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Old 04-09-2012, 14:49   #1
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Advice for Replacing Sail Wardrobe on My Cat

Hi all,
My sails from Incidence has now reached the ripe old age of 11 years and need replacement to prevent more motoring.
I have friends with catamarans from FP, the Mahe 36 and they have chosen a larger roach main and fat head mains. Both are happy with their choice.

I believe that a fathead is a racing sail rather than a cruising sail and my preference is for a conventional main, but with alarger roach than the standard sail provided from Incidence. Question is - how much roach and increased sail area of the main is practical in terms of the balance of the boat? Any advise would be appreciated.

The material they selected are a laminate type, which is strong and UV protected with a thin dacron outer protection layer. Can someone confirm if this is the optimal cruiaing sail for Uv protection and also for maintaing the sail shape? The pure dacron looses it shape too fast in my opinion and paying that
bit extra could be a good investment if the sails keep their shape a few years longer.

Would it be wise to use different materials in the genoa and the main? The
headsail is your main engine on a tack and could be of a more exotic material than the main

If some out there has knowledge they would want to share I would appreciate your response. As my Belize 43 is a cat I would especially like response from someone with experience from cats.

Happy lead free sailin
Lucky
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Old 04-09-2012, 16:54   #2
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Re: Advice for Replacing sail warderobe on my cat

Regardless, of the sail cut choice I suggest avoiding fancy materials like laminates for a cruising boat -- especially if you intend to venture far from the waters of a developed country. They are great for sail shape of course, but if they need any significant repair then finding the skills and materials to make those repairs properly in remote locations is not likely (if in fact the damage can realistically be repaired, rather than the sail just replaced, at all).

I've encountered a few cruisers along the way struggling with exactly this issue -- how to fix their damaged or de-laminated laminate sail in a remote place.

The advantage to less exotic materials like good ol' dacron, is that the materials and the skills to repair them are much more widely available.
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Old 04-09-2012, 16:58   #3
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Re: Advice for Replacing sail warderobe on my cat

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Originally Posted by belizesailor View Post
Regardless, of the sail cut choice I suggest avoiding fancy materials like laminates for a cruising boat -- especially if you intend to venture far from the waters of a developed country. They are great for sail shape of course, but if they need any significant repair then finding the skills and materials to make those repairs properly in remote locations is not likely (if in fact the damage can realistically be repaired, rather than the sail just replaced, at all).

I've encountered a few cruisers along the way struggling with exactly this issue -- how to fix their damaged or de-laminated laminate sail in a remote place.

The advantage to less exotic materials like good ol' dacron, is that the materials and the skills to repair them are much more widely available.


Stick with Dacron for cruising. I just ordered new sails (dacron) after eight years with the original sails which were of dubious quality.
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Old 04-09-2012, 17:03   #4
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Re: Advice for Replacing sail warderobe on my cat

G'Day Lucky,

I second the advice of Belizesailor. Not only is there a repair issue with hi-tech sailcloth, but despite the adverts, the laminates don't seem to hold up nearly as long as good dacron. I doubt if there are any 11 year old laminate sails out cruising'

If longevity is not an issue, and price unimportant, then the superior performance of laminates is a great thing.

You might try pulsing Island Planet who posts regularly here on CF. He has given good and very professional advice on these subjects for other posters.

Cheers,

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Old 05-09-2012, 07:39   #5
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Re: Advice for Replacing sail warderobe on my cat

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...but despite the adverts, the laminates don't seem to hold up nearly as long as good dacron. I doubt if there are any 11 year old laminate sails out cruising'...
Don't have overall statistics on this so don't know how the numbers actually stack up, but I met a guy last year who was about a year into a planned circumnavigation, he had been convinced to outfit with laminates, sail was already delaminating, and provisional repairs were not holding, vendor was not really stepping up to the plate, so he was stuck in BFE trying to figure out how to get a new main.
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Old 05-09-2012, 10:35   #6
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Re: Advice for Replacing Sail Wardrobe on My Cat

Jim,

Thank you for the kind words.

Lucky,

For a monohull, selecting Dacron is a pretty easy decision, especially if the boat isn't too large, say up to the mid 40's give or take. With a cruising catamaran, things are a bit different. The loads on a multihull sail are much higher than on a monohull. When we're out sailing our 46' ketch and a gust hits, the loads from the sail are transferred to the hull via the rigging and we heel a bit more. Cats don't heel and the cruising cats don't accelerate that fast so the loads hit the sail more than they do on a monohull. Thus the advice we offer the customer with the 43' Beneteau regarding sailcloth is a lot different than what we suggest to the owner of a 43' cat.

Cruising laminates are a very mature technology and a high quality double taffeta load path sail can offer 8-10 years of very reliable service. Dacron, on the other hand, may survive structurally but lose shape early on. On a catamaran sail made with Dacron, we have to use a heavier cloth than we would with a monohull and twin-plying the leech is almost mandatory. You end up with a very heavy sail. On a big boat, that difference in weight can exceed 100 lbs. That's a lot more weight aloft as well.

Regarding the fathead, I would not recommend it unless you're going with a laminate. Any time someone wants to go with a fathead main, my first question will be what kind of track system is installed. In some cases we will need to make some hardware changes. We built a carbon-technora main for a 47' cat a couple of years ago. I think the headboard for that sail cost us about $500. So there will be expenses in addition to the differences in the sail itself and loads on the hardware have to be taken into account. One popular brand of track was installed on a particular brand of catamaran. The builder opted to outfit the boats with fathead mains. The head cars kept pulling out of the track due to the extreme loads. Subsequently the track manufacturer designed a different head car.
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Old 05-09-2012, 15:15   #7
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Re: Advice for Replacing Sail Wardrobe on My Cat

IslandPlanet, thanks for the post.

What is your perspective regarding repair of laminate sails? Especially in remote locations?
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Old 06-09-2012, 10:07   #8
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Re: Advice for Replacing Sail Wardrobe on My Cat

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Originally Posted by belizesailor View Post
IslandPlanet, thanks for the post.

What is your perspective regarding repair of laminate sails? Especially in remote locations?
If the main is done right, it's pretty bulletproof. The likely causes of damage will be chafe or crew error. Electric winches can do a lot of damage if someone isn't paying attention. Chafe is easy enough to prevent. We could put together a pretty decent repair kit. With reasonable precaution, it's unlikely you would need to do anything to the sail other than renewing spreader patches. And if you're a good sailor and keep the sail off the spreaders, it's a non-issue.

We have seen some pretty dramatic failures of laminate sails but none of them have been a huge surprise. One very popular technology from one of the largest lofts is very prone to failures because their manufacturing process makes the underlying mylar very brittle. It's been a known problem for years.

Our larger load path sails (MXL wide panel) have a very refined manufacturing process. In fact, we have a 3 year warranty program which is pretty unique for a load path laminate.

Finding a sailmaker in remote areas can be a challenge. If you're sailing off the usual cruising routes, you need to be self sufficient in all regards. If I owned a cat or larger monohull, I wouldn't even consider Dacron due to weight and stretch potential.

If you really don't want to go laminate but want excellent stretch resistance, you could go with Radial Hydranet which is a woven with Spectra. The only issue with that that product is it's quite expensive and you get a bit of creep. Still it might be worth considering if you want something that's easy to repair.
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Old 06-09-2012, 10:21   #9
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Re: Advice for Replacing Sail Wardrobe on My Cat

I would stick with more forgiving dacron .... especially on a cat where loads are so high. re: Roach... it's all about your particular boat balance. The big roach does give a lot of drive though. I wonder if you went with a fat top sail if you could lessen the need for battens? The full batten ball car system on my cat was very heavy.....
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Old 06-09-2012, 22:37   #10
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Re: Advice for Replacing Sail Wardrobe on My Cat

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I would stick with more forgiving dacron .... especially on a cat where loads are so high. re: Roach... it's all about your particular boat balance. The big roach does give a lot of drive though. I wonder if you went with a fat top sail if you could lessen the need for battens? The full batten ball car system on my cat was very heavy.....
Actually the loads are what makes Dacron undesirable for this application. I would recommend against the fat head in Dacron. Typically 2 additional battens are required for a fathead. The weight of the cars aren't the issue. It's the weight of Dacron.
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Old 07-09-2012, 06:06   #11
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Re: Advice for Replacing Sail Wardrobe on My Cat

I'm thinking a radial cut headsail with a foam roll forward towards the forestay and a crosscut la°rger roach main. Main to be increased from 67 to 73 m2. Both sails in dacron. Does this sound like a durable efficient set up or should i go with a more exotic cloth?

For visibility forward the Admiral want a window in the headsail. Size probably around 1,5m2. Is this practical from a point of maintaining sailshape?

As beforeyour comments are all valuble to me.

Happy lead free sailin
Lucky
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Old 07-09-2012, 15:16   #12
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Re: Advice for Replacing Sail Wardrobe on My Cat

Lucky,

We don't like to see headsails routinely reefed, especially on a catamaran. Ordinarily our strategy for a cruising cat is a headsail that is either unfurled completely or rolled up. For lighter air, we'll use screechers, gennakers, etc. The headsail is relatively small so the difference in price between a good load path sail and radial Dacron is pretty small. So I'd lean towards something I could be 100% confident in which would be the load path sail. If you did go radial Dacron, there's a 10.11oz WarpDrive that we could use.

If you want to go fathead on the main, you really need to invest in the proper material. Dacron is going to be a disappointment and it's going to be over 100 pounds more weight, possibly well over 100.

Success with the window will depend on where exactly it gets installed. I've never had anyone request one in a cruising cat headsail. Tell me a bit about the current headsail. Is it the original one that came with the boat? The ones I see in the factory sail plan look like they have a high enough clew for visibility. From where on the boat are you having visibility issues?
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Old 09-09-2012, 10:23   #13
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Re: Advice for Replacing Sail Wardrobe on My Cat

For what it's worth - maybe very little as I'm a monosailor - I'm going with load path sails, which my wife is giving me for Christmas this year .

If you replace your Dacron sails before they're completely knackered, you can keep them in reserve - obviating the repair issue. Dacron sails start losing their shape the first day at sea. That's not what I want.

If like most cruisers you never go upwind, then you won't care - Dacron will be good both new and later. But I like ( ) to go upwind. Preferably fast.

YMMV.
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Old 15-09-2012, 01:53   #14
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Re: Advice for Replacing Sail Wardrobe on My Cat

IslandPlanet,
Your advise as I get it is to use a smaller headsail than original for upwind sailing and a screecher for reaching and downwind sailing in moderate winds. Up here in Scandinavia we tend to get a lot of wind and that's why I want a headsail that is suitable for reefing.
My sails are the standard cross cut sails from Incidence deliverd with the boat when new in 2001.
To see foreward from the helm is difficult when the headsail is rolled out, the clew sits directly above the roller, hence you cannot see under the sail.
Would it be worth spending my money on a smaller radial cut headsail in laminate and add a screecher and keep my old mainsail?

Advise appreciated as always.
Happy lead free sailin
Lucky
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Old 15-09-2012, 10:13   #15
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Re: Advice for Replacing Sail Wardrobe on My Cat

Lucky,
Most of the modern cats get the bulk of the power out of the main. I'd rather see you tuck a reef in the main than spend a lot of time sailing with a reefed headsail. It's really inefficient and hard on the sail. I'm going to talk with a colleague who is highly experienced with cats and has probably logged close to 100K miles on them to get some input from him.
As for visibility it sounds like the clew height was kept low. That could have been done in consideration of sheeting angles. Usually a furling sail will have the clew higher than the tack just so it furls better.
Your cat is the Belize 43, correct?

Cheers,
Dave
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