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Old 31-05-2013, 13:39   #1
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Sails- design software, lofts and fabrics

So it is time for me to replace what the previous owner put on our boat in 2002. The Main is 840sf and the Jib is 530sf both in a cruise laminate, big sails, same size expense and decision on what to do.

On designs, what kind of difference is there between these softwares the lofts use. I know the different companies talk about the races their sails have won and their designs. Is the airfoil that different, sail shape is controlled by the sailor mostly isn't it unless bagged out/worn out. It seems to me the radial designs are cut for load on the fabrics, cross cut sails as standard. From loft to loft on design does it make enough difference on a cruising sail.

With lofts now you have choices of made in the USA or offshore by cheaper labor. The offshore sails are getting some good reviews and the prices are definately better, BUT is it the workmanship there?

Now on to fabric, there is Dacron, Hydranet and the Laminates, including the new "string" or "load path" sails. I think the later is a bit much for a cruiser, they are expensive and don't last. The laminate fabric holds its shape better but doesn't have the lifetime of a dacron or Hydranet woven fabric.

I have been told that our boat size (11tons) and being a multihull with the loads they present to a sail that I should go with a laminate. That is what I have now and they still have shape but they are starting to delam alot. At 11 years plus these have gone past the predicted 7-10 years I read the laminates usually get.

Thanks in advance, all comments appreciated and opinions noted.

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Old 09-06-2013, 08:46   #2
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Re: Sails- design software, lofts and fabrics

Durability maybe a 10% sacrifice - not 50%

I have UK laminate string sails made in Chicago - fabulous performance - main put on in 2003 is now being replaced -135 genoa replaced last year. Not bad for roller furler sails with extra wear used for long (100+ mile) runs with attendant loss of concentration as to trim.

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Old 11-06-2013, 17:48   #3
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Re: Sails- design software, lofts and fabrics

There is not significant differences in design software.. what there is, is significant differences in designer.
The significant benefit of local lofts is that you can sit with the designer to make changes to the sail.. placement of reef points etc, and having the sail built locally allows for a quick solution to issues post delivery.
I would very much recommend your local, non-franchise loft that makes sails on-site...
as for fabrics?.. one of the benefits of a local loft is that they can use a myriad of fabrics and do not get caught up in proprietary tech speak to sell you some particular fabric.. as they have no axe to grind.
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Old 12-06-2013, 02:08   #4
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Re: Sails- design software, lofts and fabrics

It doesn't really matter which design software, it is more about the person using it.

The workmanship is normally top notch from the offshore lofts, its the design and engineering they lack. A European company that is manufacturing offshore but still has a substantial service department locally is a good combination

Dacron can handle the loads, it'll just be heavier. They are using it on the new 70ft clipper round the world boats - 3 ply dacron... Hydra-net is super expensive, will last just as well if not better than dacron and be lighter but it still stretches over time.
Laminates are generally stable but don't last as long depending on amount of use and climate. If your happy with how your existing sails have lasted then get laminates again. I don't think there is alot of difference in price between radial cut laminates and membrane/loadpath sails these days.
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Old 12-06-2013, 03:11   #5
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Re: Sails- design software, lofts and fabrics

Originally Posted by SeaKing View Post
So it is time for me to replace what the previous owner put on our boat in 2002. The Main is 840sf and the Jib is 530sf both in a cruise laminate, big sails, same size expense and decision on what to do.
What kind of sailing will you do, and where? Are you mostly cruising inside the Ches bay? How many days/year do you sail? If your destination is upwind or the wind light, do you turn the motors on (be honest)? Etc . . .

That makes a big difference in sail selection.
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Old 12-06-2013, 07:28   #6
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Re: Sails- design software, lofts and fabrics

I agree, the design software programs all can produce whatever shapes wanted, it is up to the sail designer to use the software to design the best sail for the boat. This includes the profile, (how much roach and where) leech twist, and three dimensional shape. The intended use of the boat and areas it will be sailing is also plays a big part. A flat sail for a boat that only points 55 degrees off the wind is wasted power. A sail too full will be slow upwind as well as on some reaches. Best to use experienced sailmakers for multihulls if buying multihull sails. A fast sail on a cruising boat can take hours and days off passages, making for safer cruising.
Cuts and material play a big roll. The best designed sail will still only be as good as the cut and material. Good designers try to produce the best sail shape and use construction to maintain that shape in a wide range of conditions. A cross cut dacron sail, on a catamaran this size, will have an OK material life but, a short "performance life". This is the length of time the sail holds it's designed shape.
Triradial cuts are used to obtain better fiber alignment in the primary loads. Load Path sails take this a step further by aligning fibers to follow a computer generated "load map" of the lines of stress on a sail. A well designed sail, with performance construction, will have the shape "locked in" and trim adjustments don't change the shape much. For performance cruising, the triradial cut Hydra Net sails are hard to beat. Long performance life with good shape holding, lighter than dacron, longer lasting than dacron, and good UV and chaff resistance. Down side, very expensive. Although, if they last 1.2 to 1.5 times as long as dacron and give long performance live, they are worth considering. There are new warp dacrons designed for triradial cuts. These now come up to 12 oz. This would be a good compromise for performance and durability at a more affordable price. New laminates have increased durability but, can mildew and sometimes delaminate. Care must be taken to use fabrics engineered for the loads of the boat. Load path sails for cruisers can be good or bad. There are many options in the market and not all are the same.
Virtually all major sailmaker groups are using overseas manufacturing with local lofts doing service and warranty work. The best overseas lofts offer top-of-the-line construction. The main differences are the sail designs and "cut sheets" Cut sheets are what the designer sends to the manufacturer out lining all construction details, materials, and hardware. Overseas lofts, with their low labor rates, can afford to invest many more in a sail. This can equate to better construction and finishing details.
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Old 12-06-2013, 12:05   #7
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Re: Sails- design software, lofts and fabrics


Nice summary... I think that you have hit all the high points!



Jim and Ann
s/v Insatiable back in MBTBC marina, waiting for next eye jobs to be done
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