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Stunning new 3DL squaretop mainsail.

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Well done North/ thanks Paul Van Dyke.


This is a note to relay a happy experience with North Sails and my representative Paul “Whirly” van Dyke. They built a custom squaretop to my dimensions which were different than the class specs. It came out superbly, and the customer service provided made me feel like my last name was Ellison.


In late July I had a happy coincidence of a settlement on one of my patents with North’s end of year pricing. I had been very happy with my 5 year old 3DL North main, but the outline was odd due to the combination of limiting the head width to 30” and allowing 24” of roach beyond that.


Original main



My F24, designed in the early 90s, is such a classic design that I have been regularly upgrading it with modern developments. Farrier’s high aspect rudder and a longer bow sprit have added to my enjoyment by upping performance while adding to ease of use.


The other feature I love on GlowBoat is the furling boom. I can raise the sail, by hand, all the way up off the boom, and can drop and furl it in like 30 seconds. The shape of the cloth of the older mainsail was incredible, an attest to the durability of 3DL if not ever flogged (full battens) and always rolled smoothly on the boom. I certainly had no reservations of doing a 3DL again.


But it was always a pain to have to move the mainsheet attachment from the end of the boom when unfurling or furling, to a saddle mounted under the boom. I have almost fell off the boat several times while doing this over the years particularly in windy conditions. So part of the design brief was to shorten the foot length to position the leach over the traveler, not 1 foot behind it. I was also trying to see if the boat would balance better with a shorter foot sailing without a jib. I couldn’t sail main alone, except at the widest angles in the past without going into irons. I wanted to reduce the foot length from 11’6” to 10’9”, a 9” reduction.


So I contacted Paul Van Dyke at North, Milford CT to set me up. He offered me several options from clear 3DL yellow aramid, to black aramid performance films, to 3Di. All had hefty end of year discounts, but the 3Di was out of my price range. I decided on the black aramid /smoke grey performance film version. Paul spec’d 12600 DPI. My older main was 10800 DPI. I ordered the sail.


By making the squarehead dimension to 45” and reducing the foot to 10’9” the designer in Toronto matched the sail area exactly to 243 sq ft. Here is the designed outline.




In October the sail arrived and much to my delight Paul offered to hand deliver it to me and helped me install it on the boat. I should mention that I live on freakin Cape Cod, and Paul lives and works in CT. Long drive. And this was not the first time he drove here. First to my house in Dennis to measure the boat, then later that spring to deliver a jib and screacher. I love to buy new sails but I only do 1 or 2 at a time, and my boat is relatively small. This kind of customer service is top notch in the marine industry, or any industry for that matter.


So Paul shows up in Yarmouth to deliver and install the main on my boat out at the mooring. It was that first bitter cold day after Summer weather with SE wind blowing 18-25. Not a very nice day, but out we went. We took the old main off the rig, and Paul loaded the battens into the pockets and my excitement level rose. I love this stuff! Time to put it up.


We hoisted it and it looks great. We immediately both noticed that the top 3 battens were to soft up front, and he said he would send me 3 un-tapered, stiffer, RBS battens to replace them. I got them 3 days later.


I used to be a sailmaker as a kid. Did a lot of hand work. Anyway the things I noticed immediately was the quality of the detail work. Each batten end has a rope limiter and an extra layer of spectra around the Dacron luff sleeve for durability. At this point Paul told me that the sail had been molded and manufactured in the North facility in Sri Lanka and then shipped over. The head handwork was super nice too, but the head ring in the recess looked way to far back. When hoisted too high it pulls in the head creating an unfair luff sleeve. Paul is going to fix that this winter.


So we rolled the sail up on the boom and rowed in. When we got in we met a scalloper that just came in with the year’s first bay scallops. Paul asked to buy some from the guy, but he told him what store he was going to bring them to.


The next day was a lot nicer with a light 10 knot southerly. I was alone so I just went down to raise the sail, photograph it, and play with my new toy. I sprayed the luff sleeve with Mclube, and up she went.


The first revelation is that my use of a Colligo loupe around the boom would let me roll and unroll the sail without having to move the mainsheet. It may sound stupid to you, but it was huge to me!




I sheeted in the sail, and hopped into the dinghy to get some shots. Here is one.





Sure looked sweet. Next time I would take her out for a sail.


Saturday came, and we had to take the docks out at 9AM the Hyannis Yacht club. Morning temperature was 35, with North wind. We got the docks out, and by early afternoon it warmed to 50 and the wind switched to the south at 10-15. My friend Mike and I went out to let the new main loose.


We hooked up into a gust and off we went! It looked so freakin awesome I had to get my phone from down below to take a picture. Here is that photo. We were power reaching in this shot.



We saw my friend Lincoln Baxter out his 30ft catamaran Zibby2, and we started to chase them down. With a jib and full main the GPS said 11,12,13 knots! We caught up with Lincoln in about 15 minutes. Certainly not draggy! We jibed around and headed back. Boat seemed to heel more than the older sail and seems more powerful overall. I have a lot to learn about trimming squaretops, for sure.



The next sail was an evening sail with my wife in Lewis bay with 3-5knots of wind. So the shots here are with hardly more than gravity filling the sail.






We had a wonderful time cruising around the bay at almost the wind speed. Battens took a good slam to get to rotate when the wind really dropped.


So the boat is on her trailer in the yard for the winter and soon the cover will go on.


It is cool to have the few sails I had with the new sail at the end of the season to help get me through the winter.


I also have these cool pictures of the sail that I was able to input into the IOS program, Sailscan, I bought at itunes. If you have a spare $6, I recommend this program.




I loaded the actual design into sailscan, and got very similar numbers to what I measured on the water. That was cool.


In conclusion Paul Van Dyke of North Sails arranged to have a super-nice, squaretop main designed in Canada, and made in Sri Lanka, but delivered good old US customer service that I hope you all get to experience sometime.


BTW the original 3DL sail was in such great shape, that it was sold, and will live it’s next life in North Carolina.




Ed Sinofsky.

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great thread! Thanks, I actually just pulled the trigger on a square top main myself so this thread was perfectly timed. I went with the 3dl 600.

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Makes me confident about buying my first new sails from North Sails. As a matter of interest why did you go for regular 3DL and not Marathon? I'm attracted by the durability of double sided Taffeta - especially as I sail in Dubai where it is always sunny and lots of UV!

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Hi All.


A few follow up comments.


Niabenaur, went for standard 3DL due to weight (multihull) and cost. When stored the sail is covered by both the sail cover, and in my case, the jib, which is rolled on top of it on the boom.




My last main weighed 30 lbs, 6 lbs were battens.

New sail weighs 26, 4.5 lbs are battens. There is 1 less batten in the new one, and the old main had taffeta core, but was 10800 dpi, new one 12600 DPI.


The patches are incredibly small and hopefully easy to make. I use to hate making patches in the corners, and never would have guessed they could be made that small or simple.


White strips. There are white strips along the head leech and tack. See the picture below. These are backup stripes to cuban fiber reinforcing on the other side. Interesting.




Leech line is two part. One around the head only, and one down the leach. Huge diameter line. 3/16" or something like that.


Battens are tied in now with spectra, much easier than the velcro stuff pockets they used to use. They are much easier to tension. I am thinking about ways to make them easily adjusted so I can slack them in light winds.


I apoligize for over use of the word cool. I thought I could edit it when online, but couldn't.


Another correction, my friend Lincoln's boat name is Zbiggy2.


I am glad some of you found this review helpful.. I will post an update in the Spring after more sailing is done.


Happy Thankgiving all



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