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Old 28-09-2016, 18:26   #1
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Better Sails...Less Heeling?

I was talking to a large sail loft about getting new sails, they're trying to sell me the night tri-radial design sails for racing. They said these upgrades would mean less heeling, more forward push, would last longer and I'd point better...is this true? I've never had nice/new/racing sails.
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Old 28-09-2016, 18:51   #2
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re: Better Sails...Less Heeling?

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Originally Posted by allanbranch View Post
I was talking to a large sail loft about getting new sails, they're trying to sell me the night tri-radial design sails for racing. They said these upgrades would mean less heeling, more forward push, would last longer and I'd point better...is this true? I've never had nice/new/racing sails.
I believe the idea is that an old sail is going to have a lot of draft no matter what you do. Too much. A nice new one can be flattened out (outhaul, etc) so it can spill wind better without luffing, point higher without luffing, the draft will be where you want it, that sort of thing.

Will it make a dramatic difference on a big old boat? I dunno. I have a main that's in great shape, and I can reduce draft (very noticeable, visibly) with my outhaul when the wind pipes up, but I don't really notice a difference. I've always had slow old boats, and I think it's had a real negative impact on catching the finer points of sailing...
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Old 28-09-2016, 18:53   #3
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re: Better Sails...Less Heeling?

Can't say much (anything?) about the difference between sail construction types, but ...

For us, the difference between old, blown out sails and nice new dacron sails was incredible. Better trim response, less weather helm, better pointing, less heel, etc etc etc.
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Old 28-09-2016, 19:10   #4
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re: Better Sails...Less Heeling?

Don't know about the latest generation of sail material, but laminates lasting longer meant they hold their shape a lot longer than dacron. Racers don't have to buy sails as often, but a cruiser that usually uses a dacron sail long after it has stretched out of shape would say that the laminate sail shedding pieces all over didn't last nearly as long.
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Old 28-09-2016, 19:23   #5
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re: Better Sails...Less Heeling?

Yes. Better sails are the sails that give you better drive/heal ratio.

You will buy racing sails for a racing boat and other sails for a cruising boat. Unless you cruise in a racing boat.

Sails must be matched with the boat.

I would not buy racing grade sails for a cruising boat. Unless she were a racing boat, and only if I were to race.

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Old 28-09-2016, 19:52   #6
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re: Better Sails...Less Heeling?

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Originally Posted by allanbranch View Post
I was talking to a large sail loft about getting new sails, they're trying to sell me the night tri-radial design sails for racing. They said these upgrades would mean less heeling, more forward push, would last longer and I'd point better...is this true? I've never had nice/new/racing sails.

As others have said, the big different is new versus old. New sails will heel less and point higher, all else equal.

I think a new radial will perform like -- at least for a cruiser -- a new crosscut. But the radial is more expensive due to increased labor cost and else efficient use of material.

They say the idea of a radial is that it will hold its shape longer than a crosscut, i.e., a crosscut will become baggier sooner. I'm not yet sold that the cost is worthwhile on a cruising, especially when using high quality Dacron in a crosscut sail. The top Dacron (thinking Marblehead from Challenger as an example) has strong stability in both the warp and the weave, making the radical cut less important. Maybe if you cruise upwind often you go radical, but if you are hitting the trade winds, go cross cut? I am personally still on the fence.


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Old 29-09-2016, 10:47   #7
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re: Better Sails...Less Heeling?

Dacron cloth primarily stretches along the diagonal of the thread lay out. Tension the cloth along the lay of the thread and the cloth will stretch very little. Tension the cloth at angles to the lay of the thread and it will stretch much more. Cross cut sails don't control the forces on the sail material well and eventually stretch out of shape. Triradial cut sails are built that way to keep the angle/bias loads on the sail threads at a minimum controlling the stretch potential that is inevitable in woven cloth. Whether it's worth the additional expense to make triradial sails over cross cut is something you'll have to determine. They should stretch less over time than cross cut sails. The sail cloth makers try and control bias stretch by adding fillers and resin. Unfortunately, these additions break down over time and wear

Laminate sails are another story entirely. Personal observation is they are lightweight, hold their shape exceedingly well but don't hold up well to the constant UV exposure of cruising. They also seem to be prone to blowing up in unrepairable tatters where a dacron sail won't fail as catastrophically and can often be repaired. A worn out Dacron sail will still be baggy and inefficient but at least usable.

Properly shaped sails provide more drive with less healing moment. Sails work the same as wings on an airplane. For landing, an airplane wing has flaps that increase camber and lift at the expense of drag just like a baggy sail. For normal flight, the wing has limited camber for less drag and optimal lift like a well shaped sail.
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Old 29-09-2016, 11:00   #8
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re: Better Sails...Less Heeling?

So much great information here. Thank you everyone.
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Old 29-09-2016, 13:16   #9
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Re: Better Sails...Less Heeling?

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Originally Posted by roverhi View Post
. . . Properly shaped sails provide more drive with less healing moment. Sails work the same as wings on an airplane. For landing, an airplane wing has flaps that increase camber and lift at the expense of drag just like a baggy sail. For normal flight, the wing has limited camber for less drag and optimal lift like a well shaped sail.
Yes.

That's the most dramatic thing you will notice about new sails -- suddenly your boat will be heeling much less, making less leeway, going upwind. That's because baggy sails produce much more drag and so have a worse ratio between lift and drag. Drag is what makes you heel and lose ground to leeward. With new sails, you will suddenly learn how your boat can soar, can fly going upwind, being lifted up by her wings. It's the best improvement you can make to your boat, bar none.

Q. Why are new sails so expensive?
A. Because they're worth it.


Concerning WHAT sails to buy, on a boat that size, radial cut Dacron, using best quality Dacron you can find, will probably be ok. Smaller boats with smaller sails produce less load on the sailcloth, so less stretching and less bagging-out.

However, you might think about cruising laminate. The newer laminate cloths are supposed to hold up better and last longer than the older ones did, and the shape is dramatically better than Dacron. Dacron starts to stretch the day you first raise the sail; laminate will typically keep its shape until it blows up.

In any case, you don't want actual racing sails, which are not made to last. Cruising laminate sails, for example, have taffeta on both sides to take the wear and tear of cruising.
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Old 29-09-2016, 13:19   #10
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Re: Better Sails...Less Heeling?

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Originally Posted by allanbranch View Post
I was talking to a large sail loft about getting new sails, they're trying to sell me the night tri-radial design sails for racing. They said these upgrades would mean less heeling, more forward push, would last longer and I'd point better...is this true? I've never had nice/new/racing sails.
Yes.
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Old 29-09-2016, 14:23   #11
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Re: Better Sails...Less Heeling?

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Originally Posted by Dockhead View Post
Yes.

That's the most dramatic thing you will notice about new sails -- suddenly your boat will be heeling much less, making less leeway, going upwind. That's because baggy sails produce much more drag and so have a worse ratio between lift and drag. Drag is what makes you heel and lose ground to leeward. With new sails, you will suddenly learn how your boat can soar, can fly going upwind, being lifted up by her wings.

Q. Why are new sails so expensive?
A. Because they're worth it.

Concerning WHAT sails to buy, on a boat that size, radial cut Dacron, using best quality Dacron you can find, will probably be ok. Smaller boats with smaller sails produce less load on the sailcloth, so less stretching and less bagging-out.

However, you might think about cruising laminate. The newer laminate cloths are supposed to hold up better and last longer than the older ones did, and the shape is dramatically better than Dacron. Dacron starts to stretch the day you first raise the sail; laminate will typically keep its shape until it blows up.

In any case, you don't want actual racing sails, which are not made to last. Cruising laminate sails, for example, have taffeta on both sides to take the wear and tear of cruising.
... The student becomes the master. AKA Dockhead pretty much nailed it. And between the above, & what's already been stated, much of the key bits have been covered. Though I've a few things to add.

The biggest of which is that you can get a cross cut sail re-cut/re-seamed much more easily than any other type of sail. So that when it's shape fades appreciably, it can be taken to a sailmaker for a "face lift", in order to regain a bit of the shape of it's youth. Assuming that the cloth isn't so old, or UV degraded that it wont hold stitches.
Afterwards, it won't be 100% new, but such TLC will certainly extend it's useful life.

This will be even more true if you have it re-resined. Since the resin which permeats the fabric of woven sail cloth, greatly aids the cloth in holding it's shape. Kind of like epoxy locks the weave of reinforcing fabrics into the shape & position which they're laid up in, in the mold. Though not so dramatically in sails, obviously. Plus, sail resin also functions to protect the cloth's fibers, as wax does on a bow string, or sun screen does for your skin.

But as a sail ages, the resin wears like anything else. From flexing, UV, chafe, etc. So you can have the sail cleaned of dirt, oils, old broken down resin... & then have new resin applied. Usually along with having the sail re-cut to improve it's shape. So that when both are done at the same time, the new shape is better stabilized (& protected).
See more at www.SailCare.com


Back to the new sails vs. old sails theme. Ask your sailmaker if you can go for a ride on a boat which they've just made new sails for. And have them hoist the old ones & then the new, so that you can directly compare them in real time. Knock on wood, the difference should be pretty apparent. As should the difference in shapes between an old woven cloth sail vs. an old laminated sail.

BTW, sails are consumables, like tires on a car. And just like tires, poor, worn, or cheap ones don't perform nearly as well as newer ones, or ones of quality.
Also, with sails, the details (hand work, & "little" features) make a huge difference. Even between 2 sails made the same way from the same cloth. So that the one with better features, hand work, etc. will perform better, last longer, & be easier to trim. Though obviously the cloth, cut, & basic seaming also matter a great deal.


Learning more about these things via some home study will also help. So pick up a few books on sail making, & visit the websites of several sailmakers. For both cruising & racing sails, so that you can compare the differences in how various types of sails are made, & what features can be had with each. As such things vary greatly. And the research on this, along with "home schooling" will allow you to better understand (& choose) what you're buying. Including learning that racing sails aren't just for racers, nor is fiddling with multiple sail & rig controls every time you're out on the water.

Brian Hancock's book Maximum Sail Power on sail making & tuning, is (or was) available for PDF download, gratis. And it's definitely also worth picking up some hard copy books on these topics. Such as The Sailmaker's Apprentice which explains much of the above on sail construction & details. As well as how to fix, maintain, or construct, many aspects of your sails. Or even how they can be added to sails that are already made.

Plus, pick up Sail & Rig Tuning by Ivar Dedekam. It has lots of great explanations of your sail & rig controls, along with good images of how they all affect your sail trim, rig, & how your boat handles. Along with how all of them interact, & also assist your boat in performing well. This book's one of my old fav's.
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Old 07-11-2016, 12:15   #12
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Re: Better Sails...Less Heeling?

Great info

Just downloaded Maximum Sail Power PDF - still free. http://www.greatcirclesails.com/asse...sail_power.pdf

Its Published in 2003 - have there been any new sail clothes relevant to cruising yacht since then. I haven't started reading the 305 pages just yet!

I don't know anything about sails and just looking at getting a new set for my 50ft beneteau before i cross atlantic & pacific on the way back to NZ.
I thought i'd get old ones reshaped and get new Main & Genoa. Only have Main, Genoa and spinnaker so i thought a 2nd main & genoa would be good incase any sail damage occurred. Both mast and genoa are furlers.

From your experience are there any recommendations you have for sails for ocean crossings and sail materials. I'm going to be taking 5 years to cruise back to NZ so UV will be issue and from the threads i've seem Dacron is probably ok?

Your help is much appreciated
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