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Discussion Starter #1
The headsail on my boat is the Jeanneau OEM Technique Voile sail that has seen better days. It has been abused and repaired many times in the past 9+ years, and I hate looking at it, so I found room in the boat budget to replace it!

Given that it is going to live on the furler during the sailing season I am leaning towards a woven cloth vs a laminate, but would like the shape retention characteristics of a triradial cut.

The front runner right now is a quote for a triradial sail made with Contender Fibercon Pro Radial cloth.

Does anyone have any experience with this cloth?

Has anyone else bought a new sail recently , and what cloth did you choose?




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if you want a sail that keeps it's shape go laminate. I have been using laminate sail on a furler for years and have found it is not a problem. the newest sail has been on the furler for 5 years and it still looks like new. we use a jib sock to protect from the uv. the sailmakers say the best thing for a laminate sale is to roll them so furling is better then folding.
 

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Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
if you want a sail that keeps it's shape go laminate. I have been using laminate sail on a furler for years and have found it is not a problem. the newest sail has been on the furler for 5 years and it still looks like new. we use a jib sock to protect from the uv. the sailmakers say the best thing for a laminate sale is to roll them so furling is better then folding.
Yeah, the downside is that laminate costs about twice as much. My sailmaker friend says that laminates do not tolerate furling as well as dacron. There is a big difference between rolling a sail neatly by hand and rolling it tight on a furler. That's why I am looking at some of the new woven cloths. Laminate is not off the table, but the cost and durability are big factors.

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I bought new sails from Quantum last season. I went with a cruising weight Dacron (can't recall specifically). I could not be happier. They were not as expensive as I was expecting. Well made, beefy attach points, etc.
 

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Looks like Contender now has three grades/types of woven dacron cloth. All are called Fibercon. There is a value AP, Low and High Aspect for paneled sails, and Pro Radial for radial cut sails. My current headsail was made by Rolly Tasker using Contender High/Low Aspect. It's about 5 years old now and holding up well.
 

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A step up from the Fibercon Pro would be Fibercon Pro Hybrid or DP Hydranet Radial. This would add spectra yarns in the mix and be stronger/less stretch and a bit less weight.

We just ordered new sails and went with North's 3Di. These are molded composite sails, not laminate. They have a dacron version, as well as a dacron/spectra mix (going up the scale, they have kevlar/spectra mix, kevlar/carbon mix, and carbon versions). This would be the ultimate in shape, longevity, and stability. They cost more, but right now the virus situation shut down their entire racing business just before the height of the season and they are cutting deals to bring cruising/recreational boats into these sails.

If North didn't have exclusivity on the 3Di process, laminate sails would probably no longer exist, and woven cloth would be surviving purely on bargain-basement and small boat applications. The composite process is pretty interesting. They spread out individual fibers into wide tapes of whatever fiber is used (dacron, kevlar, carbon, spectra). These aren't just the yarns used in woven sails, they are the individual fibers that make up those yarns - so the tapes consist of linear fibers with no twisting or weave in them. These tapes are impregnated with a heat-set resin and laid out into load paths on the sail so that all fibers are in correct orientation to the loads they will see. The layout can be mixed with different fiber tapes as needed/wanted. Once the sail is formed, it goes under heat and pressure and the resin flows and sets. The result isn't a woven cloth or laminated layers - it is a composite sheet. Similar to the differences between fiberglass (composite), plywood (laminate), and wicker (woven). For the example of using dacron, the sail is a solid sheet of dacron with the fibers laid in the load path directions. You get all the benefits of dacron like lower cost, high durability, no mold, etc, with none of the downsides like bias stretch, stitching, fast loss of shape, etc.

Others are beginning to offer composite sails, but North has exclusivity on using molds to shape them as single continuous sheets with no cutting or stitching. The others cut and broadseam stitch the composite panels like traditional sails. Again, if it wasn't for the exclusivity, and everyone could offer composite cloth and molded sails, I think the days of woven and laminates cloths would be pretty much gone and relegated to the very low end for woven, and specialty racing for laminate.

It does come at a price, however. You will find woven cross-cut dacron the cheapest, with radial dacron probably 50% more, followed by Pro Hybrid/Hydranet at maybe double the cost of cheap dacron, with 3Di probably 50-100% more than Hydranet. But if you are interested, contact North and push for what they can do - their business is 80% racing sails, and this completely shut down on them this year. They are making a big push right now to bring in cruising/recreational customers.

Mark
 

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Yeah, the downside is that laminate costs about twice as much. My sailmaker friend says that laminates do not tolerate furling as well as dacron. There is a big difference between rolling a sail neatly by hand and rolling it tight on a furler. That's why I am looking at some of the new woven cloths. Laminate is not off the table, but the cost and durability are big factors.

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The other downside of laminates on a furler is mold. You are in a wet area, and this would be a concern. Mold only looks bad and is not a structural problem, but who wants to look at a moldy sail. They are also less durable unless a robust taffeta is put on them - at which point they become heavy.

Regarding weight, WeatherMax makes a good pressure-sensitive adhesive cloth. Ask your sailmaker to apply this on the leach and foot for UV cover instead of sewing on Sunbrella. It only comes in limited colors however, so that might be a factor.

Mark
 

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Am I reading correctly that 3Di is 2-3x the cost of a quality dacron sail? If so, I'm not sure I'm seeing it fully absorb the market for dacron on cruising boats.
 

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Am I reading correctly that 3Di is 2-3x the cost of a quality dacron sail? If so, I'm not sure I'm seeing it fully absorb the market for dacron on cruising boats.
Yes to cost, and it won't take the market in the foreseeable future because North has exclusivity and prices it accordingly. My hypothesis was that if everyone had access to dacron composite sheet instead of woven cloth, then woven dacron would be relegated to only budget-bottom applications. If everyone had access to molds, then sewed panel sails would go the same. Prices would come down accordingly, and I suspect more people would be adding spectra/kevlar/carbon to their dacron mix sails because it is so easy to do.

After all, why use the warp/weave fibers (dependent on how it is woven) if their only purpose is to hold a woven cloth together to let the non-crimped fibers take the load, instead of repurposing them to the actual load path so that all fibers contribute to the loads?

Since sewing panels is so labor and skill intensive, computerized tape laying machines would become less expensive overall. The fibers aren't woven on expensive machines, so the "fabric" itself is cheaper.

But for now, there is no other choice for this type of sail, and North is running three large factories in three different countries each working full shifts 24/7/365 and still have a waiting list of several months for a sail. So they have no incentive to lower prices, and prices have actually increased over the past couple of years (that might be industry-wide though).

If one is interested in these sails, right now is a unique time to take advantage of an unexpected opportunity to bargain with them.

Mark
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Am I reading correctly that 3Di is 2-3x the cost of a quality dacron sail? If so, I'm not sure I'm seeing it fully absorb the market for dacron on cruising boats.
Yes, I think the 3Di, like the 3DL before it, will remain in the high-end of the market. The infrastructure required to build the sails is too specialized and expensive to become completely mainstream.

Companies like DP and Challenger continue to develop higher quality woven fabrics that can be used by any sailmaker anywhere in the world. Products we refer to as "dacron" are very different from dacron of 20 years ago. Now we are seeing high tech fibers like Dyneema incorporated into the weave as well.

I already have quotes from North for a dacron crosscut for over cdn$4000, and the triradial laminate is almost cdn$8000. I can't imagine a 3di sail is going to be less than that, but I will ask.

Compare that to the quote I have for a triradial dacron sail from another sailmaker for just over $3000 and it makes it a hard sell to go with North, no matter how much I like their products!

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I already have quotes from North for a dacron crosscut for over cdn$4000, and the triradial laminate is almost cdn$8000. I can't imagine a 3di sail is going to be less than that, but I will ask.
I can't imagine it will be less either, but two differences may help with cost:
1) 3Di is only made in 3 factories that employ thousands of people. Those factories are not running full capacity right now because the virus slammed shut the racing sail production. The woven sails are made locally, or at least in several much larger factories, so there is no delay or wait.
2) Related to #1, the temporary loss of the racing business gave North a lesson that they need to grow and keep the cruising/recreational business. They are willing to accept price breaks to gain customers in this segment. I saw a recent interview with the president of North where he explicitly said that the shutdown of racing exposed a weakness in their business plan, and that cruising/recreational sails were the only business still keeping them going right now. He said they will be making a large effort to gain and retain that business going forward.

Mark
 

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We have a quantum main and Doyle headsail, new last year. Both are good customer service companies

The main is superbly constructed , full battened with bullet proof batten pockets

The 135 jib is a Hydra Net radial headsail with dyneema and Ultra PE fibers woven in a super tight pattern
I would have been happy with the Radial Dacron Hybrid but the Hydra Net came at a very similar price.
I got a large discount as my friend works for them and we ordered two of them at the same time.

I have spent one season with the Doyle. Best sail I’ve ever had, including some laminates. This is our main sail as we don’t race anymore, though we have an older 150 Quantum main for the two light air summer months on the Chessie. The Hyfra Net has robust hardware points well reenforced. Also furling points at 120, 110 and 100.
Her design for our C&C is great as no real loss of shape as we furl it. I bought it because it offered the longevity and stiffness we need. Despite the foam luff it was a ***** the first couple times we rolled it up on the furler , but that’s no issue anymore. It’s a great looking sail too....
 
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I am a little surprised by the prices that are being quoting above. The jib on a 39i should be roughly the same size as mine (maybe 10% bigger). I bought a new jib from Quantum in the last couple years and the prices that you are quoting for dacron seem wildly high.

The sail that I bought from Quantum was a 112% Carbon/dyneema blend (I think but maybe carbon/Twaron). Its a molded string sail (similar to 3DI where each thread is computer placed and then bonded to the skins.). It is structured and protected as a cruising sail with 'liteskin' facings and a stick-on solar cover. It has vertical battens set up for roller furling. That sail was around $4,300. I could have saved maybe a third going to fiber oriented dacron, but the dacron sail would have had a much shorter lifespan, and not have anywhere near the wind range of the higher tech sail (being too heavy weight for light air and too stretchy for heavier air). The new sail has proven to be so good, that I got my boat re-rated without the larger genoas and have remained competitive with just that 112% jib in winds down to 2-3 knots and in races with gusts into the mid-20 knot range.

This is the second of these sails that bought from Quantum. The first was not designed as a cruising sail and so was straight kevlar fiber on mylar skins without the protective skins of the new sail. That sail lasted over 10 years and was in near perfect condition until I got caught in a winds gusting to around 40 knots. (Although rated for winds in the mid-20 knot range) the sail was not damaged by sailing in that wind, but by coming partially unrolled and was cut apart by flogging against the jib sheets that were wrapped around it. (long story for another time.)

I will note that previously I had North sails and they do tend to delaminate much faster than the Quantums, which is one of the reasons why I switched to Quantum. Its been a while since I have had Norths and I understand that their technology has improved, but so has Quantum, so Quantum remains my go-to loft.

I will also note that quite a few major sailmakers have the ability to make molded string sails. I have been racing on a boat that had Elvstrøm's version of a string sail and thought they were nicely made sails.

Jeff
 

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I am a little surprised by the prices that are being quoting above.
His prices were in Canadian Dollars, so $3,000cnd = $2,200usd. Seems like a decent price to me.

I will note that previously I had North sails and they do tend to delaminate much faster than the Quantums, which is one of the reasons why I switched to Quantum. Its been a while since I have had Norths and I understand that their technology has improved, but so has Quantum, so Quantum remains my go-to loft.
North doesn't make the 3DL anymore, and the 3Di is a different beast altogether - it can't delaminate because there are no laminations.

I will also note that quite a few major sailmakers have the ability to make molded string sails. I have been racing on a boat that had Elvstrøm's version of a string sail and thought they were nicely made sails.
Yes, string sails are laminated sails, which everyone does. They are different from North's 3Di, except that both align fibers with loads. I think these laminated sails are made on lamination tables, but not actual molds. I believe North has exclusivity for adjustable molds that are the exact shape of the sail produced on them.

Mark
 

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Discussion Starter #15
So North got back to me with pricing on a 3Di sail. They are offering 20% off all sails right now but require that the old sail gets traded in to get that discount.

A 3Di dacron sail for my boat would be about $7000 with that discount.

So for less than half that price I could have a triradial panelled sail from Evolution.

Unfortunately we no longer have a Quantum loft in Vancouver.

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Someone has to pay to keep the lights on. I thought about the 3DI but the cost is just a bit much. laminated became a bad word so they just used other the words to describe the heat lamination process.
 

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I am a little surprised by the prices that are being quoting above.
His prices were in Canadian Dollars, so $3,000cnd = $2,200usd. Seems like a decent price to me.
Ah! I( missed the Canadian dollar part. That makes a lot more sense price wise. Still, $8,000 CDN ($5,900 USD) still seems excessively high.

I will note that previously I had North sails and they do tend to delaminate much faster than the Quantums, which is one of the reasons why I switched to Quantum. Its been a while since I have had Norths and I understand that their technology has improved, but so has Quantum, so Quantum remains my go-to loft.
North doesn't make the 3DL anymore, and the 3Di is a different beast altogether - it can't delaminate because there are no laminations.
I am aware that North does not make 3DL's any more and that 3DI's are a vast improvement over North's old technology. My understanding of 3DI is that the fibers are set on the mold as a series of tapes with thermoset resin infused to hold the fibers together. Layers of tapes are laid over each other based on the load path then heated to create the finished laminate. On the 'raw' sails, the resin in tapes also form the skin that replaces the premanufactured skins in normal laminated sails. On North's cruising sails, polyester is laminated over the bonded tapes. While conceptually not as prone to delamination, 3DI produces a stiff material that is prone to cracking. At least according to discussion with a racer who claimed to have had a 3DI delaminate, those small cracks starts the process by which is delamination occurs. In fairness I am not a fan of anecdotal sources and so I am not claiming that represents anything like an definitive description of 3DI durability.

I also will say that the laminating techniques and skin design have also improved enormously with all manufacturers. Laminated sails used to be one-two season sails. Even ten years ago the technology allowed them to become 10 season sails (3-4 on the race course).

I will also note that quite a few major sailmakers have the ability to make molded string sails. I have been racing on a boat that had Elvstrøm's version of a string sail and thought they were nicely made sails.
Yes, string sails are laminated sails, which everyone does. They are different from North's 3Di, except that both align fibers with loads. I think these laminated sails are made on lamination tables, but not actual molds. I believe North has exclusivity for adjustable molds that are the exact shape of the sail produced on them
Despite North's marketing, 3DI are still string sails. Instead of yarns and strands being laid individually, 3DI places the fibers on tapes and places layers of the tapes instead. Its still strings, they are just smaller. There are still lamination consisting of the tapes that the fibers are adhered to. To some extent the sail shape still comes from a form of broad-seaming on a smaller scale and fiber layout.

I can't speak for all of the manufacturers but I believe that Quantum and Elvstrøm both uses a variable shape form to mold their string sails. My understanding is that they too use a form of broad-seaming to set the flying shape of the sails. Instead of Mylar or taffeta skins, the cruising sails have a "Light Skin" skin which is an extremely rugged skin that is made the same way that is a skin that is made in a similar manner to the tapes used in 3DI's, fibers are held in an injected matrix. It is my understanding that when Light Skin is made for a laminated sail, the interior face is porous allowing a monolithic bond with the reinforcing filaments and the matrix that holds the strands. I do not see that as an inherently less durable or delamination prone technique but it does produce a sail that is less likely to crack and which is softer to handle.

I think that the reason North can claim to have the only variable shape mold is because North is the only loft using a technique where the fabric is literally made on the molds, vs assembled on the forms.

I know a lot of people love North. I was a long time North guy. I think that the conceptually 3DI should be a good product, and one that is much better than 3DL. These days
I happen to like Quantum better in terms of the products and follow-up that I have gotten from them over the years that they have been my go to. Dealing with Elvstrom here in Annapolis, I certainly feel like the local loft does a great job on customer service and I like the sails that they have produced for the boat that I have been racing on. When I have priced North against Brand 'Q', Brand 'Q' has been a little less expensive and a lot easier to deal with.

Your mileage may vary.....

Respectfully,
Jeff
 

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So North got back to me with pricing on a 3Di sail. They are offering 20% off all sails right now but require that the old sail gets traded in to get that discount.

A 3Di dacron sail for my boat would be about $7000 with that discount.

So for less than half that price I could have a triradial panelled sail from Evolution.

Unfortunately we no longer have a Quantum loft in Vancouver.

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Yowza. Wonder why they want a trade in? Your old sail isn't worth anything to them.

That works out to $CND226/m2 for a discount on dacron 3di (I'm assuming 31m2 for your genoa). We are paying $CND241/m2 for a 3di spectra/kevlar genoa. We are not getting any special deal other than this is the price North came back with recently after we had put them off from the original (pre-covid) quote and were looking at other options. We were also quoted originally (pre-covid) for dacron 3di at $CND195/m2 - $CND6,000 for your sail, which is still expensive, but without discounting.

I'd get back with them and tell them you are getting a triradial from Evolution for half the price and see what they say. Let them work to lose your business.

Mark
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Yowza. Wonder why they want a trade in? Your old sail isn't worth anything to them.

That works out to $CND226/m2 for a discount on dacron 3di (I'm assuming 31m2 for your genoa). We are paying $CND241/m2 for a 3di spectra/kevlar genoa. We are not getting any special deal other than this is the price North came back with recently after we had put them off from the original (pre-covid) quote and were looking at other options. We were also quoted originally (pre-covid) for dacron 3di at $CND195/m2 - $CND6,000 for your sail, which is still expensive, but without discounting.

I'd get back with them and tell them you are getting a triradial from Evolution for half the price and see what they say. Let them work to lose your business.

Mark
My headsail is about 36m2, but yeah North has always been on the pricey side, and I doubt very much they will come anywhere close to the pricing from Evolution. They were out to lunch on spinnaker pricing when I was shopping for those too; Thousands more than the competition. I guess they have enough brand loyal customers that they can get away with it.

It is a shame, because I really like dealing with their loft for service and repairs. I have known their head sailmaker for years, and they give me excellent service and good pricing on mods and repairs.

I think I will reach out to a couple more lofts and see what kind of pricing they offer. There is a UK loft on the island, and perhaps I will see what Ballard down in Seattle has to offer, although I am not sure what kind of tariffs I would have to deal with as a result of the Trump trade war...

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While conceptually not as prone to delamination, 3DI produces a stiff material that is prone to cracking. At least according to discussion with a racer who claimed to have had a 3DI delaminate, those small cracks starts the process by which is delamination occurs.
I can see that stiffness and cracking for the racing sails, which are all carbon. Ours will be spectra with some kevlar, so the modulus should be lower and the sail softer. I've sailed and handled this version and it didn't seem cracking stiff - not really any stiffer than a new dacron sail, but also not getting any softer than that with age.

I know a lot of people love North. I was a long time North guy. I think that the conceptually 3DI should be a good product, and one that is much better than 3DL. These days
I happen to like Quantum better in terms of the products and follow-up that I have gotten from them over the years that they have been my go to. Dealing with Elvstrom here in Annapolis, I certainly feel like the local loft does a great job on customer service and I like the sails that they have produced for the boat that I have been racing on. When I have priced North against Brand 'Q', Brand 'Q' has been a little less expensive and a lot easier to deal with.

Your mileage may vary.....
It might seem like I'm now a North fan boy, but I don't mean (or want) to be. They were not our first choice because of price, but we definitely did not want dacron cross-cut, nor laminate sails. I looked hard at the new laminates, but they still have problems in hot, humid environments being used like we use sails. This left us looking at dacron radial and Hydranet, with dacron radial really not the best cloth for our application (catamaran with very large mainsail). We were going with Hydranet until North came back and worked for our business. We are still paying more, but getting a spectra/kevlar instead of a dacron/spectra sail, as well as being molded and half the weight.

As for working with North, that is probably an individual loft thing. This is the third sailmaker we have worked with, and by far the best experience (so far). All others just took some basic rig measurements like length of boom and height of mast, I explained exactly the finishing I wanted done, then they went away for awhile until they showed up later with sails that weren't finished to my specification and needed several rounds of modification to get close to, but not exactly, what we asked for. These were major sailmakers, not local lofts.

North came and spent 2hrs measuring things I didn't even know needed measuring. Some of it didn't even seem related to sails. They established reference points all over the boat, and made sure that they were all symmetrical. They measured angles, lengths, drops, offsets, widths and circumferences, and other esoterica. Then I get CAD drawings of my rig and boat, as well as preliminary drawings of the sails connected to it. After discussing some details and fine points, they refine the drawings and send 3-dimensional drawings, where I can rotate, twist, zoom, and any other thing I want to see how the sails set, the draft positions, the built-in twist, the luff curve, the reef positions, etc. The files are all in adjustable layers, so I can see solid forms, wire forms, remove any part of the rig or sail that is interfering with the view, etc. Then they call to discuss all of this with me to make sure everything meets criteria and fits our boat before moving to production.

That's where we stand right now, so I can't speak to the rest of the process yet. I've received several calls asking me to remeasure a couple of specific small details like batten car length to check they are correct, as well as send a couple of pictures of something so they can understand it better.

So far we are happy working with them, and how they treat us. Much, much better than the other two major lofts we have worked with in the past. On the other hand, for the price, they should be sending us caviar and champagne too...

Mark
 
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