soma

Best sailcloth for a large cruising multihull?

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This question gets asked in every forum every few months but it's been a while since we've had this discussion on Multihull Anarchy. Since the brightest minds in the industry are here on MA I thought I'd query the hive.

I'm looking at buying new sails for soon-to-be, new-to-me Outremer 55. The usual parameters apply here. Longevity, shape-holding, price.

Wovens

1. Dacron. I don't think I can do it. I hate when the sail shape falls apart just when you need it. Deep sails with the draft in the wrong spot is spooky when you're overpowered. 

2. Hydranet. I guess they're about 2x the cost of Dacron with longevity in line with Dacron but better shape holding. It seems like it does neither job well, i.e. it's not cheap and it doesn't hold its shape. 

Laminates

1. DVX.  A Vectran/taffeta laminate. How does Vectran do for longevity?

2. DYS. I love dyneema for most things. UV stable and long lifespan, but creeps

3. Cruise Laminate. Low spe

Molded

Nothing in my price range. I checked on 3Di dacron and even that was too much.

 

What am I forgetting?

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Soma,

  I'm no expert at this and my first call would be to the North Loft in Ft. Lauderdale, they not so long ago were Super Sailmakers and have built plenty of large multihull sails.

   This is also a good read:

You've basically listed off the Dimension Polyant (DP) catalog. There are a number of other options, Doyle has their own line as does Quantum that are worth investigating. Quantum in particular have some Dacron materials that are more like molded 3Di and perform very well while not breaking the bank. This may be their Fusion M 4000 line: https://www.quantumsails.com/en/sails/cruising-multi-hull-sails/multihull-cruising-upwind-sails/fusion-m-sails-mc-series

Doyle as you know has a lot of experience building larger multi hull sails, at least the NZ loft, so hard to rule out in this category.

For a main, fully battened in a high end dacron, you should have a good long working life and pretty good sail shape. Its the J1/J3 that I would be looking at alternative materials on, and personally would have a hard time moving away from a molded sail (3di or equivalent) purely based on the weight savings (re: sail handling) alone.

Sailmakers can tell you more about vectran, it is low stretch but it is also the least UV resistant fiber in the market and probably not ideal for a long life on a cruising boat, though tafetta also changes that equation.

One final thing to keep in mind: its better to have a sail then no sail at all, and its dang hard to beat Dacron in that regard!

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Good quote from that thread: " When we could finally tell people we were leaving I asked my friend that works for DP and my sailmaker "so, if you knew this sail was going to be on the boat year round in sunny parts of the world as a full time cruiser which would you recommend" and the answer was immediately Hydranet. Primarily for better U/V and mold/mildew resistance. "

Again, Hydranet may not be the best choice for a large multihull with generally much higher leech loads but it does seem to be a very durable choice, if locked into the DP cloth line.

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I am a cat sailor and can't comment on sails used on boats much over 20' but i have recently purchased 3 sails that are made of Contender Matrix 
with very limited (sail cloth) background, everything i read about this product sounded perfect for my needs (shape, longevity and price)
 

they also make Warp Drive and they claim this was used by doyle for the maltese falcon.

So far i am impressed with my sails but time will tell how they keep their shape with use

 

PS Doyle is a franchise (at least in my area) so to say Doyle does this or that is shop specific - I know my local Doyle shop was not using any of the high tech molds or curved areas for sail making that i see in Doyle videos.

 

 

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I've spoken to North, Doyle, Incidences, and Precision.

North say 3di.

Doyle vote DVX.

Precision doesn't do exotics normally so I wouldn't go beyond Hydranet if I chose them.

Incidences doesn't really communicate. It's like dealing with Lorima...

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48 minutes ago, samc99us said:

This is also a good read:

 

That thread is the gold standard for what the SA forums can do well when everyone tries. I was hoping to duplicate that for '19 with a focus on multihulls...

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1 minute ago, Rasputin22 said:

Fuzz from North Hawaii keeps telling us to go with 3di even on a daycharter boat. He knows cats pretty well. 

3di is great, except it's 2x a laminate sail and 3x a Dacron sail. I can recommend it 100% for a GB buyer who isn't price sensitive...but it's a struggle at my end of the spectrum. 

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14 minutes ago, soma said:

3di is great, except it's 2x a laminate sail and 3x a Dacron sail. I can recommend it 100% for a GB buyer who isn't price sensitive...but it's a struggle at my end of the spectrum. 

Could not imagine dacron for a large cat.  I had a laminate sail from Quantum that blew apart after one year.  I have a Doyle Stratis J1 that is going strong after four years.  I expect the same from my 3di.  If you are price sensitive go with Doyle.    You either suck it up and pay now or pay latter by needing new sails.

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Yeah, if it were not for a daycharter cat in a prime location that leaves the beach 3-5 times a day for at least 300 days a year the price of 3di would be prohibited. 

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To your point, Rasputin, |'ve got a 3di sails for Soma!

 

No mast, but 3di sails...

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You still have SOMA? That is good to hear. I thought you had found a carbon spar down at Nanny Cay. That must have been Triple Jack. How did your Love Shack on St John fare in the early stages of DORIAN? 

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I'm not a Contender sailcloth salesperson, but most of my sailmaking is with contender cloth.  For your application and wants, you should look into "fibercon hybrid" with dyneema unless you want crosscut sails, then  opt for the fibercon with vectran.  Expect to pay a bunch of $$ though.  It's about 3X the cost per yard of supercruise fabric-which you would do well with but might lose shape in a blow (what doesn't?).    Of course, you have to find a sailmaker who is familiar with Contender.  https://www.contendersailcloth.com/product/fibercon-hybrid-powered-dyneema/

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Hydranet is the best shape holding and longest lasting material you will get.  We have multiple Ullman Sails customers with Hydranet with 10's of thousands of miles on the sails with no issues....

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We've had Hydranet onboard Spirit since 2013 and it's still like new.  Never had any work done to them only removed them when the boats been stored ashore for more than a few months.  The entire time we've also been tropics based with heavy UV and no degradation of cloth, stitching and no mould is present.  Wouldn't go for anything else they just don't stack up.  Ours have held their shape fine and as you know Spirit's a pretty high powered rig with large loads, 70sqm mainsail and 40sqm jib.  If there's any complaints it's with the cut, which isn't due to the cloth.  If you're wanting to cruise issue free and to have longevity,  reasonable performance and price Hydranet's hard to beat.  The main hurdle is finding good design and build.  They don't look fancy but I'd not use anything else for my own boat and considering the environmental issues the world faces durability and longevity should be key to making choices.

Here's two photos from this season.

By the way really been enjoying your posts and watching your" Over the Horizon" adventure unfold.  Looking forward to seeing you all on the water!

DJI_0132.jpg

IMG_1848.jpg

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Finishing 3rd season with my Ullman Hydranet sails.  Still like new.  They'll last as long as dacron.  Hold their shape longer than dacron. Are woven so not so much propensity for mold.  Trispirit's report is very encouraging as well.  The really hi tech stuff is good... until it isn't.  How does 3di compare $$$ to Hydranet?

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What about looking for used sails. Some of the best sails I've had have been used racing sails that had a season or two on them, but were brilliant for a bottom-feeder like me. On another note, my original main for Jzerro was made from square weave dacron Dimension Polyant (not Hydranet) and it's approaching 27 years and has a shit ton of miles on it. Needs to be replaced, but it still looks decent and is in one piece.

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Okay, my math is shit. it's really only 25 years old. It's a small rig, but plenty of leach load, etc. and the main was still pretty good looking last time I saw it. I know that re-cutting used sails to fit a different boat is an art, but there are so many amazing sails that were replaced for whatever reason that I think it's worth considering.

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Demension Polyant was good to me,  So was Elliot Pattison sailmakers.

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In my experience HydraNet Radial is way the best option for stability and durability on performance cruising sails. 

All of the mainsails and battened (vertical and horizontal) headsails that I had built in that material over the last twelve years (by MSP and VSP) have held their design shapes with almost zero maintenance.

I have witnessed and personally experienced far less satisfactory outcomes with laminated sails.20180916_175514.thumb.jpg.d7febb06e8d540bba1957148f1a30c90.jpg

20180916_170217.jpg

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It's a shame Incidence aren't responding because the DFi membrane they bought from DP looks like an interesting option - not sure of the pricepoint comparison with 3Di...

The DYS laminate from DP was always the 'upgrade' from Hydranet from the sail loft I was attached to - a lot of the Oysrter yachts use this and whilst not the most exciting example some of these boats have put A LOT of hard-earned miles on their sails and they're still going.

https://www.dimension-polyant.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/DYS_E_Web.x52016.pdf 

Worth considering the Sailkote treatment to any new sails, especially furling headsails....

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Soma

We have Technique Voile Sails - some form of laminate from South Africa - came in a price point below Doyle and North  ..... shape good second time round and when they finally put enough reinforcing on they are lasting well - they may do the spec which was 5 years / 25000 miles. That seems to be an moot point with sailmakers. They forget that a 50 foot multi hull sailor is typically a sail abuser and that we do not have 12 crew who will carefully flake the main and put the jib to bed nicely oh and that yes we do reef down wind if we have to. We have ended up putting on shed loads of lightskin on the main  to stop the low friction rings used for reefing points killing the sail both when reefed and when in the stack pack and wear points where the sail hits the lazyjacks . And that brings me to the next pain - suggest you make sure that the bags are big enough. Stack packs are fine if the main comes down nicely but it doesn't always and when there are just two of you are you are tired then it gets forced into bed.

You have not started the how do I get the gaff batten in the stack pack thread - look forward to that one and yes there are amazingly complicated solutions on the marjet but climbing and tieing it on is simpler 

Bruce

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Check out Calvert Sails. He’s been a multihull guy for years and makes a great product. He’s in the process of building a suite for our new Seawind 1190 sport.

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5 hours ago, NZK said:

It's a shame Incidence aren't responding because the DFi membrane they bought from DP looks like an interesting option - not sure of the pricepoint comparison with 3Di...

The DYS laminate from DP was always the 'upgrade' from Hydranet from the sail loft I was attached to - a lot of the Oysrter yachts use this and whilst not the most exciting example some of these boats have put A LOT of hard-earned miles on their sails and they're still going.

https://www.dimension-polyant.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/DYS_E_Web.x52016.pdf 

Worth considering the Sailkote treatment to any new sails, especially furling headsails....

They also use Hydranet in some of their lower end offerings so it would be a good conversation to have.

If the fibercon hybrid is an upgrade of contenders supercruise fabric, I may also give that some serious thought. I have been very impressed with the durability and low stretch of SuperCruise.

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We are in our sixth year with radial Hydranet, three of which cruising full time. 

Couldnt be happier.

I get my boat pointing to this day to 30 apparent, and I’m impressed, if nobody else is, and we are loaded down

We had ours built at SCHURR in Pensacola, who was building sails for Smyth, and is just super to work with and who will support the product.

Hydranet, as best I understood, has been the standard for multi cruising 

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16 hours ago, soma said:

This question gets asked in every forum every few months but it's been a while since we've had this discussion on Multihull Anarchy. Since the brightest minds in the industry are here on MA I thought I'd query the hive.

I'm looking at buying new sails for soon-to-be, new-to-me Outremer 55. The usual parameters apply here. Longevity, shape-holding, price.

Wovens

1. Dacron. I don't think I can do it. I hate when the sail shape falls apart just when you need it. Deep sails with the draft in the wrong spot is spooky when you're overpowered. 

2. Hydranet. I guess they're about 2x the cost of Dacron with longevity in line with Dacron but better shape holding. It seems like it does neither job well, i.e. it's not cheap and it doesn't hold its shape. 

Laminates

1. DVX.  A Vectran/taffeta laminate. How does Vectran do for longevity?

2. DYS. I love dyneema for most things. UV stable and long lifespan, but creeps

3. Cruise Laminate. Low spe

Molded

Nothing in my price range. I checked on 3Di dacron and even that was too much.

 

What am I forgetting?

Not sure I can help much but will share our experience 1/4 of the way through the journey.  When we bought the boat the sails were all trashed so a decision was needed.  All our cruising friends said Hydranet.  But like you I can't figure out why (expensive and still some stretch) it works and its seems worse on a multi especially a big cat (maybe a little less an issue on our tri).  So what did we do...

Dacron.

Yes.  Dacron.  Few reasons.  First its so absurdly affordable compared to the alternatives that the money simply doesn't matter and what I want is 2 seasons out of it while we learn what we like and don't about the boat and then I will get whatever set of sails I think best (so let us know what you do buy and how it works out).  Not racing only cruising so even dacron stretch does bother me and about the only thing I disagree with you about is the implication re safety concerns from the stretch... if I know how to deal with that I am sure you do LOL.  So basically a throw away cheap experiment is what the initial set of dacron is. 

Second reason for initial set in dacron is care.  That may sound odd to you and be related to our being our of date with current gear and approaches..  Its been a long time since our last really big boat and strangely things seems to have gotten harder not easier in terms of taking care of mainsails when you put them to bed.  Recall the past two decades we have been playing around with an F27.  Easy to have high end sails because it was easy to take good care of them.  The main was rolled on the boom.  Never flaked. Nice cover.  The sail was never folded and barely got wet.  Only saw sun when we sailed which we did LOTS but with good care the sails lasted forever.  Even the screacher was stored out of weather rolled with few folds.  With the bigger boats, it SEEMS (I may need to be better educated here) that it is very hard to take good care of the main when putting it to bed.  I mean with a pro crew... yea sure... but for ma and pa looking to get the hook set and dinner cooking... this is a big issue for us so far.  Maybe we have something to learn and so again the dacron throw away set gives us time to learn some tricks to this trade of taking care of putting the main to bed because I think a some to a lot of the wear may come from this given how we presently use the boat.  That is likely different on RTW cruising. 

Third reason is I am cruising.  So lots of downwind and not giving a shit about best DDW VMG, and instead willing to sacrifice some VMG for ease of sail and few maneuvers.  I think this means deep angles and chafe given 3 point rig and the runners we are adding.  If or how bad an issue this is I have no clue yet. 

So basically, being a farmer and a bit of a putz, we didn't want to spend money on great sails that I thought #2 and #3 might cause us to be situated such that we couldn't give them the care they deserved. 

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As far as sail care...we had 3di on a GB62 and we never flaked, never took extra care...just eased the halyard down, flopped it into the stack pack, and zipped it up. Those sails went past 50k miles and it was the stitched on stuff that failed, not the cloth. Piece of cake.

As far as dealing with a roachy flat top, the Anomoly headboard is the bomb diggity. Luckily about a 1/2 dozen GBs have upgraded to the RPG lock system and have ditched their Anomoly, so the 2nd hand market for Anomoly headboards is thriving. 

I'm surprised (and relieved) that so many of you have good things to report on Hydranet. 

Just using the mainsail as a frame of reference, the costs are looking like:

Dacron: $6k-$7k

Hydranet: $12k-$14k

Laminate: $16k-$22k

3di: $24k-$40k

The other sails seem to scale in price similarly. 

As an aside, I love the CZ cloth for screecher/a5's. That stuff is cheap, strong...I just can't say enough good things. 

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As for square top batten stowage... Ulman had / has a dead simple (read inexpensive)  system that works very well.  I thought I wanted an Anomaly headboard fitting too but there was just no need.  (And while DDW’s idea is slick, it was a touch to rich for me)

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Go with an elliptical head design instead of square top, no hu-hu and you won't miss the tiny performance difference in a cruiser.  

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3 hours ago, soma said:

As far as sail care...we had 3di on a GB62 and we never flaked, never took extra care...just eased the halyard down, flopped it into the stack pack, and zipped it up. Those sails went past 50k miles and it was the stitched on stuff that failed, not the cloth. Piece of cake.

Thank you. No flake with the 3di and it did well.  Interesting!!  

We don't have a headboard issue.... more just a fit it into the stack pack (Mack pack) issue. Don’t think it’s size and shape as much as it’s an awkward  height. Can’t really get to it with the canvas up and even when not it’s a bit of a PITA (and safety issue if any sea running; bay or river not big problem). Lacking a hard top coach roof/dodger is not ideal specifically when talking about this task and size boat. But if this continues to be my biggest complaint I will have to HTFU. 

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2 hours ago, MultiThom said:

Go with an elliptical head design instead of square top, no hu-hu and you won't miss the tiny performance difference in a cruiser.  

This is what I did, more for less hu-hu (what ever that means).  I really liked how my older laminate square top performed and opened up in a gust acting like a first reef.  But what ever method you use with a square top to attach the halyard there is more stuff to go wrong, add a little weight aloft, and cause abrasion on something.  Did I mention there is more stuff to go wrong with a square top.

Another thing to consider is do you want a slab or triradial sail; the type of material used changes depending on which type you use.  I have a Seawind 1000 with sugar scoops added which may, or may not, be a large multihull depending on your definition.  In any case I got a big roach triradial fat head in Warp Drive from Precision Sails.  I was impressed with the designer who listened to me and put more sail area high up since I am mostly a light air sailor.  Since I have only had the sail for a couple of months I can't really say much about it other than it is really much cleaner than my really old laminate with mold growing on it and sails as I was expecting in less than 10 knots.  Time will tell when I head to the Keys after hurricane season is over but so far so good.

 

I do know what The Hu is

 

 

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Although we are not a big multi, FP Mahe 36, we are quite "fat" and hold sail area up the wind range. Just finishing 3rd season on Fibercon Pro Hybrid with Dyneema. We are full time live aboard and have covered 7000 miles and the sail shape is as good as new. I have some chafe on batten pockets, my own fault, but these are dacron and appear to show wear quicker than the rest of the sail.

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4 hours ago, Tomfl said:

This is what I did, more for less hu-hu (what ever that means).  I do know what The Hu is

 

 

Hu-hu is anger or crying in the so pacific isles.  I do like the Hu...a new "yacht rock" sound.

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A few thoughts:

- is the main halyard winch powered ?  If not, really think about the weight of the sail. At 3 am and you've been motoring because it's flat calm and the wind comes back, is it easy to raise the main sail because the winch is big enough and the sail is light enough? A big heavy main on a 55' multihull weighs a lot. For this reason I'd steer away from Dacron (shudder) or Hydranet if you don't have a powered halyard winch

- think also of the $$/year. The various laminates might have a shorter lifespan which make them pricier on that basis

- I really loved our Hydranet RADIAL genoa. ~530 sq ft/49 sq m. 1 lap of  the planet and it still had very nice shape. I think some people complaining about Hydranet bought the cross cut version of the cloth which had very little dyneema in the weave. Abused well beyond its rated wind strength. It was ~9 oz cloth.

 

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11 hours ago, Zonker said:

A big heavy main on a 55' multihull weighs a lot. For this reason I'd steer away from Dacron (shudder) or Hydranet if you don't have a powered halyard winch

-

All sailcloth in the US is weighed by a sailmakers yard (which isn't a real yard). From the UK Sailmakers website.... "The unit of weight in the United States is ounces per "sailmaker's yard," which is 36" by 28.5". The British use ounces per square yard, and Continental Europe uses grams per square meter. Thus 1 oz. American equals 1.26 oz. British and 42.8 grams per square meter."  A 1000 sq ft mainsail (such as the one for Soma's boat), is going to weigh more than the cloth weight because of battens, seams, etc.  The cloth maker does provide good guidance for weights per size boat-but the loads are based on keelboats.  Which is why you should choose a sailmaker who is experienced in multihull loads on sails and use the appropriate weights of cloth.  Hydranet is polyester with hdpe woven together...I still think it is worth looking into the new guy in the marketplace with polyester hybrid which is basic polyester with dyneema or vectran added in a ripstop pattern (the stuff that Cuffy above is using).  One of the cool things about this stuff is you can use lighter weight fabric in panels that don't get much load and heavier weight for the ones that do.  But it does cost more.

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22 hours ago, Tomfl said:

This is what I did, more for less hu-hu (what ever that means).  I really liked how my older laminate square top performed and opened up in a gust acting like a first reef.  But what ever method you use with a square top to attach the halyard there is more stuff to go wrong, add a little weight aloft, and cause abrasion on something.  Did I mention there is more stuff to go wrong with a square top.

Another thing to consider is do you want a slab or triradial sail; the type of material used changes depending on which type you use.  I have a Seawind 1000 with sugar scoops added which may, or may not, be a large multihull depending on your definition.  In any case I got a big roach triradial fat head in Warp Drive from Precision Sails.  I was impressed with the designer who listened to me and put more sail area high up since I am mostly a light air sailor.  Since I have only had the sail for a couple of months I can't really say much about it other than it is really much cleaner than my really old laminate with mold growing on it and sails as I was expecting in less than 10 knots.  Time will tell when I head to the Keys after hurricane season is over but so far so good.

 

I do know what The Hu is

 

 

The Hu is awesome, thanks for that.

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I have a set of Dave's sails on my boat. I did not purchase them as they came with the boat already.

We have the Triradial cut GXLD 30 laminates. The reason he refers them over Hydra Net is that they stretch less and more strength. 

They are not cheap. One thing to note is that we reef a fair bit. Sail shape on all reefs is important. 

We don't flake our sail perfectly and tend to pop the clutch and let the dang thing drop like a rock...…...

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I had long conversation with sail maker before ordering and although material price is x 3.5 labour is not much  more and labour is the higher percentage of cost. Just for the record main is pushed out to 57m, and is hoisted by hand to 90% on 2 to 1 halyard.

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Zonker is correct it has to be HydraNet RADIAL not the balanced variety used for crosscut sails.

I strongly agree that square top mainsails are not worth the hassle on short handed cruising boats.

Also the ability to utilize lighter cloth in lower stressed areas of main and headsails contributes to lower weight and expense and better handling and light air stability (less slatting).

Light, stiff, durable battens are essential, along with quality luff/batten hardware and headboards.

Big roaches and broad heads add material to high load areas to diminish localized stress.

Years ago I bought a high quality, narrow panel, cross cut, Dacron “delivery” mainsail as my “commute” to competitive racing was a 350 - 450 mile round trip (completed five times one year). From the initial install that sail stretched in the first three miles, we lowered it, re-tensioned the battens, re-hoisted it and made it bigger yet in a ten mile beat, (on a 40’, 6,000 pound Tri). It was hopeless and after babying it over maybe 1,000 miles I had it cut down and sold it cheap to a 37’ Cat owner. 

Cross cut Vectran - on a 60’ leech the boom came down 6” for the first re-cut then another 6” when it was replaced with HydraNet Radial but that did take six seasons and over six thousand miles (on a 44’, 17,000 pound cat)

None of the twelve suits of HydraNet Radial sails I had built have been re-cut due to stretch - or built in underweight cloth!

One of the two square top mainsails had the head rebuilt with a broad head, all horizontal batten design as the owner tired of dealing with the gaff batten. That sail looks and works better - a deeply reefed square top sucks and the sail has three serious reefs.

Not selling sails hear, just relaying experiences.

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