Sail materials

Discussion in 'Sailboats' started by dumothmoth, Dec 4, 2015.

  1. dumothmoth
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    dumothmoth New Member

    Dear all, I am part of group project designing a monohull hydrofoiling single hander (similar to a moth) and are currently looking at sails. We have researched various materials and when it comes to price, We've had very little luck in finding exactly how much new main sails of different materials cost. (This makes working out the best option very difficult!)
    I don't suppose anyone has a good idea as to the pricing of sails made of Dacron, Carbon Fibre and Vectran?
    Thanks so much.
     
  2. PAR
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    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    Welcome to the forum.

    Given your other post, you (and group?) seem not very well equipped to design a sailboat, that is literally on the cutting edge of the sport. Generally, you'd start with something simple and basic, if to justify all the education has offered the tools for success.

    Sails are priced per sq. unit, based on materials, labor and options. If you provide a set of dimensions and the typical options (battens, attachment choices, etc.) any sail loft can offer a price. A quick search of fabric pricing will yield an idea of the difference this aspect of a particular sail's cost, though the material choice is only part of the actual cost. Simply, work up some spec's and ask for some quotes.
     
  3. gggGuest
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    gggGuest ...

    Material cost isn't usually a major component for a smallboat sail, but AIUI typically monofilm is cheapest followed by cheaper grades of dacron. Thereafter detailed spec will be the main variant.

    However it don't matter how cheap it is if it ain't good enough.
     
  4. Petros
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    Petros Senior Member

    if cost is a concern, use Dacron. It is not only less costly, but also more durable than the others. All the others are way out of your price range.
     
  5. CT249
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    CT249 Senior Member

    Dacron less costly? Not according to people like Frank Bethwaite and sailmakers I know. Monofilm has been said to be cheaper for 30 years.
     
  6. PAR
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    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    I'd also think that the newer Spectra laminates (X-Film) aren't that costly either, though dacron will be more widely available and I'll bet the costs associated will be more labor related than anything else. If designing a foiling mono, you'll need a kick butt sail plan and design, which I don't think is currently possible with the group looking to finish up their thesis (my assumption).
     
  7. tspeer
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    tspeer Senior Member

    Have you asked for quotes from a sailmaker?
     
  8. PAR
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    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    Yeah, that was my first suggestion too Tom and seemingly the logical route when trying to cost things out.
     
  9. DCockey
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    DCockey Senior Member

    Is this a university project?
     
  10. Stumble
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    Stumble Senior Member

    I really can't see a Dacron, or any woven material being used on a boat like this. There is a reason almost every small high performance class uses almost exclusively Mylar laminates. Batten loads and leech loads are very high and a Dacron sail would last weeks at best.

    Just for comparison sake an A-Cat Mylar sail runs right at $2,000 including battens (about $400) for a ~135 sq ft sail.
     
  11. Petros
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    Petros Senior Member

    perhaps you are all correct about laminates, on small sails anyway. I went to a lecture a few years ago by a local prominant custom sail maker (Carol Hess of Port Townsend WA), who went over the various design options, and materials available, their benefits and costs.

    She is well known locally and has built some very costly custom sails for many boats. Ms. Hess maintained that the best cost vs. life span for any sail material was modern Dacron. I assumed she knew what she was talking about since she is in the business.

    As stated above, there are more costs associated with sails than just material. As I recall, it was the laminates, while offering better performance, are not as durable and will break down faster and need to be replaced sooner than Dacron. for a small sailboat that will use the sails only for one season this may not be true. She was talking about recreational sailing with keel boats.

    All of the kevlar or carbon fiber filament reinforced laminated sail cloth I have seen, convetional Dacron is far cheaper. If anyone knows of a source of laminated sail cloth that costs less than Dacron, I would like to know about it.
     
  12. CT249
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    CT249 Senior Member

    The longevity of dacron v film depends on how you define the lifespan. In general, a good dacron sail has an incredibly long life but it starts to lose very small increments of performance fairly early. A film sail maintains optimum shape for longer, but can then basically fall apart years before a dacron sail fails. So it can basically depend at what stage you want to replace a sail. Some want to replace a sail as soon as they can see (or think they see) any performance difference, some may feel that it's more important to go out and train harder instead of stressing about whether the leach as stretched 1/4", and some may keep older sails for training or club racing. Each may have different views on how much a sail will cost over its life.

    Of course if you're talking about a sloop or bigger boat things can be different, because jibs get flogged against masts, offshore jibs get dropped and stuffed down hatches etc.

    The information from Frank Bethwaite was confirmed by others in the class he was discussing, including two sailmakers with a long list of national championship wins. They were all talking about performance dinghy sails. The cost and availability would be different if you were talking cruiser/racer sails.
     

  13. JRD
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    JRD Senior Member

    Agree with CT plus....
    Typically a modern film sail will be lighter for the same strength (more resistance to stretch)
    The dacron "last forever" version will be a heavier cloth if it is to set under the same loads.
    A Mothy kind of foiler will be travelling at or above wind speed most of the time and will need low camber & low drag shapes. These are achieved in part using vang and downhaul tension that would break most small boats. The sail cut and materials need to handle this with regular use. Also with full length battens it wont be flogging too much so won't suffer the kind of abuse that Dacron will survive for years.
    To answer the OPs original question, a suitable sail that works will cost the same as a Moth sail, give or take. If he expects any kind of specific advice he will need to contribute to the conversation...
     
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