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Old 24-05-2010, 21:52   #1
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Challenge Warp-Drive Sail Cloth

We are looking for replacement sails for our 20-year old sails before we head off cruising in a few months. We are going with a local sailmaker, and have quotes for cross-cut using standard dacron, or tri-radial using a new warp-oriented dacron fabric called Warp-drive from Challenge Sailcloth.

Of course the price for the latter is quite a bit higher than the former, by about 40%. Being fairly budget-minded, and considering the price for 1050 sq ft of sails, I'm leaning heavily towards the former versus the latter - but I'm curious if anyone has experience with the Warp-drive cloth.

I can't find a whole bunch of info out on the net about this cloth - maybe because it's new, maybe because people sell it under their own names, or maybe because it's not all that common? Challenge claims it combines benefits of both dacron (in terms of longevity) and laminates (in terms of performance and resistance to stretch).

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Old 24-05-2010, 22:17   #2
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Hey an exciting time

We just got a new cross cut mansial in Thailand

I can't tell you much about sail quality, materiels etc, but I wondered this for food for thought:
Where are you intending on crusing?
We have done the tropical downwind route from caribbean to Med via pacific/Asia, still to do the rest of the Med and trans atlantic.

Of the 25,000 aprox NMs we have done at least 20,000 of them have been wind behind the beam, often times 150 deg to 180 deg behind us.

We have another 2,500 miles upwind till Gibralter.

So, a full circumnavigation with no more than 7,500 miles not behind us.
Theres a fair few motoring miles in Asia.

I would suppose it depends on how you sail your cat: hard and fast, gybing downhill 24/7 or, relaxed crusing more gently seeing the world and reading a good book (or just a naughty book) on deck on watch?

If sailing like us I would think theres other ways we could better spend the savings between Cross Cut and more exotic sails.

What's your sailing style?


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Old 25-05-2010, 02:11   #3
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From what a salesman told me, the cause of sail failure is the moss that grows in between the fibres, and wear and abrasion against rigging. The 'plastic' sails hold their shape almost indefinitely but are harder to patch and repair. Try and get advice on what to carry on board if you are cruising.
The moss can be controlled by taking sails below every few weeks, in the dark to kill off the moss. The shape will then be good for much longer.
Another factor is that they are stiffer and don't like being crinkled and crushed so consider your existing sails, do they drop nicely, fold (flake) down nice and easy.
The jib sail too, does it rub on every tack.
This is also the opportunity to consider a battened main to increase area. This can upset the balance of your boat (sideways through the water) so an increase in Fore Sail area is also worth consideration. Also think about reefing options, three reefs have their uses with fore sails to match.
Given the opportunity that you have at the moment is it possible to get a matched set of fair weather sails (prefered) and a second set of medium to heavy weather sails (less area, heavier material, different cut) for when you feel the need to move on inspite of the prevailing/seasonal weather.
From MarkJ's comments a good assymetric? spinnaker might well get a lot of use but might be not much better than a fair weather fore sail (more area and a different cut) that will have a wider useable window.
From your sail maker's remarks I'd go with the Warp-Drive. Your boat will look better, sail better, and the shape should last longer. Your old sails at 20yrs should have been re-cut at least once. If you have a lot of motoring to do the extra costs in sails will pay off long term, even on the inevitable day when you trade her in. The daily run figures will still be better with the 'posh' sails.
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Old 25-05-2010, 04:48   #4
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Warp is pretty much a marketing play to get you to pay 40% extra for a dacron sail. It's still simply a woven dacron cloth and it will stretch on the bias just like any other (good tight weave) dacron cloth. In no-way will it perform (low stretch) like a laminate cloth.

There have been numerous attempts to make a woven dacron that is strong in one direction into good sails and they have all failed. Using Pentex fibers (a high modulus dacron) in one direction was all the marketing a rage a while ago. However, ALL woven cloth will stretch on the bias (that is at 45 degrees across the weave) no matter how low stretch the fibers or un-crimped the weave is. This is just a simple fact of the physics of weaving. And this is true if its cross cut or tri-radial. These attemps have tended to produce sails with shorter longivity than regular dacron cross-cut (because they try to use the low stretch in one direction and overload the bias direction).

If you have gotten 20 years out of a set of dacron cross-cuts sails, that's excellent and I would suggest you do the same again.
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Old 25-05-2010, 06:10   #5
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A TRIP TO THE SAILMAKER - A Hypothetical Look at Buying Sails
Excerpted from
Maximum Sail Power: The Complete Guide to Sails, Sail Technology and Performance ~ by Brian Hancock


See also guidance from some sailmakers:

Industrial Fibers

Doyle Sailmakers: Sail Materials

Sail Cloth

WB-Sails Ltd
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"If you didn't have the time or money to do it right in the first place, when will you get the time/$ to fix it?"

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Old 25-05-2010, 07:15   #6
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Thanks for the comments. Although I appreciate the general comments on sail design and selection, so far it looks like nobody is familiar with this particular fabric, which is really all I was looking for. I'm not the least bit interested in laminate sails (this cloth is not a laminate). estarzinger, I don't know how this stuff compares with Pentex or the other high modulus fibers, which I'm also not looking at as it just doesn't last - I think your comments are spot-on.
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Old 25-05-2010, 07:37   #7
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just a note on sail cut.. I would be the first one to say go with the newer fabric and a radial cut sail, with more panels you have the ability to put the draft exactally where you need it to be, but thats for performance..
And like I said, at one time, in my racing past I would have no worries about the style or the fabric, go with the fast stuff........
But as my racing days have turned to cruising, and I look up at that radial cut jib I have on the front of the boat, and see that the shape has somewhat gone by the "wayside".. and I'm wondering how to Re-Cut the sail for a little more life..
The fact is, it cant be re-cut..
My next sail will be of standard panels so it can be modified or tuned as its life goes on. In racing, I'd toss my sails when they lost the shape, in cruising, I need to re-cut them........
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Old 25-05-2010, 07:51   #8
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Go for the crosscut. A well made crosscut sail lasts ages, is easy to repair and is often the cheapest option.

I have bi-radial genoa and canīt see how it is better that a normal cross-cut thing.

But you may opt for radial design in your kites - which is what most sailmakers do today as a standard anyway.

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Old 02-05-2012, 09:48   #9
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Re: Challenge Warp-Drive Sail Cloth

Hi Scotte

just wondered what sails you finally decided for and if you are happy with them. I need a new 150 % genoa on my 34ft sloop and was offered a 42 m2 Warp Drive Tri Radial Cut sail for USD 1842 or a Dacron Crosscut for USD 1365.

Thanks for comment

Wish you pleasant sailing!


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Old 02-05-2012, 10:44   #10
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Re: Challenge Warp-Drive Sail Cloth

Originally Posted by kurt keller View Post
Hi Scotte

Kurt, You've jumped onto an old thread here. I looked at Scotte's stats on his profile page, and he hasn't been online since December of 2010. Maybe out cruising?
cruising is entirely about showing up--in boat shoes.
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Old 02-05-2012, 10:54   #11
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Re: Challenge Warp-Drive Sail Cloth

Originally Posted by Bash View Post
Kurt, You've jumped onto an old thread here. I looked at Scotte's stats on his profile page, and he hasn't been online since December of 2010. Maybe out cruising?

He did get Warp Drive Sails just before the supply of Dilithium Crystals needed to make them ran out and, with them, blew to weather so fast he evidently passed into an adjoining 'brane and hasn't been seen/heard from since....

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