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Thread: What sails do you prefer?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
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    Default What sails do you prefer?

    Single-handed racing is completely different from crewed racing. I believe the requirements for sails are different as well.
    What are the different opinions regarding the right sail for the job.

    I feel that consistency in speed is key. Sails that keep their shape no matter what I throw at them is what I look for. My first set of sails for Xpression with the purpose of single-handed racing was UK carbon tape drives with taffeta on one site. I must say that the sails were fast and the durability was good. However the base materials started stretching between the tapes after a while.

    I just ordered a Matrix FL main and 125% jib from UK. This is a aramid base with taffeta on both sides. I believe the durability will be even better than the tape drives, including shape retention. They are heavier but I don't think that really impacts the performance sailing single-handed.

    I would love to hear other folks opinions in what works for you as a single-handed sailor...

    Dirk
    C&C 110 - Xpression

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Posts
    250

    Default Happy with Doyle

    I'm sure everyone has their own loft alliances, so here is mine.

    I bought new stratis sails the last two years and have been very happy with the quality and service. Now, for my boat and the racing I do, I went for the pure race sails, no taffeta.

    I think you can specify the weight (density) of the sail and go a heavier on the yarn, reducing the amount of unsupported laminate. Add single or double taffeta and you can build a pretty bulletproof sail.

    I have been racing on Ocelot for a few years now and that mainsail still looks fantastic after significant abuse and it doesn't have taffeta either.

    If I were doing ocean sailing singlehanded I would probably go for double taffeta on the main. Not sure about the jib though, best to chat with your sailmaker...

    Happy shopping

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
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    3,277

    Default

    Most of my sails are North's 600 series (Kevlar 3DL) with taffeta on both sides. My #1 genoa has single-sided taffeta. I'm on my second set after eight years - they're pretty bullet-proof. I would not recommend carbon for what we're doing - it can't take the beating Kevlar yarns will. A well-made Ullman carbon #1 started coming apart after two seasons. Singlehanders aren't often kind to headsails.

    Features to consider: With an offshore main you should get a leech cord you can adjust at the mast (it goes over a tiny sheave on the headboard and back down). I also had larger reefs put in than stock - instead of three little ones I have two larger ones. I went up one grade on the yarn content for both mains and jibs - I think this is also why they last so well. On the #3 jibs, vertical battens result in the best leech shape (with a furler) but well-and-truly suck for single-handed headsail changes. Also for headsails, a tick higher clew height will give you better visibility for singlehanding and will make the sails a bit easier to trim.

    I first got sold a full PHRF main (roachy, too full), but the second time I made sure I got a flatter sail that didn't hang up on the backstay and could take more breeze without crew on the rail. Same for the #3 - the first one was too full. Don't just let them spec out the standard cuts for your boat - you have to tell them what you want.
    Last edited by BobJ; 06-03-2011 at 09:47 PM.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
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    194

    Default

    I went with Quantum Fusion M (Their cheap string sails) about 6 years ago for my Laser 28 and they are just now starting to die. Top full batten for the main and battens for the 110 hank on jib. The only problem is they are heavy. I have a reef point on the jib which I like a lot. When I get the money I'm thinking of a lighter Kevlar full batten main and furler for the jib with those new roll up battens.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
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    423

    Default Tiger Beetle sails

    I went with spectra as the sail material of choice for laminate sails, and woven dacron/vectran for the vertically loaded sails (mainsail, headsail 100% LP or less). I've broken sails built of kevlar, carbon, and 3DL is built too light and the mylar gets torn.

    So I went for durability over weight, and have over-built spectra laminate sails with taffeta each side from Hood (I highly recommend Robin Sodaro in Sausalito).

    For the mainsail I went with Hood's Vectron woven cloth (dacron to set the shape, with woven-in vectran strands to carry the load), and it's worked out very well. Also used the same cloth for the no. 4. So I'd recommend vectron for sails without a lot of bias load - e.g., cross-cut mainsail, and cross-cut headsails of 100% LP or less.

    There are a lot of details in the sails - I don't know how far you want to get into it, but things like Bob J mentioned - leech cord over the top so leech can be adjusted at the gooseneck, etc.

    And sausage bags are a great thing!

    - rob/beetle

  6. #6
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    Default Leech line

    Great suggestion to run the mainsail leech line to the mast. I never considered that option. I will ask my sail maker to add that to my new main.

    Thanks for the feedback. I know one can discuss sails all day long. However it's great to hear the preferences and experiences from single-handed sailors.

    Dirk - Xpression

  7. #7
    pogen's Avatar
    pogen is offline Sailing canoe "Kūʻaupaʻa"
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    Default

    Well I recently purchased a new Doyle main, Stratis mixed aramid/carbon with no taffeta. I decided against taffeta in consideration of the extra weight/stiffness and ease of handling. It is a max PHRF sail and does hang up a bit on the backstay in light air. I didn't think or know to ask about fullness of cut, that is a good suggestion of BobJ's, as it is more important to be able to power down easily and fully when you are shorthanded, especially around here where strong wind is the norm. I have 2 reefs, the 2nd being quite deep.

    An important consideration was getting slugs for the luff. Previously, I had luff rope, and it was such a pain getting the sail on and off -- and rolling it up at the end of the day. The slugs are Bainbridge with flanges on both inside the slot and outside. They took a little working in (and a few trips up the mast to slather on the McLube), but now they work great. I also put on lazyjacks at the same time as the new main, so life is a lot calmer when we douse the main.

    The next thing to consider is converting the headsails to hanks. Right now I have a suit of old-ish headsails all with luff rope, and a twin-foil TuffLuff on the headstay. Great when you have a bowperson or even DH, and you can do peels with it, but a potential adventure to raise sail from bare headed in a breeze. What to people have for jib attachments? Or are there clever ideas of how to set the jib without it going overboard first?

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
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    Talking Go with hanks

    On Constellation I use hanks for the headsails for a couple of reasons: They can't fail catastrophically, it's much easier to get the sail up & down without shrimping, and ***I don't lose 2 feet of luff length ***which I would with a furler and is a big deal for a boat that should have a taller rig to start with. Permanently reefed even so.

    I have noticed over the years a few other boats/skippers using hanks: Commodore Tompkins on Flashgirl, Stan Honey's Illusion, I think Skip also had them on Wildflower...

    Sail changes are slow but I know I can get it done. Foil or furler, not so sure if the wind gets up, really up. It's a safe, reliable system.

    One thing that really helps: years ago I made a sausage bag that lives semi-permanently on the rail, with ties inside and out, of Sunbrella so it can take the sun and protect the sail (my #3 is my only high tech sail, the rest are dacron) The #3 lives there with its long battens, or when offshore any sail can go in the bag. Might even be nice to have one each side. Contact your local canvas shop (ahem).

    I spent 18 years in the sailmaking business (14 as sail designer/production mgr. at DeWitt and then Sobstad) before opening the canvas shop and hank repairs were extremely rare. Good money in replacing torn luff tapes though.

    Tom

  9. #9
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    Sep 2007
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    Default Both!

    A project just completed is a removable inner stay for RAGTIME! to take hanked-on headsails. Like most J Boats, the stock setup is a Harken furler.

    To keep it light I used 6mm Dynex Dux and it's led via two part tackle to a cabintop winch for tensioning. It gets plenty tight - more than the headstay.

    I had an older #3 converted to hanks and recut to use on the stay, and can use my #4 on either stay (using softhanks on the inner stay). With some planning I should never need to go bald-headed for a headsail change.

    Other benefits are the hanked-on sails can use horizontal battens (see my post above about the verticals) so they can be flaked into a deck bag without taking the battens out, and the jibs can have a conventional reef (see Jonathan's post).

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
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    Default re: Both!

    Ooo... Bob, nice! I'm envious. I have been architecting in my mind how to rig an inner stay on Culebra. Curious... to oppose the forward force on the mast at the top of the stay do you use check stays/runners, or just depend on the reefed main via its leech and mainsheet? Culebra has check stays, which is nice. How did you reinforce the area of the mast where the stay attaches? This is my primary concern, actually... impossible to get inside the mast right there. I'm thinking some kind of collar.

    Okay, back to the thread on sails...

    Depends on what the sail is for. I'm assuming you mean for offshore. I went to hanks too. Same reasons as stated above. And taffeta, yes, one side for my new #2, Fusion MX Technora, from Quantum. After several thousand miles on that sail, it's hard to believe, it's almost like new. But I treat it well. I agree, shape is highest importance. Hard to beat laminates with load "yarns" for that, so for the headsail I stuck with a laminate. But a beefy one. (Totally agree with Rob's assessment on North's mylar.) And this sail really works. It's super durable, retains shape in a huge wind range, and very easy to control (125%). I did get it cut with a relatively hollow leech... no battens. I hate battens in jibs. And I gave it a higher clew to fare better in messy seas, not deck swept, and not overly high. Incidentally, in contrast, my #4 is standard heavy Dacron cross cut, no battens.

    For the main, I went with a totally different kind of Quantum product, actually a Dimension cloth called Hydra Net 350. It is Dacron, but it contains Dyneema yarns in a rectangular pattern (hence the "net") spaced about 5mm apart. It's actually part of the Dacron weave. Cross cut. Like Bob, I have a little sheave at the head for the leech cord. I also use full battens. At the mast end of each batten is a Sailman 3000 Universal Joint. No track. Slugs. In choosing this Hydra Net material I'm experimenting. I want longer life than I have gotten in laminate fabrics, and the claim is that they still retain shape. On my boat the jib gets less abuse than the main. In the ocean I don't play tacking duels, don't have a foredeck crew to step on the sail, don't cram the headsail down a hatch, etc. The main is reefed frequently, sometimes luffs too much when I've chosen not to reef, bangs across when gybing (full battens), etc. So the for the main I wanted a cloth that could stand up to abuse. We'll see.

    Paul/Culebra

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