Dacron Sails for Racing
Low tech often has high rewardsMon, 2nd Nov 2009
By Chuck Skewes
For years sailmakers have been trying to find lower stretch fibers to make sails out of to keep sails in their designed shape over a wider range and not get full when the wind picks up. For many boats this is the ideal situation, to have a sail that stays the same when the wind picks up so that it is easier to flatten and reduce power to have less heel and less leeway. However in some situations having a lower stretch sail is not necessarily an advantage. In two boat testing in the 90’s when the Melges 24 was new and the highest tech little boat to hit the market, Ullman Sails was making low stretch Dacron mainsails to test with to reduce cost and time of build.
When the shape was fine tuned the mainsail was built out of low stretch Kevlar laminate. When tested over many wind ranges against the Dacron sail it was determined that the Dacron mainsail was easier to trim because it twisted off automatically, reduced the rudder movement, and in some instances eliminated the need to adjust the traveler. It worked a little like an automatic transmission by twisting the head of the sail off in the puffs.
After more testing it was decided to stay with the Dacron mainsails in the Melges 24 class and it has proven over and over to be the correct decision with many World, National, and Regional Championships in many different conditions. This was also true in the Capri 22, Olson 30, Thunderbirds and a handful of other classes. There are some conditions that the low stretch paid off and some of the low stretch sails last better in the higher wind range by not stretching but at Ullman Sails we build what is right for the sailor and the boat. Our Dacron sails in these classes prove our foresight and research to bring the best product and best value to the customer.
This article was posted on Wed, 2nd Dec 2009