Sounds like an interesting project
. Keen to hear what you come up with. FWIW regarding the possible benefits of rips I can only think of these odd examples.
There was some fad in the 18th century or so for square rigger sails with carefully placed holes in them to increase the lift
. It didn't seem to take off as an idea, but certainly the horizontal slots between the square sails help to increase the drive. Choke them up to much and you kill the speed, much like closing the slot on the jib
on a modern sloop
The Chinese junks had slotted rudders with lots of small diamond shapes deliberately cut into them to prevent stalling, or so it's said, and the sails were said to be made from a porous weave of bamboo to leak air for the same reason, and often where riddled with holes.
Somewhere I also think I remember reading something about deliberately putting holes into Bermudan sails to do the same thing, maybe the AYRS
, or something by Czeslaw Marchaj?
Both are worth a look at if you are interested in sail dynamics.
Me? I like my sails in one piece and without any rips! Most rips seem to start at the leach and tear towards the luff. Thats certainly one big advantage of radial cut (or traditional vertical cut) sails, the seams can act as a ripstop preventing catastrophic failure. A strong leach cord can also hold the lot together long enough to get the sail down.
Full length battens and Reef bands can also act as a ripstop with a vertical split, very handy if your sail is radial cut.