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Old 24-07-2008, 09:55   #16
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Way back in the flotsam and jetsam of my faded memory I recall the early spinakers being all white before one team showed up with a black one. They claimed it helped heat the air under the sail to cause 'lift'. The next year half the teams had colored chutes. I also recall at least one book recommending white sails claiming that colored sails would heat up and stretch more thus becoming baggy and losing their shape. Don't know either has any basis in physics.

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Old 24-07-2008, 10:49   #17
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If you're willing to pay, you can have any color and design you like. My guess is that for most, just getting over the sticker shock of a new set of sails is rough enough that the idea of additional thousands for a custom design is likely just not something that would be considered in numbers high enough to lower the prices measurably. Good ole supply and demand theory. Simply unlikely enough demand at the initial pricepoint necessary for them to become prevalent enough to have competition apply a downward pressure on prices. If it were, VERY likely someone would have already leveraged themselves to be the first player in an emerging market. I doubt we see such an 'emerging' market for some time to come, if ever. I think it'll remain firmly as a niche market for those who can afford to pay the high premium for customization...


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Old 24-07-2008, 10:50   #18
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Then there is the boat on S.F. Bay that flies a spinnaker with marilyn Monroe standing over the grate if memory serves me correct.........
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Old 24-07-2008, 11:20   #19
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Why sails were tan colour

Nobody answered David Old Jersey’s question why traditional sails were tan, so I will. The old square sails were made of cotton or canvas and bent on their yards in all weathers, furled or flying. In order to extend their life they were soaked in a cutch solution (boiled gum and water), which acted as a preservative against sun, rain, snow and whatever, but which turned them deep red, or tan. I still think the sight of a sailing boat with tan sails sets the pulse beating just a little faster…….
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Old 24-07-2008, 12:27   #20
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Aloha Jolly,
Thanks. I was going to say that it was also a matter of what material was available at the time and place your sails needed replacing.
Colored dacron fabric for sails has been around for a long long time. Sunfish sails have come in different colors for a long time (design is 55 years old). People normally chose white because of the cost. Back in the early 80s there was a fellow in Pearl Harbor with a sleek looking boat that had a hull of dark blue. His sails were light blue. Very pretty.
There is a lady here in Hilo that has her trademark pink Venture 21 with pink sails to match (actually a bit off color).
When you order new sails from Lee or any other large sailmaking company you can name your colors.
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Old 25-07-2008, 11:10   #21
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Tanbark and colors

Tanbark was any of a thousand "secret recipes" which were designed to preserve natural fibre sails. In europe, where most commercial sails were made of flax, the various mixtures - heavy with tanins - created a heavy, paint-like surface of red. It also came off fairly easily when rubbed which is why many leisure sailors wore something akin to a duster and why chafing gear was so universal. (Cotton, which set more neatly, was too expensive for the european market until the US trade became more prominent.)

For dacron sail material the preferred method of coloring is with disperse dye, which requires at least one additional processing and often a heat/pressure processing as well. Because sail material is made in extremely tiny runs (for textiles), it's simply not cost effective to provide a selection.

Dark colors have a greater life expectancy relative to sun exposure, but there is evidence the additional heat is harmful to the life of the additional film treatments and stabilizing additives. They also show calendaring more obviously.

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Old 25-07-2008, 13:38   #22
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I have a brand new set of Dacron Cruising sails being made from UK Halsey as we speak. Butch Ulmer (President of UK) told me that the colored dacron was a bad idea because of longevity issues with the material. I will ask him to resend the info and explain the reason and post it here.
Clint & Jennifer Summers
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Old 25-07-2008, 15:52   #23

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Two words: Dye Embrittlement.

All the chemical dyes that make nice bright colors, also make the fabric brittle. IIRC red is the worst, deep blue and black some of the least damaging. Partly from the way the dyes absorb light (you may notice red paints and inks bleach out quickly in the sun) partly from the chemicals themselves.

Dying the sails would make them weker, easier to lose shape. And, the lofts would have to keep much larger inventories of cloth. But there's no reason you can't get a patterned and colored sail, if you want to spend the money for it.
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Old 25-07-2008, 16:26   #24

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This is a good question.

My working sails (main and 110%) are both the dark blue color you see on this website where it says "home page portal" "discussion board" and "photo gallery."

I guess that's so unique that even a bridge tender commented on them when I was sailing up a stretch of intracoastal. He said in all his years at the bridge, he'd never seen a sailboat with blue sails.

I am not sure how they make blue dacron, but the dye seems to be holding up well, 25 years on with my sails. They are still in decent shape. Could also be because the PO ate up a pair of Yanmars and repowered...
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Old 25-07-2008, 19:06   #25

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I think we both know, if sails are 25 years old and still have any shape to them, they've been stored in the attic next to a wedding dress and not used since that first day.<G>

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