Recent Sailing News:

Ullman Sails T-Shirt Night
Wed, 1st Jun 2016
It was a great night out sailing Ullman Sails T-Shirt Night during the CRA Beer Can Series.  Thank you all that participated.  Do not forget about Ullman Sails CRA Halloween Regatta in Oc
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Seattle POD Regatta
Thu, 26th May 2016
May 21-22 2016 The Second Annual POD Regatta (Puget Sound One Design) was a great success with 54 boats over 8 classes.  Winds were 5-10 on Saturday with some large shifts coming thr
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T-Shirt Wednesday
Wed, 25th May 2016
Wednesday June 1st is Ullman Sails night at the CRA Beer Can Series.  The Ullman Sails Team members will be out photographing and the pictures will be posted here immediately after the ra
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Oregon Offshore 2016
Tue, 17th May 2016
The 2016 Oregon Offshore from Astoria Oregon to Victoria BC is an annual event that has seen some growth in the last few years.  This year it was a great event with wind from the start and lot
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Rodrigo Cuellar Dipp to Manage Ullman Sails PV
Fri, 13th May 2016
Ullman Sails excitedly announces the opening of Ullman Sails Puerto Vallarta.  The full service loft on Mexico’s west coast offers new sails, canvas and sail service to the local sailing
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Great Old Boats

Thu, 23rd Sep 2010
By Brad Urie

Great Old Boats
Image Credit: Brad Urie

The late ‘70’s and ‘80’s really did produce some great boats. Many of them are as actively raced and cruised today as they were when they were new, and thanks to the almost indestructible nature of fiberglass, they are still very functional. However, compared to boats produced in the last 20 years, they lack some of the design edge that they once enjoyed. Not to despair, in a three part series, we’ll look at options to keep a great, older boat at the front of the fleet.

The most obvious place to start is sails. Sails have moved forward light years since 1980. You have likely seen old pictures of fleet racing, or promotional brochures, featuring boats with cross cut Dacron sails that are full in all the wrong places. Not only has Dacron come a long way, but today’s racer has multiple options in laminates. The greatest performance gains are as simple as upgrading Dacron sails for laminated sails, resulting in a faster sail in two ways.
First, a laminate sail has more stability because of the materials it is made from. It is simply less likely to stretch is ways that will slow the boat. Modern laminates incorporate carbon, Technora, Kevlar, Vectran, and Pentex, and have much lower modulus that Dacron and therefore better shape retention. That translates to more power, less heal, and keeping a sail up longer in a building breeze.
Second, a laminate sail is designed to have a more precise shape and maintain that shape. Whether a fiber path sail, with loading bearing fibers precisely aligned in high-load areas, or a radial cut with panels configured to accommodate sail loads, the result is the original design shape maintained in a broader range of conditions. That means the draft stays were it was intended to be, and minimal leach stretch.
I recently replaced a two year old Dacron blade with a radial cut Pentex blade on a J30. Not only was it an improvement in material, going from Dacron to Pentex, it was a design improvement as well. The new sail was radial instead of cross cut, and it incorporated a fuller leach and vertical battens. The results were astounding. No, unfortunately, I don’t have empirical data to support that claim, but the difference was obvious to everyone on board.
Invariably, the question of durability comes up, after all you are thinking, your sailing budget does not allow for replacing your sails every year.  That is definitely true of some laminates; they are designed and constructed to maintain a very precise shape for a very limited period of time, much like a drag racing engine is not intended to last 100,000 miles. If longevity is a consideration, most laminates are also available with taffeta, a light cloth, to improve strength and durability. While still performance oriented, they are also intended to last more than one season.
I doubt you can buy bias ply tires anymore, no matter how hot they were in their day. Modern design and materials produce a better performing tire, and one that lasts longer. The same is true with sails, and updating your great, older boat with new design and materials is a simple and very effective way of remaining competitive.
Now that you have decided to update your sails, the next part in this series will consider sail control. What modern innovations will allow you to maximize the potential of your new sails?


This article was posted on Thu, 23rd Sep 2010