We''ve just bought a C&C 25 that has a paint tarp instead of a mainsail. I know very little about various brands of sails. Any help? whats good, what''s junk. We''re thinking either new or used. Thanks, Jim
You can go several different routes: used, you measure it new, or they measure for you new. Personally I am not that keen on used sails as they offer generally poor performance and an uncertain life. There are several places listed in the back of Cruising World that stock used sails. Both this website and places like www.cruisingdirect.com offer new sails constructed from your measurements. You get a new sail from a quality manufacturer. (North Sails makes Crusing Direct). You need to measure youself which is not a big deal. The high end in terms of cost would be going to a full service sailmaker like North, Quantum, etc. They would provide a person to go out and measure for you, advise as to cloth weight, reefs, etc. You would also expect excellent after sales service and even a test sail. I have had very good experiences with North Sails but I am not all that convinced that one maker is vastly different from another. I would be concerned with sailmakers who are physically far from your boat as you may not get the service that you need in case anything goes wrong. Good luck.
I have had the benefits of sailing on a lot of boats with sails from a wide range of sailmakers. There are definate differences from sailmaker to sailmaker and even from cheaper production versions of sails from the same sailmaker. These variations can have a lot of affect on how fast the boat goes, how easily it handles high winds or sails in light air, how long the sail lasts, and even how the sail looks after a few years of use.
The better lofts spend a lot on sail shape research, do more careful testing of the fabrics that they use, often have custom versions of standard fabric types with better UV protection, or fiber orientation. Very subtle differences can make big differences in the quality of the sail that you end up with.
I have found that lofts like Banks, Haarstick, Quantum and North who are involved in racing generally have better stress mapping which results in better shaped sails across the board. I have also found that timing my purchase to cooincide with big discount periods, such as boat show periods and slack periods during early winter can result in some big savings to the point that I have purchased top notch sails for the same price (or sometimes a little less and sometimes a little more) as the discount houses were quoting.
The other thing is resale. When I look at a boat with new sails by an off name sailmaker I immediately assume that they are junk and will need to be replaced. If I see a name brand I assume they were reasonable sails to begin with. Its just human nature.
I purchased a C&C 25 this year myself and the boat was outfitted with an old somewhat tired main from Newport Sails and a rather nice Dacron mainsail from Thurston sails in Bristol, RI. Since my boat was raced in Narraganset Bay for a number of years the sail inventory was pretty diverse. If I was going to get the maximum performance out of the boat, I would put up the newer main as well as the 150 Mylar genoa and then let ''er rip out in Buzzards Bay. For basic cruising and daysailing with family, I would just leave the old Newport main up and then let is stay on the boom under the sail cover overnight without giving a second thought about ruining it. You may want to give Bill Shore at Shore sails down in Newport RI a call as he is familiar with the C&C 25 and can make good recommendations based on the type of sailing or racing you are going to do in your area.
I had excellent luck purchasing a USED 145% genoa from UK sails Detroit. It was a tape drive cruising sail for my 38'' sloop. Paid $600. Al DeClerk of UK/Detroit was very helpful and honest in his condition report. Had some pointing issues and Al recut the sail over the winter at no charge. Works well now. Great service on a used sail. Done via phone and internet.
Pick a loft that is close to you. You will get much more out of your money if you do. Sailmakers want to have their name known as the best in the area, and will gladly help you in tuning, repairs, advice. If you dont have a loft in your area or dont like the one, pick a good national loft and makesure to ask them what kind of waranty they have. Talk to them and really try to get an idea if that person will really help you later down the road. Good Luck