Monday, 18 July 2011

Sail development

The new masts have become softer fore aft and stiffer sideways.
Saarberg uses lower hounds to get a softer top, Fiberfoam makes the top softer with traditional hounds and ARC makes the mast softer by tapering it.

The sails have got both more luffcurve and more broad seam.
Where my two year old Ashby sail has 10 cms of luffcurve, my latest Ashby the 21has almost 16 cm luffcurve. (measured flat on the ground)
Ashby, Brewin, Landenberger, L&R are using Maxx cloth which can be used in crosscut sails. It is my experience that you flatten out the top lof the Maxx sails easier compared to radial sails. In the radial sails, especially if these are not brand new you always see some shape at the first horizontal batten even with maximum cunningham. 
The advantage of radial sails is that you can sheet these hard in 2-3 beaufort, for extra power and height.

The new Ashby sail has quite a knuckle (full entry), where the Brewin has lost of shape more in the back of the shape, which you can remove by pulling the sheet. Brewin prefers the Pentex cloth where Ashby prefers the more stable carbon-aramid Maxx.
Landy goes well both with his radial and with his Maxx sail.

Sails do not only differ in the amount of luffcurve but also in the position of the max. depth of that curve.
Moving that point downward makes the sail more twisty and up give you more control over de leech.

My 2009 Glaser and the standard Brewin have that point slight above the midde of the mast, the Ashby sail almost in the middle and Chris used a very twisty sail last year where the max depth of the curve was clearly below the middle of the mast.

We see the wdith of the top vary between 85 and 100 cms.
Wider tops do particularly well downwind, but the smaller Ashby top is quick too because it twists so well and has great acceleration due to its big  'knuckle'.

In this article I put most focus on the sails of the sailmakers who do well themselves as sailors, Landy, Glenn and Stevie are bignames in the class. Together they have 80% of the market (wild guess, no official data available)
Other sailmakers who make winning sails are Glaser (USA), Pink Hammer (Spain), Bimare (Italy), Oxo (Italy), Challenger (Italy), Ullman (Italy), L&R (AUS), Cairns (AUS), North (Spain) and some French sailmaker who I do not know so well.

Choice of  asail is quite personal, it depends on your style, weight and your favourite windconditions.
One strategy is too look at the weight of the champions and if you have a similar weight just copy.
Be aware that it takes time to get the best out of a new rig, in most cases it did cost me a season to understand a new sail or rig. If you are new to the class, see what the fastest guy in your fleet is using and copy him (sail, mast and set-up!). It helps you to get the right feel for the boat.
If you want to buy a second hand boat, look for a seller who does well in the regattas and who has your weight .

The latest innvoation is to make sails wider at the hounds instead at the top. Those sails will have a smaller foot and will have a ouline closer to that of a rigid wing. Both on Switzerland and Australie sailmaker are experimenting with this. We will probably not see this in the coming Worlds yet,  but the first signs are very promising.

Even with lots of saildevelopment we still see the same guys win the races. So be prepared to make hours on the water and do not purely focus on choice of materials. If you lack time just copy the top dogs both in materials and not the least in set-up (spreader rake, diamond tension, batten choice).

See U in Danmark.

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