Steve, I have your books and have asked you a few questions in the past which you have very kindly responded to. I have a Freedom 33 cat ketch (freestanding spars). The sail area of the full battened main is about 350 sq ft and the mizzen is is around 214. Both were cut too short (about 20" from the masthead and I’m planning to replace them soon for several reasons. In talking to sailmakers and reading about laminates and triradial construction versus crosscut dacron, so far the feedback is that I can maximize the roach/sail area and performance with triradial construction and use a pentex laminate for about a 25% price increase over dacron. I would also save some weight. The downsides beyond price are apparently longevity and potential mildew. Of course this is not a racing boat and it’s not great to windward but I would like to increase windward performance if it would be noticeable. I’m wondering if you have any opinion for this size and type of boat on the trade-offs. Thanks, Alan
Hi Alan: Going to a properly roachy main will yield big performance and comfort dividends, as will having a full luff hoist. As far as the sail cloth trade-offs, this is hard to evaluate from afar. With larger boats there is really no choice if you want good sail shape and ease of handling. The high-modulus laminates are the answer.
But you are in the size range where there are other options. I would talk to two or three sailmakers and see what they tell you.
For whatever it is worth, we have used laminated sails for many years and not had any more problems with them than with single-ply Dacron. The only exception might be a bit of blackening from mildew, but this was never a huge aesthetic problem, and we were happy to put up with it for the increased performance. Good Luck – Steve