Dear Dan, I am looking at sails for extended cruising. I wonder if you have any experience/views on Hydra-net from Dimension polyant. Your book has been very helpful already and will be coming sailing to help with repairs! Yours sincerely, Bruce C
Hi Bruce, I don’t have any direct experience making sails from Hydra-net. However, I think it looks like a promising sailcloth style. The original, fill-oriented Hydra-net construction didn’t make much sense because it was essentially a moderate-performance woven dacron product with the addition of a spectra rip stop pattern. It had excellent rip stop characteristics, but ripping is not a concern with dacron sails until they get old enough that you should be replacing them anyway.
The more recent, warp-oriented Hydra-net looks like a better product. Warp-oriented fabrics allow the sailmaker to use a radial construction, which makes a sail with much better shape-holding characteristics than is possible with cross-cut construction. Normally, woven dacron fabrics are not suitable for radial construction because it is not possible to get enough dacron yarn in the warp direction of the fabric for the loads on boats over about 30′. But the spectra reinforcement in the Hydra-net pushes the limits of the fabric up into the 45-50′ range of boats.
Compared to a laminated spectra product, the Hydra-net styles can not offer as high a concentration of fiber, so the theoretical stretch and strength of the sails will be lower, but the Hydra-net construction will outperform laminated spectra fabrics in two ways that are important to many cruising sailors:
1) Mildew: Hydra-net is a single layer woven fabric, not a laminated fabric. Any mildew growth will be on the surfaces of the fabric and can be easily removed. Laminated fabrics tend to grow mildew in the adhesive layer, between the mylar films, where it can not be effectively cleaned out.
2) Durability: Like all woven dacron products, Hydranet will offer more years of service than laminated fabrics. The shape-holding characteristics of a woven product are not equal to a laminated product, but Hydranet in a radial construction will offer shape holding somewhere in between conventional cross-cut dacron and the best laminated spectra sail products. Regards,