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Old 15-07-2015, 12:18   #1
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New Sails

Before starting back towards the UK from the Eastern Gulf of Finland, I put up my new carbon fiber mainsail, which I had been saving for the whole trip over here since we were sailing downwind the whole time. There was no point in putting 1500 miles on it for nothing, when the old main would do fine.

So I am now savoring sailing with a complete new set of sails – first time in my life. I have always had old sails on all of my boats, and have simply never known what new sails are like, other than on dinghies in my sordid dinghy racing youth.

I had hoped that sailing with new sails would be wonderful – and if I hadn’t, I certainly wouldn’t have invested the considerable amount of cash required. But it is wonderful really more than I expected, and in so many ways.

The best news about the new main is that the vertical battens work fine (so far!) with my in-mast furling. This was a risk since reports are very much mixed on this, and in-mast furling problems are ghastly. The laminate sails are thinner and lighter than the old Dacron ones, and roll up easier. The battens – which are thin carbon fiber rods – go right in and out of the mast slot without any problem. Maybe that’s the secret – is making the battens very thin, with well-constructed pockets.

I expected that the boat would be much faster upwind with the new sails, but didn’t expect all that much on other points of sail. I’ve heard over and over again that baggy old sails won’t hurt you off the wind, but this is not true. Not only do they work superbly upwind, but on all other points of sail as well. Even dead downwind – I can shape the mainsail to present its full area to the wind, something I couldn’t do before. And not only upwind, but on a reach as well, there is dramatically less heeling – I mean dramatically. Where I would have the rail in the water and need to reef, now the boat is only heeling 10 or 15 degrees, and is flying through the water.

I have not yet hoisted the new yankee, and am regretting that I ever ordered it. The blade works superbly at wind speeds even much lower than I could use the old dacron yankee in. The light wind performance is amazing compared to the old sails. On a reach in single-digit wind, that is, wind, which I just couldn’t sail in before, I am getting speeds of 2/3 or more the true wind speed. Motor sailing has become quite amazing –a broad reach in 5 knots of true wind becomes a close reach at 6 to 7 knots with the engine just ticking over at 1200 rpm. And yet I can use the blade without reefing up to about 30 knots apparent, and with remarkably little heel (if it is correctly trimmed).

Sailing has also become much more fun and interesting. The new sails can be made into a huge variety of shapes, and are exquisitely sensitive to all of the controls. Proper application of the vang on a broad reach just added almost a knot, just a while ago. The downside is that the new sails profit so much from very fine adjustments to trim, that I find myself trimming them constantly now, instead of “set and forget” as before. I now have complete control over the twist of both sails, to get the air flowing over them both above and below, something I really couldn’t do before. I can make the main so flat that it “goes to sleep” – something I never thought I would experience on a cruising boat. The non-overlapping blade does not interfere with the mainsail, so the main is always working now – no “speed bubble”, no backwinding. The wind from the jib now flows straight back over the main, instead of ramming into it, and seems to produce more lift. The new main also does NOT have the horrible hollow leech, which is the price of in-mast furling – the leech is straight, help up by the battens. So not only does the front part of it work (due to non-interference from the jib), but there’s more there there at the leech, and so far more drive altogether from the new main, than I ever got from the old one.

Why are new sails so expensive? Because they’re worth it!
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Old 15-07-2015, 12:38   #2
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Re: New Sails

So......you're happy with them?
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Old 15-07-2015, 12:45   #3
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Re: New Sails

Great post, thank you.

I wonder if this experience has been mirrored by others who have also purchased new sails?
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Old 15-07-2015, 12:48   #4
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Re: New Sails

Yeah, it's completely the most irrational and the best thing you can do for your sailing pleasure. I bought three sails that altogether cost almost 20% of what I had initially paid for my boat.

I still wince when remembering the expense and baby those sails all the time, but have not once regretted it
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Old 15-07-2015, 12:54   #5
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Re: New Sails

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dockhead View Post
Before starting back towards the UK from the Eastern Gulf of Finland, I put up my new carbon fiber mainsail, which I had been saving for the whole trip over here since we were sailing downwind the whole time. There was no point in putting 1500 miles on it for nothing, when the old main would do fine.

So I am now savoring sailing with a complete new set of sails – first time in my life. I have always had old sails on all of my boats, and have simply never known what new sails are like, other than on dinghies in my sordid dinghy racing youth.

I had hoped that sailing with new sails would be wonderful – and if I hadn’t, I certainly wouldn’t have invested the considerable amount of cash required. But it is wonderful really more than I expected, and in so many ways.

The best news about the new main is that the vertical battens work fine (so far!) with my in-mast furling. This was a risk since reports are very much mixed on this, and in-mast furling problems are ghastly. The laminate sails are thinner and lighter than the old Dacron ones, and roll up easier. The battens – which are thin carbon fiber rods – go right in and out of the mast slot without any problem. Maybe that’s the secret – is making the battens very thin, with well-constructed pockets.

I expected that the boat would be much faster upwind with the new sails, but didn’t expect all that much on other points of sail. I’ve heard over and over again that baggy old sails won’t hurt you off the wind, but this is not true. Not only do they work superbly upwind, but on all other points of sail as well. Even dead downwind – I can shape the mainsail to present its full area to the wind, something I couldn’t do before. And not only upwind, but on a reach as well, there is dramatically less heeling – I mean dramatically. Where I would have the rail in the water and need to reef, now the boat is only heeling 10 or 15 degrees, and is flying through the water.

I have not yet hoisted the new yankee, and am regretting that I ever ordered it. The blade works superbly at wind speeds even much lower than I could use the old dacron yankee in. The light wind performance is amazing compared to the old sails. On a reach in single-digit wind, that is, wind, which I just couldn’t sail in before, I am getting speeds of 2/3 or more the true wind speed. Motor sailing has become quite amazing –a broad reach in 5 knots of true wind becomes a close reach at 6 to 7 knots with the engine just ticking over at 1200 rpm. And yet I can use the blade without reefing up to about 30 knots apparent, and with remarkably little heel (if it is correctly trimmed).

Sailing has also become much more fun and interesting. The new sails can be made into a huge variety of shapes, and are exquisitely sensitive to all of the controls. Proper application of the vang on a broad reach just added almost a knot, just a while ago. The downside is that the new sails profit so much from very fine adjustments to trim, that I find myself trimming them constantly now, instead of “set and forget” as before. I now have complete control over the twist of both sails, to get the air flowing over them both above and below, something I really couldn’t do before. I can make the main so flat that it “goes to sleep” – something I never thought I would experience on a cruising boat. The non-overlapping blade does not interfere with the mainsail, so the main is always working now – no “speed bubble”, no backwinding. The wind from the jib now flows straight back over the main, instead of ramming into it, and seems to produce more lift. The new main also does NOT have the horrible hollow leech, which is the price of in-mast furling – the leech is straight, help up by the battens. So not only does the front part of it work (due to non-interference from the jib), but there’s more there there at the leech, and so far more drive altogether from the new main, than I ever got from the old one.

Why are new sails so expensive? Because they’re worth it!
Really pleased Dockhead.

The only way you could increase the joy would be to put new sails on a TAG 60...........


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Old 15-07-2015, 13:39   #6
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Re: New Sails

Just bought a new main for my boat. Looking forward to putting it up.
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Old 18-07-2015, 09:04   #7
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Re: New Sails

Dockhead... how about some info on those new sails. Sailmaker? Material? Cut? Weight?
Thanks.
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Old 20-07-2015, 06:26   #8
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Re: New Sails

Quote:
Originally Posted by silversailor View Post
Dockhead... how about some info on those new sails. Sailmaker? Material? Cut? Weight?
Thanks.
Made by Sanders in Lymington -- same guy who made Tom Cunliffe's sails.

Material is a Bainbridge laminate -- so Mylar film with a carbon/dyneema cloth on both sides, then tafetta on both sides for durability.

They are radial cut and so very lovely to look at.
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Old 21-07-2015, 18:02   #9
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Re: New Sails

Good to hear things are going well.

You stuck your neck out with the vertical battens. That was more adventurous than I was prepared to risk. I hope they last the course.

Interesting to go for the blade jib - what do you think you get on a tacking angle now in various winds and sea states? Can you see where you are going?
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Old 22-07-2015, 15:05   #10
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Re: New Sails

Quote:
Originally Posted by poiu View Post
Good to hear things are going well.

You stuck your neck out with the vertical battens. That was more adventurous than I was prepared to risk. I hope they last the course.

Interesting to go for the blade jib - what do you think you get on a tacking angle now in various winds and sea states? Can you see where you are going?
Well, it was your recommendation which led me to the sailmaker, for which I thank you.

The vertical battens so far -- so far! -- are brilliant. You don't even notice they exist when you roll in or out the in-mast furling main. The laminate sailcloth is so much thinner and more flexible than Dacron, that in-mast furling just works far better. Time will tell, of course, as it's wear on the pockets which is what starts to cause problems. But so far, so good.

The straight luff makes a big difference in power from the mainsail.


Concerning the blade -- I still don't know for sure since I'm still experimenting, but sheeted inside the shrouds, I seem to be doing well at 28 degrees or so AWA, compared to 37 optimum with the old yankee. That's in a reasonably flat sea and F4 through F6; obviously more when the sea gets up.

I can't tell for sure what my geographical tacking angle is, but I don't think I've got it down to 90 degrees yet, my dream. But in reasonable conditions it seems to be under 100, and I think there may be more to go as I refine my technique and get my permanent twing chainplates in.

The wind range for the blade is much higher than for the old yankee, and is such an efficient shape, that it pulls better in light winds, too, despite the reduced area. The dramatic reduction of heeling and weather helm is a constant joy.

I haven't even hoisted the new yankee yet and am regretting that I blew so much money on it, since the blade seems to be the perfect all around sail for these latitudes.
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Old 24-07-2015, 11:06   #11
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Re: New Sails

It sounds good. The 28 degrees is better than I get. Until recently I thought was doing better, but I discovered my windvane was out of calibration. It's more like low 30s for me. I know I asked, but is really a bit pointless to measure absolutely as you can point higher and higher and go slower to no purpose. Perhaps more relevant is the best vmg angle to windward. I don't know what mine is. Some time tuning in perfect conditions is what is needed.

One thing I have come to realise late in the game is that my big yankee doesn't go to windward so well. With any wind speed, even with low wind speeds the boat will go higher and faster when the yankee is furled. It can be under canvassed compared to using a full yankee and will always go better reefed. I think it might be explained by the greater efficiency of not having an overlapping sail when going to windward. Similar I expect to how it is with your blade. With the furled sail I probably have not such a large sail area, nor such an ideal shape. I wonder if I pull the clew in if I can improve performance further. I think you have experimented with that.

It will be the higher wind angles where you will appreciate the yankee, particularly in lower wind speeds. Also you can pole it out effectively. Let us know how you get on.
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Old 24-07-2015, 11:27   #12
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Re: New Sails

My dad always told me that you can walk better with new shoes that fit well on your feet, you can sail better with new sails that fit well on your boat. Oh and another wise thing from dad he always told me an old saying, in your sailboat it is the same like in your life, there's nothing you can do about the wind, but you can always adjust your sails.
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Old 24-07-2015, 12:53   #13
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Re: New Sails

Quote:
Originally Posted by poiu View Post
It sounds good. The 28 degrees is better than I get. Until recently I thought was doing better, but I discovered my windvane was out of calibration. It's more like low 30s for me. I know I asked, but is really a bit pointless to measure absolutely as you can point higher and higher and go slower to no purpose. Perhaps more relevant is the best vmg angle to windward. I don't know what mine is. Some time tuning in perfect conditions is what is needed.

One thing I have come to realise late in the game is that my big yankee doesn't go to windward so well. With any wind speed, even with low wind speeds the boat will go higher and faster when the yankee is furled. It can be under canvassed compared to using a full yankee and will always go better reefed. I think it might be explained by the greater efficiency of not having an overlapping sail when going to windward. Similar I expect to how it is with your blade. With the furled sail I probably have not such a large sail area, nor such an ideal shape. I wonder if I pull the clew in if I can improve performance further. I think you have experimented with that.

It will be the higher wind angles where you will appreciate the yankee, particularly in lower wind speeds. Also you can pole it out effectively. Let us know how you get on.
Yes, I'm talking about something approximating max VMG to windward, not pinching up.

Your yankee, if it works like all of mine have, will have a terrible shape once you start to furl it. Also, sailing with a reefed headsail is very hard on it -- stretches it out. For upwind work you might consider having Peter make you a blade like mine. It just transforms sailing upwind.

I acquired a carbon pole off a TP52 this spring, about 25 feet long, similar to the foot length of my yankee. I'm thinking this combo will be good off the wind, but I haven't tried it yet.
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Old 28-07-2015, 22:03   #14
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Re: New Sails

Interesting and timely post!!!

Really starting to be time for a new set of sails for the new to me boat. I remember putting new Quantum tri-raidial cruising sails on the CAL Cruising 35 and was amazed at the difference they made. That was in 1997 and those sails were a bit radical for an older cruising boat...

Fast forward to the present. I am sailing the original Hood sails on my Oyster 55 which was built in 1990. Both headsails are "BiRadial" and the main is crosscut with rather large vertical battens (similar to a traditional main's battens but vertical).

The mast is the original Hood in mast furling spar, which has a rather large sail slot. I had the entire rig rebuilt about 2 years ago and all of the hardware is working quite well.

I have built polars for the boat with the current sail inventory which I will upload if anyone is interested and have a good predictability of performance in various true wind speed and true wind angles.

I suspect that I am getting alot more heel going to weather than would be good.

So, time for new sails to replace the 25 year old canvas.

The question is with regard to the main what to replace it with.

I have seriously considered Hydranet as a great material, looked at some of the cruising laminates but worry about mildew issues.

Looking for a solid sail for a trip once around the planet!

Thanks
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Old 29-07-2015, 08:30   #15
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Re: New Sails

Quote:
Originally Posted by botanybay View Post
Interesting and timely post!!!

Really starting to be time for a new set of sails for the new to me boat. I remember putting new Quantum tri-raidial cruising sails on the CAL Cruising 35 and was amazed at the difference they made. That was in 1997 and those sails were a bit radical for an older cruising boat...

Fast forward to the present. I am sailing the original Hood sails on my Oyster 55 which was built in 1990. Both headsails are "BiRadial" and the main is crosscut with rather large vertical battens (similar to a traditional main's battens but vertical).

The mast is the original Hood in mast furling spar, which has a rather large sail slot. I had the entire rig rebuilt about 2 years ago and all of the hardware is working quite well.

I have built polars for the boat with the current sail inventory which I will upload if anyone is interested and have a good predictability of performance in various true wind speed and true wind angles.

I suspect that I am getting alot more heel going to weather than would be good.

So, time for new sails to replace the 25 year old canvas.

The question is with regard to the main what to replace it with.

I have seriously considered Hydranet as a great material, looked at some of the cruising laminates but worry about mildew issues.

Looking for a solid sail for a trip once around the planet!

Thanks
I think we would all be very interested to see your polars.

Opinions vary on Hydranet from very good to very bad. I considered these but couldn't form a judgement about whether they are actually any better than good quality plain old Dacron or not.

Time will tell how the laminate sails hold up. I sure like them so far. On a larger boat, it seems to me, especially one sailed a lot in strong conditions, you really need the dimensional stability of laminate.
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