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Old 30-11-2014, 00:34   #1
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Materials in Triradial Cut Main

I am about to replace my 56 square meter high aspect mainsail on my 40ft (12m) cat and have received conflicting advice on whether I can use woven Dacron for a triradial cut. Neither Contender or Challenge recommend any of their clothes for a triradial catamaran main this big though some lofts seem more than willing to recommend them. (Challenge has Warp Drive sailcloth that they do recommend for a mainsail of this size but not in high UV climates where we are sailing.) Dimension recommends using Pro Radial for a sail like this and Bainbridge has Ocean Premium Plus High Aspect but it is not clear that the Bainbridge cloth should be used in a tri-radial cut main. Hydra Net and similar cloths are out of my price range and I have had bad experiences with laminates so they are not options.

So is there anyone who has experience with mid size triradial mainsails made of woven Dacron and how has it stood up over the years?

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Old 30-11-2014, 02:28   #2
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re: Materials in Triradial Cut Main

Hi it may not help but I am very pleased will my Hydranet main 96sqm on a 15m cat in Sydney been raced and cruised and still looks like new.

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Old 01-12-2014, 01:06   #3
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Re: Does anyone have any experience with using polyester for a triradial cut main?


Our experience may not apply to you at all, so i'm a bit hesitant to reply. However, we have had dacron sails on our monohulls, tri-radial mainsails. With plied leeches. And were satisfactory, but not terribly long lived. At the time those sails were made, we were able to get dacron cloth that was "stronger" in one direction, than the other, so, when the cloth was cut, the stronger part went in the vertical dimension.

This has been a while ago, so I don't know if such dacron is available any more.

Our new mains'l is spectra, called hydranet, and it was carefully cut from seconds, but it, too is a tri-radial cut. It is only 2 yrs. old, but performs nicely, as the sailmaker promised.

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Old 01-12-2014, 22:32   #4
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Re: Materials in Triradial Cut Main

Ann - Do you remember the name the material or manufacturer? Even the year they were made would help?

Crosscut polyester sails are reported to be the most durable but they loose their shape a little more quickly apparently than polyester radials. Dimension-Polyant says Hydra Net come next with triradial polyesters 3rd and laminates last. But there is a huge increased cost associated with Hydra Net - about 50% more according to bids I've gotten.
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Old 02-12-2014, 00:08   #5
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Re: Materials in Triradial Cut Main

I think probably -- ask your sailmaker! -- a tri-radial main for a cat is more demanding on the sailcloth because there's little heel to absorb gusts. So normal Dacron can certainly be used, but will likely bag out fairly quickly.

I'm just in the process of having a tri-radial main made for my large mono. Here again, because of the size of the sail, Dacron is possible (the old one was) but is not really recommended. Hydranet is as expensive as laminate and gets mixed reviews (many loves, but many others who say that it behaves just like Dacron).

Laminates have gotten much better in recent years -- why not go with that? I'm using a carbon-fiber and Vectran reinforced laminate. The cloth is autoclaved, not just glued, and apparently impervious to delamination. It is made in the US and not the Far East, but it is no more expensive than Hydranet and is only about double the cost of really good Dacron.

If you do go with Dacron, keep in mind that it comes in very, very different quality grades. The good stuff is not cheap. The cheap stuff will not hold its shape like the good stuff. And beyond a certain size sail, even good Dacron is not really going to hold its shape.
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Old 02-12-2014, 01:55   #6
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Re: Materials in Triradial Cut Main

Sail makers have different opinions too. I had one recommend Bainbridge Ocean Premium Plus for a triradial cut main. When I called Bainbridge they said the cloth was only designed for cross cut. I had another internationally known loft recommend a Contender Premium Radial Cloth which Contender literature says my main is too big for. I then called Contender and they essentially repeated what their literature said.

To make matter worse I'm in Turkey so there a language barrier and importing a sail from outside makes it subject to VAT and duty equal to 30% not including agent fees.

My current main is a laminate and I got 3.5 seasons out of it. Aside from the fatal error of turning to tissue paper and blowing out, it also had a major mildew problem. Something that every laminate I've owned seems vulnerable to in hot climates. The workmanship was great but the cloth could not handle 6 month long seasons of serious cruising. So I am trying to walk a line between shape and durability.

At this point the only cloth that's available to me here, designed to do the job, seems to be Dimension Polyant Pro Radial but I have very little feedback on it.

I agree with you though there many varieties of polyester and the good ones are not cheap.
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Old 04-12-2014, 04:15   #7
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Re: Materials in Triradial Cut Main

Radial cut dacron seems to be mostly a marketing thing for the cruising market. Hydra-net radial is about the only woven fabric that works really well in a radial configuration.
There are virtually no race yacht classes that when restricted to dacron use radial cuts. The closest it gets in a radial clew with cross cut body. Like this: Young 88 New Zealand Nationals
Don't waste your money, use a high quality cross cat fabric like Challenge Mablehead or Dimension Polyant AP with 2 ply leech and properly sized corner patching.

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