Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: New England
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Carbon fiber is an acrylic-based material which is progressively heat treated to eliminate all but the carbon, primarily nitrogen and hydrogen. It has good strength in both compression and tension. It is very UV-resistant, but can be brittle, depending on the exact formulation of the carbon fiber. The less brittle, more flexible formulations are generally higher stretch than their more brittle counterparts. Newer carbon fiber sails pair the carbon fiber with kevlar, spectra or vectran to help reduce stretch while minimizing the sail's brittleness.
Kevlar is an aramid fiber (a chemical linkage of -CO-NH-), which is often used in bulletproof vests. It has good strength in tension, but has little strength in compression—you can't push on a rope.
Kevlar has low UV-resistance compared to Dacron sails, and is far more vulnerable to mechanical damage and fatigue from flogging, folding, and flexing. Care should be taken to minimize flogging when sailing and to roll the sails when storing.
The newer carbon fiber laminates will probably outlast the kevlar ones, with similar performance characteristics. They're gonna cost you some boat bucks though.
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You know what the first rule of sailing is? ...Love. You can learn all the math in the 'verse, but you take
a boat to the sea you don't love, she'll shake you off just as sure as the turning of the worlds. Love keeps
her going when she oughta fall down, tells you she's hurting 'fore she keens. Makes her a home.
—Cpt. Mal Reynolds, Serenity (edited)
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Still—DON'T READ THAT POST AGAIN.