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We have a Beneteau 352 and need to get a new genoa. Current sail is original to the boat in 1999. We are cruisers, not racers. Looking for a 130% or 155%. I don't know the difference between a cross cut or tri radial sail. Not sure about the weight of the material and other qualities I should be considering. Any suggestions?
 

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In your shoes I'd go for a crosscut, save some coin there and move that into the lightest weight UV cover (assuming furler?) you can get. If not racing you'll likely never notice the difference between the pattern layouts, but the light cover will pay every time you sail in light air.

Also IIRC that range of Bene has a smallish rig? in which case you'd probably want the 155 unless you routinely sail in more solid breeze. OTOH if you're not light wind sailors and generally short handed you may prefer the easier tacking of the 130...
 

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I've had different weight cross cut dacron 150 genoas and a molded North 3DL sail on my boat over the past 18 years and went back to a cross cut 140 genoa. I am quite happy with this decision. If you are up north, the UV issue might not be as much a concern, but the UV cover on my 3DL was deteriorated after 10 years, as was the luff tape and the 3DL laminate.

For cruising purposes, you might consider that furling headsails don't reef very deeply without aerodynamic issues. If heavy weather is a concern, you might consider something less than a 155. I would avoid laminates for your cruising style and consider a reputable sailmaker for a cross cut genoa.
 

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Think of it like this (I am making up these numbers). A laminate sail will hold 100% of its shape until it basically explodes. A tri-radial will be at 95% after a year 90% after two and will then level off for the most part until it's replaced. A cross cut will be at 90% after a year, 80% after two and keep falling until it's around 50%.

Of course the trade off is that laminates are much more expensive, then tri-radials, finally crosscuts are the cheapest.

What the lost performance is worth is really up to you. The ultimate difference between a new crispy sail and a bagged out Dacron sail is pretty noticeable. Figure 5-7 degrees of point, substantial amount of extra heel, and lost boat speed. Old sails are also much harder (or impossible) to flatten when it's blowing exasperating these issues.
 

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As a rough rule of thumb, you have as much value in labour as you do in material in a sail - radial construction is more labour intensive so you pay a premium for labour, but, you get a better sail if it is made of Dacron - which is cheaper than a laminate. A taffeta coated laminate will have higher material cost but its inherent stability means you can use cross cut construction and still get a sail that will retain shape. Laminates are lighter - less weight aloft and easier to hump around but should not be hard folded or crushed.
In the end the choice should be how much pleasure you get from optimizing your boat's performance.
 

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One can still get dacron sails?!?!?! Thought they went the way of Egyptian Cotton cloth sails......

Any way, Triaxle laminate panel sewn from Ullman. No dacron on my boat! I was doing 5-6 knots with a 140 up this weekend in 8-12 knots upwind, Stayed ahead of a dacron setup Hunter 28 with a rating that is 6 seconds slower than I have with a main AND jib up. I only had the 140!

Marty

Marty
 

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Here's some scientific data:)

I like the way tri-radials look.

I don't know the performance characteristics of your boat, but one thing I've learned about sailmakers around here, is they tend to think we are all racers. I've had to recut a new jib that I couldn't see under, you see a deck sweeper is more efficient. The way we sail we're willing to trade visibility for performance.

A lot of my friends, all approaching a certain age, are downsizing their front sails, and end up quite happy about it. We usually get 15-25kts in the afternoon, so big sails end up reefed anyway.

Seriously, to pick the right foresail, think about how you use your boat, how hard you are willing to work for speed, how hard it blows where you sail, etc.
 

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Tri Radial If you Can afford it

OP-

First let's start off with your headsail size choice. Under no circumstances as a cruiser, would I get 155 unless you are expecting only light (5-8 kt) winds on a consistent basis. Once above 8-10kt, that size will overpower the boat requiring you to either change sails, change direction, or reef. A 155 is a light wind sail or one that racers will use if they have a lot of railmeat. Even with railmeat, above 12-15 kts apparent, that sail is too big. It's also more difficult to trim when trying to go closehauled. A better all purpose sail is the 125-135 range.

As far as cross-cut versus triradial, as others have said, the tri will be better shaped and hold it's shape longer than the cross-cut, but the cross-cut is going to be a lot cheaper. I have a cross-cut Dacron w/Kevlar threads (Hood Vektran) sail going on 4 years and it's shape is still pretty good. I am not sure that it is down 30% as Stumble suggested in his post. For a cruiser, I'd suggest a cross-cut if funds are limited. If you have the $, the tri will be a better sail, but it could be as much as 70% more than the cross-cut version. For your size boat, that could be a $1200+ difference.

DrB
 

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You can likely get a laminate sail for less than the price of the tri-radial dacron sail.

Tri-radial sails have more panels (meaning more wasted cloth and more sewing, which means more money), but can align the bias of each panel to reduce stretch. All things being equal a tri-radial sail will last longer than a cross-cut one.

Cross-cut sails use the full width of the fabric and so are the most efficient use of fabric.

Cruising laminates are load-path sails with pentax, kevlar, vectran, dyneema, or carbon strings laid along the load lines of the sail. The strings are then encased in mylar and on the cruising versions a tafetta covers the entire thing to add UV resistance and durability (with the expense of weight). The cover is also treated to about mildew growth since the mylar doesn't allow the sail to breath.

If you talk to local sail lofts you'll be able to get price quotes and recommendations for these options (or more) and your type of sailing. On cruising boats cross-cut dacron is by far the most common option, but with the downside that they stretch out of shape fairly quickly into their long service life.
 

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It's my understanding that dacron used to make tri radial sails is different, is this correct ?
Yes, it has more of the weave in one direction, as opposed to a more even distribution in 2 directions. The fabric for tri-radials is less common, and much more prone to UV deterioration.

How much of a percentage difference is the cost with the sails you are looking at? When I was looking at budget sails, the tri-radial dacron upgrade increased the cost about %50. I figured that getting cross cut sails, and replacing them more often made the best sense.

MedSailor
 

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For my new-to-me cruiser in New England, I bought a Doyle 135% dacron tri-radial (a "Quicksilver"), made in the USA (down the street from home actually...). It a lovely sail that puts a smile on my face every time I see it, which is often since it lives on the roller furling system. Its worked very well for us, if I were to do anything different, I would make it a 130% or a 125% instead. The issue is if you're trying to live without switching out to a small jib, its better to have the primary sail work into the lower 20's than work at 4-5 knots.
 

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We have a Beneteau 352 and need to get a new genoa. Current sail is original to the boat in 1999. We are cruisers, not racers. Looking for a 130% or 155%. I don't know the difference between a cross cut or tri radial sail. Not sure about the weight of the material and other qualities I should be considering. Any suggestions?
All good replies .... I'm a 'contrarian' who races and long distance cruises; here's my suggestion but involves designing a 'hybrid'.

Suggest a partial radial cut or full radial cut jib made of woven dacron with lighter weight luff panels and heavier weight leech panels for several reasons:

1. A radial or part-radial will last longer, is more stable to hold its shape - there will be little 'bias stretch' in the panels - less 'distortion' and less permanent stretch.
1a. upgrade to 'more stable' high aspect ratio cloth, even if you choose a 'lighter weight' cloth. The radial panels will be better aligned against where the sail takes maximum stress/strain. This is especially important in the LEECH edge panels, which are the ones to take permanent stretch/set, ... especially for 'cruisers' who typically over 'over-tension' their leeches when 'beating'.

2. Choose 'multi-weight' panels (2 weights of material).... lighter weight panels towards the luff and heavier weight cloth at the leech.
The lighter weight luff panels will affect a better 'roll-up' on a furler allowing deeper reefing without 'wrinkling' of the luff; plus in the higher wind ranges the lighter weight luff panels will be partly rolled up on the furler; the heavier weight leech section panels better able to withstand both higher wind and over-tensioning of the leech - the 'bane' of woven dacron. Choose a 'higher' (high aspect ratio) grade of woven dacron - Challenge™ or Contender™ cloths are quite good vs. 'stability'.
Also, with lighter weight luff panels you can more easily affect 'shape' of the sail and more easily control where the 'point of maximum draft' occurs - via halyard tension (although you may jam your furler at higher halyard tensions).
Why woven dacron over 'laminates'? - longer lasting, can take 'abuse', can be 'creased' and 'folded', are more 'adjustable' for sail shape.

The real 'functional' difference between a racing cut sail and a 'cruising' cut sail is: The precision needed by the helmsman to keep the air flowing across the sail without 'luffing' or without 'separation stalls'.
A 'race cut' (for your type of boat) sail is usually cut with a 'flattish' luff-entry profile just behind the luff ... allows for additional pointing ability and better performance (both speed AND power); but has a quite narrow range of 'angle of attack'. .... the helmsman has to be alway "ON" and constantly be looking at the luff to prevent stalls and 'luffs'.
A cruising cut is designed so that the luff-entry is 'roundish', so the inattentive helmsman doesnt have to be always 'on' watching for the sail to begin to luff, etc. --- a more 'FORGIVING' sail; but, doesnt point as well and has less speed and power output.

•A dacron cross cut is more easily 'adjustable' for desired shape .... just add tension to a single 'edge' and the shape will change. (shifting the 'point of maximum draft more forward' occurs with increased halyard tension, etc.)
•A dacron radial or part-radial will be more difficult to adjust for desired sail shape.
•A hybrid radial dacron w/ lighter weight luff section will be midway between the two ... but will last longer because the vulnerable leech section panels will be 'stronger' because of their heavier weight in the leech.

If you fly a spinnaker, then Id suggest you choose the smaller LP as smaller LPs are better for 'beating' especially in the higher wind ranges, relatively speaking.
IMO for cruising, a 135% is the best 'compromise' when you arent regularly flying a spinnaker: better for 'light' winds when large LP sails will more easily develop 'separation stalls'; and, you can easily 'roll down' by 30% (LP 135% ---> LP 90%) when 'reefed' and not have 'gross' distortions in the headsail. You'll only lose 15% SA with a 135%LP in comparison to a 155%LP; but most of the time, when going down wind the jib's leech section will be 'blanketed' by the mainsail anyway - as sailing down wind at an angle (135° - 150°) off the wind is always faster because youll still be sailing by 'aerodynamics' instead of 'air impact'.
 

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I have a new North Sails RADIAN dacron (Premium paneled 200), tri radial cut, and it is not difficult to adjust the desired shape...
It is very well made by North, which I consider them to be one of the best sailmakers around the world.
This sail was 20% more expensive that the premium paneled 100, which is standard dacron, cross cut.
 
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