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Jeremy,

For local club racing for a new sailor I would recommend staying at the cheap end of things. So a decent quality Dacron crosscut sail. But I will go thru some options...

Laminates - much lighter, much stronger, a lot more expensive, won't last as long
Tri-cut radial Dacron - stronger, lasts longer, almost the same price as a laminate. Primarily used for boats who race one design and are restricted by rule from using laminates. Or cruisers who want max performance.

Think of it this way....

All sails come out of the box with the perfect sail shape...
Cross cuts loose the most sail shape the fastest, and by 2-3 years old won't be competitive
Tri-radials loose shape slower, but at a significant price premium. Figure 4-5 years till junk
Laminates never change shape, but the laminate is UV damaged after a year.


At the early years of a boats racing career there are a lot of places to spend money to make it go faster, sails are just one place. Unless you have the budget to drop more than the boat is worth on performance upgrades a crosscut is fine, and you get to save money for other things. Like a new bottom, folding prop, deck hardware, ect... All of which can help as much as a new sail but will be with you for longer.
 

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Making a furler roll up a larger sail is child's play. They will wind forever, you just have to have a long enough furling line to do so.

If the drum gets full of line while you still have sail out then your furling line is to large. We go with a 1/8" dyneema cord for the first 35' spliced end for end spliced into sta-set for a larger hand on the last few feet. Upside is it's cheaper than a solid sta-set, downside you have to learn to do a pretty easy splice.
 

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Alex,

I specifically didn't mention them, since I have seen very mixed reviews on them so far. It is a technology that is coming, but is just don't feel comfortable recommending it yet.

The longest lasting sail I know of that is still in racing shape is the North 3DI carbon dyneema sails. One of the racing J-35's here in New Orleans bought a main from this stuff in 2007 and it is still going strong. But wow was it expensive. About triple the price of a 3DL.

It's used the same UV tech as the cruising laminates, so there is real promise to them, but it is still an unknown.


Frankly a new owner, new boat, club racing... I would go with cross cut Dacron, use it for three years and then decide if you want to go with high end racing sails. A laminate cruiser, carbon, ect... If he ends up not liking racing, then he will have sunk a lot of money into sails that have no residual value.
 
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