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Old 19-03-2012, 05:46   #1
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Sailrite Kits... Do it yourself sailmaking

Does anyone have experience with sailrite sails? They custom design kits for just about any size boat. Panels are CAD designed and cut. Each one is then labeled for do it yourself assembly and sewing. Curious about the shape and performance of the sails? Was it worth the effort? Was there a significant savings?
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Old 21-03-2012, 07:31   #2
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Anybody".............?
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Old 22-03-2012, 11:52   #3
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Re: Sailrite kits...... Do it yourself sailmaking

Years ago I made a drifter for my Contessa 26 using the Sailrite book, but bought my 3/4 ounce cloth locally. I followed the directions and used a yacht club floor to cut and glue. Did it with a home sewing machine, and the sail was very useful. Good Luck______Grant.
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Old 22-03-2012, 12:55   #4
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Thanks Grant,

Their CAD program appears to be good. Obviously each sail can be modified to suit. Rumor has it that they cut lots of kits for a lot of professional sailmakers.......
it wouldn't surprise me if they did. It would save any sailmaker the cost of the system and they can sew and build sails all day long.....no one being the wiser.

Was it worth the effort in the long run????
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Old 22-03-2012, 20:50   #5
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Re: Sailrite kits...... Do it yourself sailmaking

In my case it was very much worth it. I had no motor on my boat and the drifter made many a light air mile for me. I am not sure I would trust something as important as a main for a first project. Just my thoughts. _____Grant.
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Old 22-03-2012, 21:13   #6
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Re: Sailrite kits...... Do it yourself sailmaking

I would concur with this. I can hem and cut kaftans and anything resembling a tunic or a monk's cassock, but that's the limit of my skill set at the sewing machine. I would attempt some sort of light-air foresail because there's little harm if I screw up, but a main needs a deep knowledge of the forces at play to truly make efficient. I am reminded how relatively small differences in wing chord and engine power took warplane fighters from cruise speeds in the upper 200 mile per hour range in 1940 to the lower 400 mile an hour range by 1945.

Small changes made big differences, and deep knowledge was in play.

That said, the Sailrite machine seems to have a great rep for repair and restoration of existing sails, and sewing a panel or 20 feet of exploded leech pocket together in a calm, post-storm afternoon would in my mind justify the purchase, because I like sails in good order.
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Old 22-03-2012, 22:09   #7
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Re: Sailrite kits...... Do it yourself sailmaking

I just don't know about this undertaking, Im very good at hand repairing almost any sail damaged at sea! with my trusty palm! But I don't think my 40 + yrs of sail repair even gets me close to doing sails even with the best sewing machine out there ! I have basic understanding of sail shapes and lift ect but the sails for my boats need to be made by a Cruiseing sail maker !! I don't need trick sails just GOOD strong sails!! I just don't feel I have the knowalge or the time to start making sails !! just my 2 cents
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Old 22-03-2012, 22:16   #8
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Re: Sailrite kits...... Do it yourself sailmaking

The Cape Dory 30 I used to sail had a full suite of working sails from Sailrite kits made by the PO. He made a full set of cushions first, and some other canvas work, then tackled the sails. They were well made and had really good hand work around the tack, clew and head.
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Old 22-03-2012, 22:41   #9
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Go for it. We have built a set of racing sails for our Columbia challenger and they kicked ass. Tri radial laminated cloth. They cost us what a set of standard Dacron sails from a loft would have, but we're much better. The main was a full battened, the jib was a deck sweeper where four of the panels were made out of X-glass, essentially a giant window. We could always see in front of us with no blind spots. The directions were very good. The support from Sail Rite was excellent. What we saved easily paid for the sewing machine. It took about a day and a half for the jib and thee days for the main. We have also made a storm jib for our 44 foot steel sailboat from one of their kits. Also very well designed. They design in a lot of nice little things that most sail lofts skip due to the labor it would cost them to do. Doing it yourself you save this costs and get a much better product. The most important thing you need in order to put one of here kits together is the belief that you can actually do it. They may be kits, but they are designed to fit your boat just like a custom sail.
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Old 22-03-2012, 23:39   #10
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Re: Sailrite kits...... Do it yourself sailmaking

I ordered a do-it-yourself sail kit from sailrite. A genoa for my Tangerine 18.Followed the directions and "poof". I had a sail of very high quality that I don't think I could have bought from any store. I later ordered a window kit and sewed that in too.

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Old 27-03-2012, 18:22   #11
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I just unpacked the new machine. My wife has all sorts of ideas in mind and we both wanted to rethink making a few sails. It's an expensive machine. So these projects are a must to recoup the cost.

The materials and construction are pretty much standard practice. It is the design and their CAD program that we were curious about. How well cut are the panels? And how well shaped are the sails? How did the sails perform? Ours is a 12500# cruising boat. But we emphasis sailing performance over a wide range of conditions.

So your input has been a big help....... Thanks!!!!!!
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Old 28-03-2012, 10:19   #12
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Re: Sailrite kits...... Do it yourself sailmaking

A friend of mine purchased one of their kits for a sailing dinghy. Loved it.
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Old 28-03-2012, 11:19   #13
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Re: Sailrite kits...... Do it yourself sailmaking

This is a great thread, glad it got posted. I am willing to try anything, but sailmaking has daunted me a bit. After reading some of the positive comments, looks like time to break out the sewing machine and get hot.
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Old 28-03-2012, 11:23   #14
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Re: Sailrite kits...... Do it yourself sailmaking

At the time, the sail kit from Sailrite my wife made was the largest mainsail they had ever done. They were excellent to work with first of all. Spent more than 2 hours on the phone getting everything specified as we wanted. We order a radial sail made from a heavy cruising laminate.

The sail kit was outstanding. All the panels were number appropriately. There was a set of VERY complete instructions and design parameters. The sail came out wonderfully, The shape is still great, we are just having it cleaned now.

We only had a couple of issues. When we were measuring, we measured utilizing the then current sail. We did not really notice at the time but that would allow the boom to rub up against the bimini. It should have been 6 inches shorter at the leech.

At the tack and the clew there are so many layers of cloth, she could not sew through it. We were in Hollywood, Florida at the time and the Sailrite shop they used to have in Ft Lauderdale lent us a high end machine that allowed her to complete that portion of the sail. Great Service!

We had no way to press through the tack and clew to mount the hardware there. We took the sail to Nance and Underwood and they used their punch to go through the layers of the sail and mounted the rings. We were good friends with Roger, so he did this for us for free!

The issue with laminate is in getting them cleaned. Many places (Sail Care) won't clean them because of potiential damage to the lamanate. So just factor that in your choice of cloth.

With the machine, we saved about half the cost of most of the quotes we were getting for a new sail. It was a great expereince! They even featured my wife on the cover of one of their catalogs!
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Old 28-03-2012, 16:51   #15
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Re: Sailrite kits...... Do it yourself sailmaking

G'Day all,

I've never used one of their kits, but have built both a spinnaker and a storm jib for a Yankee-30. This was many years ago... used their little instructional pamphlets for doing the design and a home machine to do most of the sewing. Borrowed a better machine to do the thicker parts of the storm jib. Both sails worked well.

But, from this experience I would caution folks to consider the physical difficulties of constructing sails for larger boats, unless you have access to a floor space similar to a sail loft, and have a machine with good throat space. A larger sail... say >250 sq ft... especially if made from heavier cloth becomes difficult to stuff through many smaller machines. This awkwardness is increased if one is limited in area around the machine, and if it isn't recessed into the floor as in a proper loft. Doesn't mean that it can't be done, but it is a challenge!

Finally, especially for mainsails, the measuring process for good design is critical and not so easy to do. Consider for instance the measurement of mast bend: our sailmaker spent an hour on that set of measurements alone, using a special device that allowed him to measure the offset from straight at about 2 foot intervals up our ~55 foot luff length... with and without backstay tension. I expect that the folks at Sailrite know how to deal with these things, but they are critical for the shape of the finished product.

So, IMHO making light air sails and smaller "white" sails is a reasonable job for the amateur, but larger, heavier sails and particularly mainsails should be approached with caution.

Cheers,

Jim
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