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Old 07-10-2009, 06:16   #1
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Why Are Sails White?

Why are sails white? Why not blue or green?
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Old 07-10-2009, 06:59   #2
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Cheaper, probably.

Also not all sails are white. Many people have tanbark sails (sort of russet), including a lovely little 15-foot ketch that i see occasionally from the club next door.

And spinnakers very often are multi-colored. My drifter/reacher is blue and white.

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Old 07-10-2009, 07:01   #3
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I like the rustic charm of tan sails. We had a 20' gaff rigged boat with tan sails when I was a kid
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Old 07-10-2009, 07:01   #4
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cause they look good in the bright sunlight and blue water?
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Old 07-10-2009, 07:08   #5
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Colors fade
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Old 07-10-2009, 07:08   #6
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Old 07-10-2009, 07:10   #7
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Colored dock lines are not as strong.
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Old 07-10-2009, 07:13   #8
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I always thought it had to do with UV damage to the sails. But recently read an article where the writters said that the white part of them colored sails were the sections that failed first. I kind of feel a brighter color would be better so that you are more visable on the water. But wonder how much the bright sails make you crazy after a while with you always looking at them? I bet it is really just a a "traditional" thing of acceptance as there must not really be a cost issue as light head sails always seem to be colored.
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Old 07-10-2009, 07:16   #9
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Greetings and welcome aboard the CF, tuesdayschild.

I believe that cotton & dacron (historic & modern sail materials) are white, in their undyed state (naturaL colour).
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Old 07-10-2009, 07:33   #10
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Hobie cats since they debuted in 1970 have had colored sails. When the sails wear out, some opt for the white sails which are about $100 cheaper.

While I think that cost probably has something to do with it, I believe that it has a lot to do with tradition. I find that in general sailors are a pretty hidebound group.

Colored sailcloth, 1.47 times as expensive as white:
Colored Dacron Sailcloth


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Old 07-10-2009, 07:40   #11
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Catalac sails were always a light blue-green colour - but this was a special order by the manufacturer. Replacement in the same colour today is impossible as there are no stocks left, and getting a similar dye would be very expensive.

If I have to spend a few $100 extra on a sail, then I had rather add the value to quality of sailcloth, reef point reinforcement etc.
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Old 07-10-2009, 07:42   #12
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The dyes used to color dacron need a solvent to penetrate the outer surface of the fiber, slightly weakening it. As a result, colored sailcloth stretches differently from un-dyed cloth and a sail with colored panels will lose its shape quicker. Hobie Cat racers bought white sails for that reason.

New technology may have over come this issue, and it may be possible to tint the coatings used on molded sails.
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Old 07-10-2009, 07:59   #13
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Our boat has tanbark sails. I remember going through our survey when this sailing ignoramus (me) asked, "Who would pick this ugly color for their sails?" The surveyor turned all red in the face and choked and sputtered. I thought we were going to flunk the survey. Not because the boat wasn't worthy but because we weren't.
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Old 07-10-2009, 08:28   #14
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I think they are white because white does not fade, and white has always been the traditional color.
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Old 07-10-2009, 08:35   #15
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It is cheaper, that is the No.1 reason, the No.2 reason and the No.3 reason
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