl you're talking about there! Though you do make a really good point, so I guess we're still friends.

Decreasing creep so that the sail retains its shape longer certainly sounds like an advantage whereby it will last longer especially in conditions where it is sailed harder and closer to the wind.

How about the other ways to destroy a sail? Is leech flutter/flogging from reefing worse on tri-radials or do they handle it better than crosscut?

I've heard that warp oriented dacron can be more U/V sensitive. Lucky for us there is NO UV up here. On the other hand our plan is to depart in 5-7 years from now to Mexico --> South Pacific--> circumnavigate Australia. There is plenty of sun on the later years of that route, but I wonder how long my sail should be expected to last into that plan anyway? And would it last longer/go further if it is a tri-radial?

Also I've heard that some of the warp-oriented cloth actually wasn't as good as advertised and they wore out much faster than crosscut. Do you think they've figured out this (warp-oriented dacron) technology now or is it still "too new"?

MedSailor
02-23-2013 11:49 AM
Jeff_H
Re: Mainsail Design Question...

Tri-radial Dacron sails usually benefit from a variety of things. First of all Dacron tri-radial sails are usually made from warp oriented cloth. Most cloth has an equal fiber in warp and fill threads, but warp oriented cloth has heavier threads running the length of the fabric, and between the heavier weight and higher tension on the warp, the thread lie straighter in the cloth. When woven cloth stretches the biggest initial portion of that stretch is the threads pulling straighter so that alone reduces stretch.

Because warp oriented cloth is a premium product it is made with higher quality Dacron, and usually goes through a more rigorous inspection program than the commodity Dacron cloth which is often for cross cut sails. That alone helps increase the life of the fabric.

If you look closely at a fabric, there are little squares formed between the vertical and horizontal threads. The cloth is strongest and stretches less in the direction of the threads. The diagonals of the square holes between the threads is the 'bias' of the fabric. These square holes distort into parallelegrams when the stress does not align with the threads. This results in greater stretch than a similar stress would cause parallel with the threads. In a cross cut sail, the stress pattern in the sail is such that it causes bias loading a throughout a larger portion of the sail and therefore greater stretch in the sail.

Radial cutting of a sail allows the panels to be better oriented to the stress patterns in the sail. This means that there is less bias stretch. And because the cloth is generally higher quality and the stress follows the path of the fibers, and the fibers are less distorted there is much less stretch.

Stretch of course is a bad thing in almost all ways. To a racer it means poorer upwind ability and a less stable flying shape, but to a cruiser, it means a sail which is powering up, just when you want the sail flat. The problem with a powered up sail is that it causes more heeling and weather helm, so you end up reeling much sooner than you might with a lower stretch sail.

But also,when threads stretch they spring back to something close to their original length. That ability to remain elastic is one of the nice things about Dacron. But every time it stretches, it does not return perfectly. Instead it grows ever so slightly longer and never returns to its original length. That is called creep. Cumulatively it is creep which ultimately spells the end of the useful lifespan of a Dacron sail, before it has deteriorated into the realm of a white triangle pretending to be a sail. The more the cloth stretches, the more creep occurs. Since cross cut sails stretch more, they tend to experience more creep. Creep means a fuller sail and for the cruiser that means more heeling and weather helm as well.

The reality is that your boat's performance will always be limited by the configuration of the hull and rig. You can easily argue that the performance gain of a radial sail would be minimal. On the other hand, you can easily argue that if anyone could benefit from a bit more performance, it might be your boat. You can also argue that the reduced heeling of a radially cut mainsail with warp oriented fibers would reduce heeling, weather helm and the need to reef, all really good things. And lastly, the greater lifespan of the radial sail may pay for itself over the life cycle of the sail.

I also think that none of us can specifically answer the question of what is right for you. These are preferential questions. Only you can evaluate your priorities, who's much sailing you do in gusty, or windy conditions, first cost or life cost and so on. There is no single, universally correct answer here.

Respectfully,

Jeff
02-23-2013 09:54 AM
blt2ski
Re: Mainsail Design Question...

For around here, assuming you stay in puget sound.......a lighter stronger sail will be better for the lighter winds we have a tendency to have. So from that standpoint, a tri radial would be better.

Another option that I've noticed to be less than triradial, a bit more than dacron.....you may not like as it is all laminate, is the Ullman CAL sail. This is a cross cut laminate sail, maybe 20% ore than a decent made dacron. I have a 140 out of it, very strong pulling sail. Should have gone with my main that way instead of a string style. Talk to Chris or Jeff at the seattle loft if you think this might be a viable option.

I would not get a North norlam from my experience. These seem to have a short life span, shorter than some true laminates. The cal I have is doing better life wise etc than the nor-lam I have.

Marty
02-23-2013 02:24 AM
overbored
Re: Mainsail Design Question...

the one thing I have noticed with my older sails which are all Dacron warp drive cloth and tri radial construction is that the first thing to go is the leach. the sails seem to get stretched there first. they were used for racing only. and are still not that bad but not good for racing. I would not buy one for cruising, to expensive and need to be handled with care. go with a cross cut and a good grade of dacron. up grading the cloth will cost more but not as much as the tri radial cut. and will last a lot longer
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