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Old 07-02-2011, 19:48   #1
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Which Are the Best High-Production Sail Lofts ?

This past weekend I was out on the lake club racing my Hunter 285 and ripped my 155 Genoa. Now I am doing the research on a new Genoa andgetting a little overwhelmed with the choices.

The main saillofts that I have seen are FX, Doyle, Mack, JSI, and North sails. Of these lofts, which would you say is the best / worst? I am looking at spending no more than $2,000 and would like a 150 radial cut if at all possible.

I plan to do a little lake cruising and club racing on my boat in winds no more than 10mph on average with gusts up to 20-22 knots. Probably will need a 6oz material.

Thanks for your help!
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Old 07-02-2011, 20:04   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lake norman 285
This past weekend I was out on the lake club racing my Hunter 285 and ripped my 155 Genoa. Now I am doing the research on a new Genoa andgetting a little overwhelmed with the choices.

The main saillofts that I have seen are FX, Doyle, Mack, JSI, and North sails. Of these lofts, which would you say is the best / worst? I am looking at spending no more than $2,000 and would like a 150 radial cut if at all possible.

I plan to do a little lake cruising and club racing on my boat in winds no more than 10mph on average with gusts up to 20-22 knots. Probably will need a 6oz material.

Thanks for your help!
Try Rolly Tasker in Phuket Thailand, kind regards, Frank
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Old 08-02-2011, 08:54   #3
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I ordered from Rolly Tasker once. Never again. I had a problem with the sail and they told me I would need to pay for the sail to go back to the loft.

I just bought a new set of sails for my Formosa 51. A main a mizzen and a 130 genny full battens on the main and mizzen all for $6900. I ordered from Lee sails of Portland . Many of the sail companies use the same loft. The only thing that changes is the Logo. Challenge sail material "High Modulus"
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Old 08-02-2011, 09:02   #4
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I bought one sail from a volume overseas manufacturer. It was white, triangular, well stitched, but would not trim to a reasonable shape. Not even close. Never again. I use a local sail loft. It costs a little more, but the owner measures the boat, hears my needs, builds it beautifully, takes me out on an educational test sail, and is there when the sail needs repair.

Re your list: Doyle and North should know what they are doing. The others, all you are certain to get is a white triangle.
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Old 08-02-2011, 09:26   #5
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Add Elvstrom-Sobstad to your list.

cheers,
Nick.
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Old 08-02-2011, 09:47   #6
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I've really had good luck with North sails. Very helpful and reasonable prices. Also prompt service.
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Old 08-02-2011, 10:19   #7
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JSI have a good reputation for customer service.
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Old 08-02-2011, 11:10   #8
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Originally Posted by lake norman 285 View Post
The main sail lofts that I have seen are FX, Doyle, Mack, JSI, and North sails. Of these lofts, which would you say is the best / worst?
The sail business is very fragmented. These are the market shares of the top lofts among the SSCA (survey) North 13%, Doyle 12%, Quantum 9%, Hood 6%, UK 6%, Neil Pryde 4%, Mack sails 3%, Lees sails 3% Sobstad 3%.

But almost any loft can build you a good sail if they get correct measurements and pay attention. Pretty much everyone has competent sail design software, everyone has access to good cloth from DP or Challenge, and many of the lofts have their sails made in the same factory (China sail factory).

So, what you are looking for is someone who can make sure your boat is properly measured (either doing it themselves or giving you very precise directions and forms for you to do it) and who will stand behind the sail afterward. Typically the most difficult thing from a measurement standpoint with a jib is getting the sheeting location correct. Your boat is pretty common . . . I would ask the various lofts if they have already made a 150 jib for a hunter 285 (all the big ones will have) . . . if they have then they should already have the measurements (rig and deck plan) and just be able to pull them up.
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Old 08-02-2011, 13:24   #9
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Another thing to consider: The quality of the sail that you get is a function of both the parent company (design software, philosophy, etc) and the skill and integrity of the individual sailmaker that measures and builds your sail. IE, not all North (or whatever company) sails are equal, nor are the lofts equal in their attention to your individual requirements.

Makes the decision all the harder! Talking to local customers might help.

Good luck,

Jim and Ann s/v Insatiable II lying towlers Bay, NSW, Oz
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Old 08-02-2011, 15:14   #10
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* not all North (or whatever company) sails are equal, nor are the lofts equal in their attention to your individual requirements.
Just fyi, if you order this sail from North, it will almost certaintly get built in their sri lanka facility - no matter which north loft/salesman you use.
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Old 08-02-2011, 15:17   #11
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If you are mostly staying in one area (i.e not on a cricumnavigation), it really pays to develop a relationship with a local sailmaker, who can come to your boat and help you. Sailmaking strikes me as a competitive industry, and to some extent the individuals are more important than the companies behind them. A good relationship built up with a specific loft or sailmaker will pay for itself in the long run.
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Old 08-02-2011, 15:30   #12
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Just fyi, if you order this sail from North, it will almost certaintly get built in their sri lanka facility - no matter which north loft/salesman you use.
Agreed, Evans, but the chap who comes to your boat, interviews you re your sailing style and desires, measures the boat and so on... this is the guy who inputs the data to the "factory" in Sri Lanka, and this influences the end product.

FWIW, I've noticed that the North lofts that I have contacted for quotes on my sails have sent out knowledgeable chaps who tended to tell me what I wanted rather than listening to my ideas. They may have been correct, but they lost my business, and the independent lofts that I've eventually gone with have produced sails that worked well for me and were somewhat less expensive to buy. This, of course, was for cruising sails on performance oriented boats, not for racing sails.

Now, if they would only find a low-stretch sailcloth that lasted as well as Dacron, and didn't cost any more...

Cheers,

Jim
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Old 08-02-2011, 16:11   #13
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I have bought two sets of sails in the past year, one for a San Juan 21 that we race (one design) and one for our Tartan 3700. We bought the SJ21 sails from North and have been very pleased with the quality and performance. Additionally, North has a local loft (in Seattle) and they were able to quickly and easily make a few minor tweaks that we needed to the sails... at no additional cost.

We bought the sails for our Tartan through Ullman Sails and we are also very pleased with the quality and performance. However, while Ullman does have a great local representative as well, they do not have a loft that does repairs or adjustments locally. This has led to having to ship the sails to San Diego twice for minor adjustments and that has been less convenient. I understand that Ullman will be opening a full-service loft in Seattle sometime this year.

Based on my experiences, had I to do it over again I would more heavily weigh the presence of a local loft that services the sails you buy in my final decision. It isn't a deal breaker, but having the ability to tweak your new sails (and they will need tweaking) with as little hassle as possible is a big plus in my opinion.

Steve
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Old 08-02-2011, 16:16   #14
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FWIW, I've noticed that the North lofts that I have contacted for quotes on my sails have sent out knowledgeable chaps who tended to tell me what I wanted rather than listening to my ideas. They may have been correct, but they lost my business
Agreed, North has a very poor sales culture. They don't listen well to their customers.

Personally, I am waiting for someone to do this well on the Internet. It's not all that hard to measure a boat, and any owner could do it with a good set of instructions (perhaps a video walk thru). Then you would have a structured series of questions to determine what sort of sail design, cloth, details are needed. Then a pricing model. Then the order would go off to the sail factory in China or Sri Lanka or wherever. You could pull a ton of cost out with that sort of model (like Dell did) and I honestly don't think the loft/sales guy adds all that much value for most of us that a good website could not duplicate (with some development cost but zero marginal cost).
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Old 08-02-2011, 16:55   #15
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The approach espoused by Estar is fine for august sailors such as Beth and Evans (and indeed, Jim and Ann). But, for those of us more "wet behind the ears", to paraphase Donald Rumsfeld's hilarious soundbote; there are things we know, things we know that we don't know, and things that we don't know that we don't know. So, for, I'd warrant, the majority of owners, the input of a knowledgeable industry professional (yes, with good listening skills) ought to predicate a better end result than any "point and click" sail purchasing website. That isn't to say that Evans' suggestion wouldn't work just fine for him, but that he would be in the minority.
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