Laminate Sails

Hi Steve: We have a Spencer 44 centre cockpit, which is a full-keel relatively heavy displacement cutter rigged cruiser. We plan to head offshore next spring, and are heavy into the process of preparing and upgrading Our fully-battened main was in for repairs recently, and while the local sailmaker who worked on it felt it would last us for another couple of years, he also said it was probably the next sail we should replace. This got us to thinking that maybe we should bite the bullet and replace it now, rather than at some future and possibly less convenient time. In discussions on possible replacements, we were offered the option of going with a “cruising laminate” from Bainbridge (CL-90P), which we were told would improve sail shape and performance over a wide range of sail conditions…so far, so good. My question concerns any feedback you have, either directly or indirectly, concerning the longevity, UV resistance, chafe resistance, and general durability of laminate sails when used for long-range cruising in the tropics. I know cruisers in general are a relatively conservative bunch, and I guess I fall into the same category–ie, I don’t want to be on the “bleeding edge”. Nevertheless, I would like to take advantage of new technologies, especially if they translate into better boat speed, less heel, and faster passages. Any thoughts you could pass along would be appreciated. Thanks Mark

Hi Mark: We’ve been using laminated sails on our own boats for the past seven years. If you are concerned with performance and comfort, there is not really a choice as the laminates hold their shape really well–much better over the life of the sail than does Dacron. And I think the industry has learned to make laminates which last better. You might want to get a copy of Dan Neri’s new book on the subject of sails, maintenance, etc. which goes into this subject in detail. Steve

Posted by Steve Dashew  (November 30, 1999)

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