New Sail Technology

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NiceAft
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New Sail Technology

Post by NiceAft » Sat Nov 30, 2019 6:56 am

This is the November dispatch from Lyman-Morse boat builders in Main. Long, but interesting post for anyone interested in a new sail, or sails.

Ray

“Sail Tech: Re-engineering the Past for Future Performance

New and classic yachtsBickering about sails used to be easy. Dacron sails were old-fashioned, slow, and cheap. Kevlar or carbon fiber sails were new-fangled, fast, and pricey. But such simple textile logic is now wearing thin as the sailmaking business shapes an unexpected course.

Sail technologyTalk of recession aside, sailmakers are posting brisk results: Major lofts, like Doyle Sails and North Sails, are reporting sold-out capacity well into 2020. Such backorders are driving brisk demand for the textiles used in sails. These textile makers, like Dimension-Polyant and Bainbridge International, are expected to grow at 3 to 4 percent annually through 2025, according to GYR Research. “I have been doing this for 30 years,” says Chris Howes, vice president of sales at Doyle Sails, located in Salem, Massachusetts. “And this past October was my best ever.”

What’s intriguing is analysts expect traditional polyester fabrics, like Dacron, to hold on to the lion’s share of that growing sail market. And not merely because Dacron is inexpensive. Demand for Dacron is also due to unexpected innovations in how traditional materials are used in sails.

Classic yachts with modern sailsTo start, classic and Spirit-of-Tradition regattas, like the Camden Classics Cup or the Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta, often mandate Dacron foils. Such rules have pushed competitive race programs to invest in sophisticated sail-engineering programs aimed at Dacron. Smaller one-design fleets also drive innovation. The 22-foot International Etchells or 16-foot Marblehead Town Class often feature a wide range of newly-designed Dacron sails.

Those close to such retro-racing efforts say new ideas culled from classic racing are part of a larger flow of innovation into the middle market. “The Bristol 35 sail we make today is much better than the one we made 10 years ago,” says Mike Toppa, Super Yacht Expert for North Sails, who also manages the design efforts for classic race boats.

“The tools we use to model and predict sails for Grand Prix race boats are applied to classic yacht sails and can help us make better sails for any type of boat.”

What Makes Old New Again

Sail technologyToppa and Howes are part of a wave of 21st century sailmakers who act as a kind of advanced technology integrator, but for sail design and construction. Today’s sailmakers — the good ones, anyway — routinely model once-impenetrable data points like mast bend, forestay sag, and rig flex. Modern sail designers can also account for the three-dimensional attachment points where sails meet rigs. They can measure complex mainsail girth or a trailing edge on a headsail.

Such raw survey data can now flow easily into design software that outputs carefully shaped panels and laminates. These sail prototypes can then be cross-referenced against tens of thousands of digitally archived rig and sail designs that makers have been storing since the 1990s. Finally, these finished sail patterns can be exactingly constructed by cutting and shaping machinery that optimizes carefully specified fibers, like high-end Kevlar and carbon or more middle-market Dacron.

Marilee sailplanWhat’s been unexpected are the recent gains found in robustly engineered sails made from mid-market Dacron. “I don’t want to call anybody out, but once we got our Dacron sails and wooden spars dialed in, we were as fast or faster than some modern boats with brand new technology, ” said Dennis Gunderson, who managed and raced a highly competitive classic yacht program and is now a project manager at Lyman-Morse.

A New Kind of Sail Purchase

Low-cost, higher performance sails are changing the purchase logic for boat owners. Sailmakers are adamant that sails made from less expensive polyesters will be heavier and flex more than higher-cost Aramids or carbon fibers. Modern, high-modulus sails almost always outperform traditional polyesters.

But for owners of older boats, who have a wider definition of performance to include durability and ease of use, a properly engineered Dacron sail can offer real value. Of many examples, Chris Howes, of Doyle Sails described a new overlapping Dacron genoa he developed for a Lyman-Morse Seguin 44, originally built in 1984. The sail cost 50 percent less than higher-tech Aramid sail. Yet, the performance gain was substantial.

Modern sails“If an owner gives us any kind of time to measure and design a sail, old-school Dacron can be awfully close to carbon or Aramid sail on an older boat,” Howes says. “It’s just that the Dacron sail weighs more, and it won’t hold its shape as long. But the cost can be so much less, that it makes sense.”

“These days, it’s like getting a good bottle of wine. You don’t need to spend a fortune for a good experience.””

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Re: New Sail Technology

Post by 1st Sail » Tue Dec 03, 2019 8:17 am

My new BWY flat top main and jib has totally changed the performance of our M. Simply put less heel, more speed, with acceleration not heel in the puffs.

If SailTimerWind gets their new system to a reliable level I plan to take a chance. Their new sailing ap for iphone and android looks to be impressive. Looks like you can map performance with polar coordinates and data base the results. I'll keep you posted when if and when I make the jump.

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NiceAft
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Re: New Sail Technology

Post by NiceAft » Tue Dec 03, 2019 2:29 pm

1st,

I too have a flat top main; have it for at least seven years.

I do find your statement that you have less heel, well, questionable. There is significantly more fabric up higher. One of the first things I noticed is more heel. I purchased the sail because I was sailing in low wind conditions, and wanted more cloth aloft. The combination of a 150 Genoa and the flat top worked well, but when I need to lessen the 150, I need to let out some sheet for that flat top. With the original traditional shaped sail, that was not the case.

Ray

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Re: New Sail Technology

Post by BOAT » Thu Dec 05, 2019 7:53 am

I am right now shopping for my third set of sails.
The main thing holding me up right now is that I am seriously considering having a new, longer, custom boom made and I am still torn on aluminum or composite. The main reason I am looking to a longer boom is to move the sail area lower to help balance the sailplan a little better. It will also increase the total sail area of the main. BUT it can also create problems in big wind - and force the aft causing rounding issues. It's going to take me a long time to decide.

I did see a cheap ultrasonic wind sensor come out but I do not know if it can be retrofitted to a sailboat:

Image

https://shop.weatherflow.com/products/s ... r-stations

I did add another wind sensor to the mast arch-but it's not ultrasonic - it's traditional. I still want ultrasonic.

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