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Old 10-07-2011, 19:37   #91
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Re: Sails and Rigging Made in China

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Originally Posted by S/V Antares View Post
I bought a new headsail from a local well know sailmaker here in Annapolis. I got quotes for a china made sail but decided to keep my money local. Three years later it is falling apart. The uv cover failed. The thread used failed and was clearly not uv thread. I will entertain a chineese sail next time.

My dodger and bimini was made by a local artisan 10 years ago and every stich is still in place so I know it can be done.
If the sail fabric is still ok, restitch it with Tenara. It's a PITA to sew with, as it's slippery and tension adjustments take a little watching, but it is guaranteed forever.
I restitched my tramps every two years (a big job) and finally bought a big spool of Tenara (GoreTex). Two years later, the stitching is like I sewed it yesterday.
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Old 21-08-2011, 18:20   #92
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Re: Sails and Rigging Made in China

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I bought a new headsail from a local well know sailmaker here in Annapolis. I got quotes for a china made sail but decided to keep my money local. Three years later it is falling apart. The uv cover failed. The thread used failed and was clearly not uv thread. I will entertain a chineese sail next time.

My dodger and bimini was made by a local artisan 10 years ago and every stich is still in place so I know it can be done.
The premium cruising sails we sell are stitched with GoreTex Tenara thread. As cruisers ourselves, we've seen a lot of people spend an inordinate amount of time restitching sails and canvas. That's now how we think our time should be spent although admittedly we added a bit to our cruising kitty sewing stuff for other cruisers.

So why doesn't every sailmaker switch to better materials like Tenara? It's very simple. Most lofts have two revenue streams. New sails and service. Service work is a substantial percentage of gross revenue. If everyone built sails using Tenara thread, doubled tapes, PTFE coated stainless luff hardware (instead of nylon), webbed on rings (rather than pressed), SuperRings instead of spur grommets along mainsail luff, etc. etc., the service end of the business would suffer.

Plus these methods cost more. It's far more economical long term to build a sail from the best materials and methods available if it's going to see a lot of use the way cruising sails do. Plus who wants to spend time lugging sails to and from a loft for service all the time?

Think about this. Most lofts suggest a "tuneup" every season. If a boat is only being used a few weekends a month and maybe for a two week sailing vacation, how many hours of use are the sails getting in the course of a sailing season? Now consider a voyaging sailor who will cross from the US west coast to the Marguesas. If his or her sails need a tuneup after the same amount of exposure as our example above, they will not make the crossing without working on sails. A no compromise set of cruising sails needs to be able to handle 700 or 800 hours of non-stop use and have a service life of at least 5000-6000 hours. A great set of sails will make it through a circumnavigation and still have some degree of serviceability. They won't be pretty and they will certainly have suffered from some stretch, but they will still be usable to some extent.

And as far as the direct order lofts in the far east, I advise caution. Many of those companies are only able to provide sails at those prices by purchasing second quality cloth that is offered up by the manufacturers at a fraction of normal prices. And nobody should buy anything over the internet unless they are using a credit card. Any lofts that insist you wire money are simply insulating themselves from credit card chargebacks from customers with sails that don't fit or are otherwise unacceptable.
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Old 22-08-2011, 06:16   #93
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Re: Sails and Rigging Made in China

Thanks for the thoughtful comments on my post Islandplanet. I agree with all your points. I have had sails on various from a dozen lofts including Eygypgian cotton by Ratsey made in the 1950's. I was clearly not communicating my needs when I ordered this 130% heavy roller furlling sail. I will look for a loft that specilalizes in cruising sails next time. Dang.... now that you mention it my Main is starting to look a bit shabby.
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Old 22-08-2011, 09:52   #94
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Re: Sails and Rigging Made in China

Hi Will,

One of the gentlemen who is involved with our production loft is a member of the Ratsey family. If you still have that old Egyptian cotton sail you should send me a picture to share with him. Let me know if we can be of service.

One of the things that we're doing more of these days is looking at alternatives to that "heavy roller furling sail." The new generation of foil-less furlers has made it possible to equip cruising boats with, for lack of a better term, a cruising code zero that is extremely versatile and provides a good reason to go with a smaller genoa. In fact some cruisers are moving away from the overlapping genoa completely when they put a cruising code zero on the boat. The cost of these furlers has come down from where it used to be. When comparing a cruising spinnaker with an ATN sock to a cruising code zero on a foil-less furler, the difference in cost is probably around 25% more for the code zero and furler combo. Where the furler really pays off though is in ease of sailhandling. Pull on the line and the sail goes away. Couldn't get much easier than that.
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Old 22-08-2011, 10:21   #95
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Re: Sails and Rigging Made in China

Sorry, I do not have any pictures of the Ratsy sail as I was too impressed with it to put it up! The hand work was beyond discription. The boat was a Gaf Ketch which appeared on the cover of Sailing Mag. I believe it was December of '58 or 59'. The Atkin design had a large Genoa with a wire, no twist luff. It was used on a "Markum Wickum" furling rig that looks like the code 0 items I have seen on the net.
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Old 22-08-2011, 10:37   #96
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Re: Sails and Rigging Made in China

Wow...I missed much of this thread but a sailmaker (and I use the term loosely) sewed your sails with non UV resistant thread and they failed in 3 years?? I hope you're going to advertise who it is. I've seen some very nice looking Lee Sails. Sailmaking requires skill and not being afraid of work. Skill with the hands is getting to be a lost art in the US.
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Old 22-08-2011, 12:32   #97
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Re: Sails and Rigging Made in China

Cheechako,

Looks are deceiving. Labor is reasonable enough in Asia to do a lot of fancy handwork. That said, those rings on the Lee Sails that look to be hand sewn are actually done by machine. As I mentioned before, what you are often getting with the lower tier lofts is second quality cloth, the stuff that does not meet manufacturer standards and is sold off for as little as 20 cents on the dollar. Be sure whoever builds your sails is using first quality cloth. At our production loft not only is all the cloth proper first quality, but acceptance testing is performed before the cloth goes on the shelf. I can get a copy of the test results for any sail we've built.

Another thing to be concerned with is quality of design. If a shapeless flat white triangle is acceptable, then you have nothing to be concerned with. Otherwise a fair question to ask anyone proposing to build a sail for you is how well qualified is the designer. A follow-up question is has that person ever stepped foot on a boat? Many of those second or third tier lofts have someone running the design software that has never been on a sailboat. My criteria for hiring a sail designer for our operation is that they have at least 10 years of design experience and can show me a track record encompassing successful high visibility projects. We've had two designers since I started the company and both had decades of experience before joining us.

Customers review design drawings before sails get built and any merits or drawbacks of the proposed design are discussed. For instance we get someone who wants a 110% genoa but has fairlead tracks more suited for a 130%. In order for the sail to sheet properly we either have to build it with a very high clew or the customer needs to add track or at least a fairlead. We make sure they are very aware of these choices before the sail gets built.

From what I've seen of the measurement worksheets published by Lee and these other outfits, they would have absolutely no way to tell you if sheeting angle is going to be an issue because they don't collect the information required to analyze the rig and sheeting angles.

Now that we've beat sheeting angles into the ground, let's discuss mainsails. The mains I see from these lofts rarely have much roach. That's because they don't collect the data to design the sail with added roach. On a cruising sail we don't want the leech to hit the backstay but on the other hand we don't want to not take advantage of the area available.

To design a mainsail with proper luff curve you need to know something about the mast bend characteristics. The reason a lot of their sails are relatively shapeless is they aren't collecting mast bend information to properly design the luff curve. When we design a mainsail we can predict the camber in relation to backstay tension. If you have an adjustable backstay you really want a sail with proper luff curve otherwise the sail may "invert" with backstay tension or not flatten sufficiently. Usually the problem is the former because the sail is cut too flat.

Sails are our engines. Be as involved as you can in material selection and design. Manufacturers publish details and specifications on their website. Read up on what the manufacturer says about the cloth. You don't need to be a sailmaker to figure out some of the differences. Recently I had a customer inquire why a quote from another sailmaker using Contender 9.4 Supercruise was lower than a quote we provided with Challenge 9.62 HA. After he looked at the links I provided to the manufacturer websites, he ordered the sail from us. You'll discover that every manufacturer offers multiple grades of material. The cloth on the lower end of the spectrum is well suited for casual daysailing but has no place on a boat being actively cruised.
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Old 22-08-2011, 15:44   #98
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Re: Sails and Rigging Made in China

Very understandable and true points i'm sure, but I dont think were talking flat out racing here. How do you design that mainsail for 10 to 30 knots with a mast that goes from 4" aft bed to 6" forward bend in those winds? No bckstay adjuster etc. are you saying you dont have and use stored camber info for say a pearson 36? You may be a one of kind maker.... And real find...ive bought sails from 5 different makers over the years... Measurements were often taken, but not a lot else was discussed.
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Old 23-08-2011, 11:07   #99
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Re: Sails and Rigging Made in China

Cheechako,

Mast bend should not be fore and aft. We're talking about the bend that you can see if you take your main halyard and tension it along the aft face of the mast. If you have an adjustable backstay, the gap between the halyard and the mast will increase with an increase in backstay tension. If a mast is bending the opposite direction there's a serious rigging problem.

If you have a non adjustable backstay we just need to know how much static bend there is in the mast so the luff curve can match it. You still have some shaping ability with halyard tension, cunningham (if installed), and outhaul.

The goal is to be able to trim our sails appropriate for the conditions. We want a flatter sail in heavy air and a fuller sail in the light stuff. A poorly designed sail will not offer you shaping ability. We want our customers to have as much of a range of adjustment that we can provide.

Sometimes people confuse mast bend with rake. Rake is the measurement of where the masthead is relative to the bottom of the mast. To measure rake for a mainsail, we simply suspend a weight from the main halyard and measure the distance it hangs from the aft face of the mast at the level of the boom.
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Old 23-08-2011, 12:02   #100
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Re: Sails and Rigging Made in China

Yeah, I agree... it's all a compromise unless you start changing sails for wind conditions. Three of my cruising boats were setup with heavy Profurl furlers and no backstay adjuster. The Passport 47 was completely rerigged and adjusted by ... I think it was Chesapeake rigging (?). Normally I adjust my own and do it while under sail. They all exhibited similar conditions in a good blow and of course varied with a reef in: The top of the mast bends forward, although depending on the boat, there was usually a few inches of mast bend (not rake) aft at the dock. It's all so complicated with so many variables, I'm just wondering about statements like : "To design a mainsail with proper luff curve you need to know something about the mast bend characteristics. The reason a lot of their sails are relatively shapeless is they aren't collecting mast bend information to properly design the luff curve...." for cruising boats. Granted, as a sailmaker you have to take your best shot at what you believe the boat characteristics are, but having observed the different curves in the mast at differnt real world conditions... let's face it... it's a real compromise. That then begs the question, how elaborate does the design process need to be? and does a company like Lee Sails do an adequate job... I think they've been doing it since what.. late 70's?
I agree wholeheartedly about roaches. That's my biggest issue with in mast furling. As an interesting note, I used to race on IOR boats in the 70's and 80's. Strange thing in common with some of those was, going to windward, the boat would pick up speed if you cracked the main off just enough to allow a ripple or bubble in the luff right behind the mast. Hard to figure, but I guess it has to do with the high aspect main and huge headsails...?

Anyway.... it's all good! I'm certainly not a sail designer, have the greatest respect for you guys! I'm just a pragmatist as well as an engineer. I have often found that the technical doesnt meet the real world.. mainly because there are so many variables that you would need a research grant to include them all!
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Old 23-08-2011, 13:08   #101
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Re: Sails and Rigging Made in China

One point I would like to add here is that when you purchase a new sail, of course they look great. But the true test is after 3-5 years of good use. Then you can see how the thread holds up. Were their machines adjusted properly? Was the thread UV type? I would never switch my preference unless I saw the condition of an aged sail
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Old 23-08-2011, 13:17   #102
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Re: Sails and Rigging Made in China

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One point I would like to add here is that when you purchase a new sail, of course they look great. But the true test is after 3-5 years of good use. Then you can see how the thread holds up. Were their machines adjusted properly? Was the thread UV type? I would never switch my preference unless I saw the condition of an aged sail
Ahhh.... thanks for retrieving us! Great points. I have seen sails that appear to have the threads all pulled to one side of the cloth... bad machine adjustment I suppose.
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Old 23-08-2011, 13:30   #103
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Re: Sails and Rigging Made in China

I think bad workmanship comes out much sooner. What comes out after 3-5 years will be the quality of the cloth!

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Old 23-08-2011, 19:08   #104
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Re: Sails and Rigging Made in China

Cheechako,

I think as an engineer you'd agree that if you don't have all the data in front of you, there is little hope of an creating the optimal solution. And while there are variables as you mention, the principals of sail design are well understood and fairly predictable. Sailmakers either have a commitment to quality and excellence or they don't. Given that sails are our engine I think cruisers are better served by sailmakers who strive to provide the best product possible. And for those who decide solely on price, there will always be Lee and the others that offer low prices. But as a wise man once said, the bitterness of poor quality outlasts the sweetness of a cheap price. Wouldn't you agree?

And based on my observations of being around the industry since the early 90's, I'd gently suggest that the design capability of Lee and similar outfits pales in comparison to every sailmaker that takes the time to collect all the appropriate data and make their best effort. That coupled with the fact the much of the material they use is second quality should explain the price disparity that so many express marvel with as if there is some great conspiracy afoot. It's a highly competitive business. Business models vary but you still have to compare apples to apples. You wouldn't negotiate price on a BMW or Lexus based on what a Kia or Hyundai is selling for.

Celestial,
I respectfully submit that miles and hours of exposure tell you a lot more about the quality of the sail than just having it on the boat for 3-5 years. I have customers that have put as many as 60,000 miles on one of our sails. Our goal is to provide 30,000-40,000 miles of service. Individual results will vary based on how well the sail is cared for and the amount of abuse it gets. I've seen cruisers leave their mainsail uncovered during a multi-week stay in an anchorage or marina. That sail is getting far more UV exposure than it should. Sails should be periodically rinsed with fresh water as the salt crystals are abrasive.
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Old 23-08-2011, 19:54   #105
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Re: Sails and Rigging Made in China

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Cheechako,


Celestial,
I respectfully submit that miles and hours of exposure tell you a lot more about the quality of the sail than just having it on the boat for 3-5 years
Respectfully, I said 3-5 years of good use. By that I meant using them as in sailing. I should have clarified.
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