Hi Karl, talk to Hasse & her crew at Port Townsend Sails
(Port Townsend, WA). Her stuff's legendary for a reason, plus she & co are great to talk to, & even better to visit if you've got the time.
One heads up, their sails
are pricey. And it's been a bit since I talked to them, but as of last check, some folks would take in their production sails to her loft, & have the loft beef them up/give the little detail areas some TLC so that they'd last longer under the wear & tear of cruising.
When I say production, I mean off the shelf, very basic sails, both cloth & especially detail work. Domestic & Foreign.
And as a plan B, if funds are tight, you can always pick up something that's been gently pre-loved, & have it re-cut &, or beefed up, to your specs.
As to handling (qualities of the cloth), I wouldn't sweat it too much. It's 98% technique. Like for me, despite being REAL rusty, I'd be comfortable taking down/handling any headsail on a 50'er (in a foil or free flying), given anyone brighter than a monkey handling the halyard
. Even full on Mylar. It just takes a bit of practice, & like riding a bicycle...
I'll stay from talking laminates, given your comments. But a lot of them are really good. If you look up some of my other postings, you'll see where dockhead, one of the mod's is looking at new sails for his Moody 54. He's thinking laminates, & the sailmaker
is talking 20,000+ miles out of them.
Back to Dacron, yes, after a while, tri-radials more or less do what you're saying. As to how long, that's a question of their quality to begin with, & how hard you push them.
With standard crosscuts, yep, a nip & a tuck is often an option. Provided that the sails have been kept out of the UV enough so that they'll still have life left after a "face lift". That & that they were good cloth to begin with.