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sonosail 09-11-2012 03:15 PM

Another new sail question/rant
 
For those who have been told that a dacron sail will loose it's shape in a year, and a laminate sail needs to be replaced in 3, please don't abandon the sport yet!

On my 35' sailboat, I'm still using a tri-radial paneled mainsail (laminate with twaron fibers) that has lasted for more that ten years. I know most performance conscious sailors would not expect to keep a sail this long. The actual shape, has only degraded slowly. It was over built so, probably, on the heavy side, but not lightly used.
I expect that the next time I hoist it, every thread, fiber, and molecule of glue will let go all at once. But it held up amazingly well and I wish I had bought out the complete lot of sailcloth from which it was made.

2 years ago I bought a genoa constructed using continuous (corner to corner kevlar fibers. ) I don't wish to bad mouth any sailmaker so I won't mention the brand, of which there are many pushing this type of sail now.
The whole thing began to come apart (delaminate) after the first year. (I know a number of others who have had similar experiences with this type of sail from a number of different sailmakers).
In my opinion, even for racers, a sail that lasts only a year, is just insanely wasteful, no matter what your budget is, or what the gain in performance might be.

Here's my own, very superficial and uneducated take on the difference between the 2:
The lamination or bonding of film to fiber that takes place when building these 'one piece continuous fiber sails' is not as effective as the process that takes place under heat and pressure employed during the manufacture of sailcloth (rolled goods, used to make old fashioned 'paneled' sails).

Tell I'm wrong .... or that there have been significant improvements?
And if not, do they that still make laminated sailcloth like they did 10 years ago? And, if so, will someone build me another 'paneled/ radial sail'? (just rhetorical question)

I have no doubt that all the latest sails with continuous fibers, and many other newer innovations that I'm not aware of, provide a performance edge for those who simply must have the latest and the best at any cost. But because this is often extreme overkill, I will accept the inevitable, disadvantage when I try to compete against them on the race course. (at my level, very slight!)

Dear sailmaker;
My new sail was fast on the first day. How about a second day? Can we work on developing a little more durability for those of us not involved in the latest America's Cup?

SchockT 09-11-2012 06:00 PM

Re: Another new sail question/rant
 
Whether you are talking about racing yachts, cars, bicycles or even wheelchairs there will always be durability sacrifices made in the quest for the performance edge over the competition. I remember years ago I spent big bucks on high performance tires for my car. They were fantastic! For about 20,000 km, then they were done.
The lofted weight that is saved in having a seamless sail, and the shape they can achieve makes a significant difference at the higher levels of racing, and does mean the difference between winning and losing. Durability is an acceptable trade off to a serious racing program. Does the average club racer NEED that same edge? Most likely not, but they sure look cool, and they are the fastest sails, so if you have the budget, go for it! If you are more practical, and want sails that will last longer, then super light sails are not for you!

Sailboat racing is not cheap!

johnnyquest37 09-11-2012 06:07 PM

Re: Another new sail question/rant
 
I thought Kevlar sails were only expected to be good for a year or two since the fibers are stiff and because they don't resist UV well. Just a few minutes of serious flogging can severly damage them.

Jeff_H 09-11-2012 06:12 PM

Re: Another new sail question/rant
 
I went through a similar thing. I had been a North Sail patron for a brief period of my life. During that period they convinced me to buy a couple of their 3DL's. I had bad experiences with early 3DL's and they swore the technology had really improved. After falling out with North, I went to Quantum and had one of their panel cut, high modulus sails made.

Of the two North 3DL's, one of the North 3DL's never quite fit and also was so under reinforced that it never made sense for the wind range it was built for, and so fankly has only been flown maybe a half dozen times. The other North 3DL was supposed to be a powered up AP #2 but was cut so flat, that it too had a much narrower wind range than I had hoped for, but I have bene using it and so it has had approximately 200 hours of use, mostly in moderate winds well under 15 knots.

At approximately the same time, I had Quantum build a broad-seamed, horizontal panel, laminated kevlar, powered up AP #3. That sail is not a 'film' sail like the 3DL. It was made from roll goods. As my sail of choice except in the lightest air, the Quantum Sail has closer to 300-350 hours on it, and certainly a lot more use in a lot higher wind, than the North 3DL's.

This weekend, I noticed that the North 3DL #2 is breaking down, with the mylar layer failing, and the Kevlar exposed and delaminating. That is similar to what killed a 3DL North Mainsail that I have that also had low hours before it failed. When I look at the Quantum panel sail, it still looks very fresh, and certainly still has a nice shape.

My conclusion is that whatever the theoretical value of these 'Molded film' sails, in reality, at least the North versions, just do not hold up very well in real use. Also the technology is such that they seem to have a very hard time getting the flying shape right as well.

At this point, I have decided to move completely away from the 'Molded film' sails and concluded that a broad seamed, high modulus sail is the way to go. The Quantum broad seamed AP #3 has been brilliant with an excellent flying shape, doing almost as well as the much bigger #2 in low windspeeds, and holding its shape very well all the way into the low to mid 20 knot range. And its been much more rugged as well. Lastly, broad seamed sails are considerably less expensive than the film sails, if the high modulus cloth is available in the weight that you need.

Then again, some of this may be the sailmaker (I have very little good to say about my experience at North), some the cloth and laminating techniques, but mostly I think that these molded film sails are being way over sold and are as you suggest very short lived.

Jeff

Seaduction 09-11-2012 06:13 PM

Re: Another new sail question/rant
 
2 Attachment(s)
I have a 27 year old mainsail available for anyone interested. I replaced it after a squirrel chewed a few holes in a couple of panels near the leach. About 33'4" luff and 12'6" foot.

Jeff_H 09-11-2012 06:17 PM

Re: Another new sail question/rant
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by johnnyquest37 (Post 921044)
I thought Kevlar sails were only expected to be good for a year or two since the fibers are stiff and because they don't resist UV well. Just a few minutes of serious flogging can severly damage them.

I don't know where you hear that. My boat came with a nearly 20 year old kevlar, heavy air #3 that I used for several years extensively during the winters. It was flogged for decades before I got it and flogged for 3 or so years afterward and was fine, good shape, holding together okay, before ultimately failing, being flogged in what I estimate was a 50 knot gust. May it rest in peace, or should I say pieces as its now recycled into dozens of dufflebags.

Jeff

zz4gta 09-11-2012 10:47 PM

Re: Another new sail question/rant
 
Jeff H, I've seen similar results from North 3DL's. aka 3 Days Long (how long they last). This was one of the big factors why I have chosen Q in the past, and will continue to do so.

A lot has to do with the sailmaker and owner/customer. If the customer wants a light sail, they sailmaker needs to explain that it will effect the longevity of the sail. I've also heard (read on sailing anarchy) that using the published numbers on Q's site and North's site, Q uses a lot more heat and pressure than North does. IMHO I believe North's sails are very fast, but they don't last very long.

In buying my 4th sail from Q I specifically asked for a higher dpi so it would deal with being overloaded a bit. I do a lot of distance races and longevity is important to me, even if they aren't taken care of all that well and turn out a bit on the heavy side.

Laminate sails require more care, which means no "late breaks" when tacking overlapping headsails, flake or roll them, put them away dry, and don't let them sit in the sun when not in use. NEVER furl them. I don't care if it's a "furling" J105 class jib. Furling is bad. The sport boats guys know this, accept it, and just replace the jib on a more frequent basis.

To the OP, if you've taken care of the sail, then you need to talk to your sailmaker. They obviously under spec'd the sail or you used it in a wind range higher than what was intended to be. There are a lot of discussions about how a laminate sail stays together. The type of glue, too many fibers and the mylar doesn't stick to each other very long(like in the corners) , to little, and the sail is under built, mylar takes the load, and the same thing happens. Delamination.

Since you mention "molded", "one piece", "continuous fibers", I must assume you're talking about North. They're not the only one who make string sails, so don't give up on em yet. Spend some more time talking to Ullman, Quantum, Evolution, etc. and see what they offer. Ask a lot of question from materials, manufacturing, R&D on your boat, everything. Sails aren't cheap, and after doing a bit of homework, you can usually get what you want.

sonosail 09-12-2012 11:15 AM

Re: Another new sail question/rant
 
Thanks Jeff-h and zz4gta. Some of your comments and experiences sound familiar.
'String' sails may be the future, but I'm going to live with horizontal seams and 'disconnected' fibers' for now. To me, requiring a mold to make sails is a complete anacronism.

sonosail 09-12-2012 11:31 AM

Re: Another new sail question/rant
 
ALTHOUGH, a friend of mine just took delivery of a new 'ICE' ?? sail (from Doyle NZ??).
It is a beauty! With these strange looking horizontal fibers. Who knows! We'll see if it lasts for more than a week.

johnnyquest37 09-12-2012 12:01 PM

Re: Another new sail question/rant
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Jeff_H (Post 921053)
I don't know where you hear that. My boat came with a nearly 20 year old kevlar, heavy air #3 that I used for several years extensively during the winters. It was flogged for decades before I got it and flogged for 3 or so years afterward and was fine, good shape, holding together okay, before ultimately failing, being flogged in what I estimate was a 50 knot gust. May it rest in peace, or should I say pieces as its now recycled into dozens of dufflebags.

Jeff

Having never owned a Kevlar sail, I can't provide any personal experience to the discussion. Just from scuttlebutt, my understanding has been that Kevlar sails are good for a year or two. According to Sailpower: Trim and Techniques for Cruisers by Peter Nielsen (p.27), "Sails made from (Kevlar) are very light but far from durable in a cruising context. Kevlar is brittle and does not stand up well to flogging and flexing" Further in the text he states "It's not unusual for a woven sail to last 10 years or more, while the lifespan of a laminate sail is closer to five years," but he's talking Mylar here as opposed to Kelvar.


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