What sail material are racer/cruisers recommending these days? - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 24 Old 12-14-2015 Thread Starter
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What sail material are racer/cruisers recommending these days?

Looking to replace a number one and two headsail for a fractional rig, 35.5 ft long. Regular racers, but not seriously competitive- we prefer performance sails with durability. I've reviewed and researched the options but was interested in what other racer/cruisers think of the options available? Leaning towards tape-drive or norlam but open to learning about other options from sailors with firsthand experience.

We want a light number one for those ultra-light wind days, and a medium number two for a broader range of wind conditions. We have a number three that is solidly built.

Sorry to add yet another "What material should I buy" thread but I can't seem to zero in on a single material based on various threads I've read. Any ideas, thoughts, or recommendations?

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post #2 of 24 Old 12-14-2015
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We found the load path sails were generally good all around sails, fairly quick, held their shape well and lasted a decent amount of time. If longevity is more important then the podium then a woven material will live longer but will get round and slow sooner.

For an inventory I would rather have an AP 1, #3 and new main. The light 1 big 2 never really worked for us. YMMV
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Re: What sail material are racer/cruisers recommending these days?

We went with UK tapedrive sails and promptly won that year's club championship, and I think the next, sailing against an assortment of well-sailed boats in our fleet. (J/109's, 105's, B36.7, assorted Tartans, Swans, C&C's.) We liked the tapedrives a lot, and used them a lot. They ended up lasting about three seasons. The jib disintegrated in one race delaminating in so many places that we ran out of sail tape and almost ran out of duct tape before we were able to round the last windward mark.

We've been using Pentex since then with the idea that the sailcloth will at least hold up longer than four years, even if the shape is no longer optimal after three: it won't disintegrate mid-tack. Our heavy dacron delivery sail still works despite the loft having gone out of business more than twenty years ago. We also have a fractional rig, but find that when the wind pipes up to around 20 it is easier to reef the main than to downsize to a #2 jib. (Besides, weight on the bow is slow.) When it's blowing in the upper twenties we'll simply furl the jib if we're cruising and sail under the main. We'll set the #3 if we're beating in that much breeze. Our #2 hasn't seen much use since we got a roller-furler. Most seasons it doesn't even get out of the attic onto the boat. For races, the narrow wind range and heading for which it would be useful - perhaps 18-20 knot beats - means that it isn't worth the space it takes up in the v-berth forward.
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post #4 of 24 Old 12-14-2015 Thread Starter
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Re: What sail material are racer/cruisers recommending these days?

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We found the load path sails were generally good all around sails, fairly quick, held their shape well and lasted a decent amount of time.
We have a choice in the PNW of a number of major sailmakers, along with a few small ones. I like to support the small companies but we also want to get the right material. Any particular preference of sailmakers for the sails you used and liked?

Thanks in advance! The choices of materials and supposed advantages is hard to sift through.

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Re: What sail material are racer/cruisers recommending these days?

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The jib disintegrated in one race delaminating in so many places that we ran out of sail tape and almost ran out of duct tape before we were able to round the last windward mark.

We've been using Pentex) .
We had quite a blow here this last weekend and we shredded an older laminate we had (and loved). Didn't think of using duct tape!

Who made your Pentex sails and are you saying you furl your sails? I was under the impression that laminate sails shouldn't be furled but I need to become better acquainted with the Pentex material. We have a furler but haven't used it when racing. Thanks so much for sharing your experience!

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Re: What sail material are racer/cruisers recommending these days?

We carefully folded our tape-drive sails between uses. That was when we had a double-slotted tuff-luff for the jib. Since then we got a roller-furler, and since we needed a new jib anyway, we got a pentex one. When we needed to replace the main, the aesthetic committee voted to have the main match the jib. We've been happy with Z Sails, in Stamford CT. They seem to have fast sails in a good number of fleets - J/24's and bigger.
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post #7 of 24 Old 12-15-2015
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Joy, work with the guys you like. Most, if not all, of the sailmakers you work with will give you good service. Or sail maker has been 4 lofts in the time we've bought from them. The sticker on the tack changes but the people are the same. That's who you buy from.
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post #8 of 24 Old 12-16-2015 Thread Starter
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Re: What sail material are racer/cruisers recommending these days?

The perplexing part is that the lofts have their own proprietary sail type/name and it takes careful consideration to figure out what material is being used and how does it compare with material only offered at a competing loft. We are zeroing in on a fabric with the help of our local "small" shop who built another sail for us. He's recommending either a GPL or a new fabric that Dimension Polyant makes called Carbon Sport with the option of adding a "liteskin" of taffeta.

We want to buy local, no doubt, and we want to buy the right product for our needs. Since we're mostly club racing, durability is highly valued, followed by performance. Thanks so much for all the insight!

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Re: What sail material are racer/cruisers recommending these days?

Ullman dominates the market here in Orange County California, his main loft is here. I just bought my first laminate, it's Mylar from Ullman, it was also the first used sail I've bought and the first thing I bought from Fleabay. Lightly used (if at all) and made for the same model boat as mine, the spreader patches and everything line up perfect. $700 and it fits my Schaeffer furler.
I can't keep up with materials, a friend had a 140 made for his fractional Jeanneau 36i by Ullman last spring, it's got white and black "Fibers" and a taffeta cover I think. Very nice sail, his size was limited by the length of the jib tracks. I think it was close to $4000, we both keep them on furlers with an ATN jib sleeve or sock. I'll try to attach some pics of my used sail, I've only had a couple days to try it.
$560 cover to protect a $700 sail, that's boat economics.
It's got someone else's PHRF numbers, kinda afraid to try removing them.
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post #10 of 24 Old 12-16-2015 Thread Starter
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Re: What sail material are racer/cruisers recommending these days?

We recently got some on Ebay, too, for our boat and we never see sails for our boat! I watch all the sites regularly because some racers go through sails pretty quickly. We'd love to see some fancy ones like that!

Just got the quote for the 155% GPL Tri-radial carbon/technora genoa=ouch! Gonna have to really think about this one!

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