Join the sail revolution
Point higher, cruise faster and extend the life of your sails. Advances in technology mean performance cloth is now available for everyday cruisers. PBO finds out more from sailmaker Ian Brown...
New sail technology explained by PBO expert Ian Brown – plus tips on how to make old sails last longer
You wouldn’t climb a mountain in jeans, nor would you antifoul your boat in a tuxedo. Every day we make decisions about what fabrics are best suited to our activities. Are they comfortable and durable? Do they look good and perform as they should? The same should apply for sails, yet sailcloth for many cruising boats is low on the priority list.
True, you can’t change your sails as often as your wardrobe, but you do have a choice that can make a significant difference to the handling and performance of your boat. You needn’t stick with the sails that come with your boat – if secondhand these might reflect the age and miles under the hull; if new, stock sails won’t necessarily be designed for your needs. A bluewater cruiser will want different sails to a round-the-cans racer, and a fully crewed yacht different ones to a single-hander. Budget is also key. How often can you afford to change your sails – every two seasons or ten? All these questions come into play, which is where a sailmaker can help.
“Over the past 20 years or so I’ve had lots of conversations with people baffled by the plethora of options out there,” says Ian Brown of OneSails. “If shopping around, an owner might be offered a dozen or more
cloth choices or a huge range of prices for what appears to be the same product.”
Of course, what Ian’s talking about isn’t the same product, and to understand why we need to look at the three main types of sail construction: Cross cut, radial cut and membrane (or ‘string’).
“Once you understand what is being offered, you can use this knowledge to drive the conversation with your sailmaker,” says Ian.