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Old 15-05-2016, 16:22   #1
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Cuben sailing fabric?

Just wondering. Reading Brian Hancock's 2009 book "Maximum Sail Power" he's pretty much sold of Cuben fabric.

Has this fabric established itself as a premium sail fabric? Or, come and gone?

Anyone had experience with it?
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Old 15-05-2016, 17:02   #2
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Re: Cuben sailing fabric?

I used it. Good stuff. Strong, light, etc. It dates back at least to AC cat vs. mono years.

I have seen some recent Zeroes made in Cuben.

Last year I helped a guy who built himself a Cuben storm jib. He had Cuben out of a dumped racing sail.

It does not handle too comfortably with bare hands, perhaps there are some tricks (;-) like having it on a furler).

I would use it on my own boat. Warning: It was the most expensive option when I worked with it back in 2005/6.

It feels like a fine polypro sheet more than a typical canvas. I do not think it is woven. Think of a thick plastic bag, etc.

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Old 15-05-2016, 17:36   #3
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Re: Cuben sailing fabric?

He was suggesting at the time that the (then premium) price might come down over time. But like so many things, price is only part of the picture, isn't it?
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Old 15-05-2016, 22:07   #4
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Re: Cuben sailing fabric?

Last time I really looked into it cuben has been relegated primarily to spinnakers and 3di has taken over as the primary working sail fabric. Both of them are using filament thick spectra/carbon fibers, but in the 3di the fibers are glue to each other, the cuben has polyester films holding the filaments together.

Both of them has shown incredible durability combined with very light weight. But neither of them are at all cheap.
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Old 16-05-2016, 06:07   #5
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Re: Cuben sailing fabric?

The Cuben I used was without extra filaments - no carbon nor spectra inside. But it is correct to say as there are also carbon/spectra Cuben sails around. These must be absolute killers.

Here some feed:
North Sails: Race Series 780 Cuben Fiber Upwind Sails
Newbie to Cuben Fiber | GO OUT

Plain Cuben as used in tents, hammocks, etc. is not overly expensive. You can have this for about 25 to 35 dollars per yard. However, sailmaker grades we used were easily twice the price, if I remember well.

Good stuff when extreme strength/weight count, I think.

Cheers,
b.
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Old 16-05-2016, 08:41   #6
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Laminated Sails

I'm trying to recall where I had recently read a fairly long subject thread on sail cloths,...and the opinions of many cruising sailors was that the laminated sails were just NOT as long lasting ?

Perhaps it was on this forum??

I was always enamored with the old tape-drive sail technology, ....but never actually utilized them.
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Old 16-05-2016, 08:46   #7
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Re: Laminated Sails

Quote:
Originally Posted by beiland View Post
I'm trying to recall where I had recently read a fairly long subject thread on sail cloths,...and the opinions of many cruising sailors was that the laminated sails were just NOT as long lasting ?

Perhaps it was on this forum??
Perhaps here in this postings and subsequent discussion.

Help With Sail Cloth Choices
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Old 16-05-2016, 12:16   #8
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Re: Cuben sailing fabric?

"But neither of them are at all cheap. "
Well, heck Greg. Isn't that why the Ashland Corporation makes it so easy to rob all those convenient 7-11 stores? (G)
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Old 16-05-2016, 14:30   #9
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Re: Cuben sailing fabric?

Quote:
Originally Posted by hellosailor View Post
"But neither of them are at all cheap. "
Well, heck Greg. Isn't that why the Ashland Corporation makes it so easy to rob all those convenient 7-11 stores? (G)
It would take a lot of 7-11's.

I just had to look... For a Melges 32 the 3di raw mainsail is about 15% more than a 3dl. For a cruiser I would recommend a taffeta sail not the raw, so that will drive price up a bit, but add to its lifespan. A Dacron sail probably weighs four times as much, will hold its shape for about 10% as long, but cost 30%...

As always there is a trade off between price/durability/weight.

The Cuben fiber raw sails btw weigh about 1/2 what 3dl does, so it's a pretty substantial jump.
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Old 16-05-2016, 15:00   #10
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Re: Cuben sailing fabric?

A plain Cuben sail/cloth is not like mylar/Spectra (etc) laminates.

I would guess pure/plain Cuben will last as well as Dacron. I have seen a VERY old Cuben sail on tri stopping at S Miguel. The sail was very beaten up but did not show any signs of delamination or otherwise deterioration.

Laminated sails fail most often on the interface. Pure Cuben does not combine varied materials. It is, or so it seems, a mono-structure.

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Old 16-05-2016, 17:00   #11
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Re: Cuben sailing fabric?

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Originally Posted by barnakiel View Post
A plain Cuben sail/cloth is not like mylar/Spectra (etc) laminates.

Pure Cuben does not combine varied materials. It is, or so it seems, a mono-structure.

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no, not true.

First, just so we are all clear, there is actually no such thing as a 'cuben fiber'. Cuben is a brand name for a process and not for a fiber type.

Second, it is essentially a spectra fiber flat goods laminate cloth - The process is to (a) spread tapes out very thin - to a filament or two thickness (similar in some wants to 3di), these tapes are usually dyneema fibers but custom order can include carbon or aramid; (2) lay those tapes out (flat and not in 3d molds as in 3di) usually in a 0/90 pattern, but sometimes with 30 degree fibers and sometimes with custom off axis tapes; and (3) sandwich (eg laminate) that fiber layout between either polyester or fluoride films, this sandwich is then autoclaved
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Old 16-05-2016, 17:42   #12
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Re: Cuben sailing fabric?

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Originally Posted by estarzinger View Post
no, not true.

First, just so we are all clear, there is actually no such thing as a 'cuben fiber'. Cuben is a brand name for a process and not for a fiber type.

Second, it is essentially a spectra fiber flat goods laminate cloth - The process is to (a) spread tapes out very thin - to a filament or two thickness (similar in some wants to 3di), these tapes are usually dyneema fibers but custom order can include carbon or aramid; (2) lay those tapes out (flat and not in 3d molds as in 3di) usually in a 0/90 pattern, but sometimes with 30 degree fibers and sometimes with custom off axis tapes; and (3) sandwich (eg laminate) that fiber layout between either polyester or fluoride films, this sandwich is then autoclaved
I see. I stand corrected.

I suspected the pure material similar to Spectra from how it cut (or rather did not) with very decent sailmaker's shears. I was not aware of polyester / fluoride films. I imagined the material molten or something similar to how some polyester cloth is finished with heat processing.

The material I worked with was (unless I am wrong again) poly-directional and bought in plain rolls. I have some leftovers onboard. Show them to all sailors that visit us. None knew what it was.

Since your superior technical expertise, what is your estimate of Cuben's durability? Have you heard or seen any signs of delamination or otherwise technology-specific damage?

Regards & thanks for sharing,
b.
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Old 16-05-2016, 19:02   #13
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Re: Cuben sailing fabric?

Barnakle,

Cuben fiber is named that after the Americas cup dream derisively called 'the Cubens'. They are the first ones that adapted the base material to sail cloth, and kept it very secret until after the AC. Basically the A^3 team was considered a joke by the media, once they won the material kept the name 'cuben' since they were the only ones with it.

What made is special is that unlike woven Kevlar material the spectra fibers are tows, or single strand thick layers that are not woven together. The films are just there to hold everything in place. Because dyneema is so uv resistant to start with compared to Kevlar the sails start with a massive durability advantage over 3dl sails.

3di takes this to the next level, instead of the tows being held in place by the laminates the fibers are directly bonded to each other.

See Shore Sails Fabric for a nice write up on cuben's history.


Durability of the cuben fibers is extrodinary. Round the world racers have seen such good durability out of the material it has allowed them to get rid of the second main sail and substitute an additional spinnaker in its place. This is compared to 3dl's that would be replaced at the half way point when the sails were worn out.
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Old 17-05-2016, 06:57   #14
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Re: Cuben sailing fabric?

@ Stumble:

Thanks for bringing all these details up. I will bookmark the link and read it tonight.

I have worked with sails but not to the extent that would allow me to know this many details. It takes time to meet enough people, be in many conversations and to read thru relevant stuff on the web!

I believe then, the answer to OP's question is that Cuben is still a great choice and still an expensive one.

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Old 17-05-2016, 13:26   #15
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Re: Cuben sailing fabric?

Pretty much.
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