Wet sail - Superstition?

Discussion in 'Laser Talk' started by Dennis, May 9, 2007.

  1. Dennis

    Dennis New Member

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    Years ago I gave my friend Carl my old blown out full rig sail. We sail side by side together fairly often in windy Tomales Bay. He is usually behind. He also usually capsizes more than me. Lately it seems that after he rights the boat he gets faster and points higher (or maybe I'm amused and not sailing hard enough?), and this has gotten to the point that before he boards the boat he capsizes it briefly at the beach and swears that the wet sail is faster.

    I know in Ben Ainslie’s Laser Manual he says “…a wet sail and mast full of water is not at all fast.” But we're not talking about a mast-full here, just a wet sail.

    I'll ask the experts: is there any possible scientific principle that would make this old rag faster while wet?

    Dennis O.
    Tomales Bay, CA
  2. Ross B

    Ross B Guest

    NO!

    its nothing, at worst, he's getting private coaching behind your back and is getting better than you lol

    go buy yourself a new sail and you'll feel better

    edit: and the reason a wet sail and full mast aren't fast is because it adds weight, its heavy!!
  3. sorosz

    sorosz Member

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    In the days of sailing ships they used to wet the sails to get more thrust out of them. This worked because sails were made of natural fibers like flax, cotton or hemp. Wetting the natural fiber sails would cause the fibers to swell (and I think shrink) which would reduce stretch, close up the holes in the weave and thus let the sail "catch more wind".
    http://www.history.navy.mil/docs/war1812/const4.htm

    Modern sailcloth like dacron has an issue with stretch from the weave of the fabric which is why it is usually resin impregnated.

    Since you said the sail was old and blown out I am speculating that the resin in the cloth was pretty well broken down. So perhaps wetting the sail is working in much the same way it did in days of yore. This might help a very blown out sail perform somewhat better wet than dry but it wouldn't be likely to make it better than a newer/better shape sail.

    Perhaps someone with more expertise in sails can offer a better or more scientific explanation.
  4. Ross B

    Ross B Guest

    trust me on this, a 20 year old severely blown out, haggard sail, that is soaking wet will never beat a sailor of exact same experience with a spankin new sail
  5. SAILWRITER

    SAILWRITER Member

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    Lightly resinated sailcloth IS faster when wet. Everyone who sailed competitively before, say, 1965 knew that. So, the old sail, having lost its resination to a degree, would benefit from the wetness.
    Oh, and not all of us live in Orange County, California and can afford Newport Harbor yacht clubs. A new sail would cost half my social security check. And I need a new cane to hobble down to the Laser.
    181281
  6. Ross B

    Ross B Guest

    I'm from Balboa Yacht Club, much better then those pricks at NHYC!

    you know I was kidding Sailwriter, I can barly afford a new sail every year, usually get one every 2, with help from Dad, and they also pay my YC fee's, ahh the joy of still living at home
  7. SAILWRITER

    SAILWRITER Member

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    In 1970 I sailed a Moth on Newport Harbor, California. NHYC would let me join their afternoon informal racing. I actually applied to be their sailing instructor. This was 17 years before becoming the Sailing Master of St. Pete YC in Florida. But Balboa YC chased me off when I got too close to their dock. Oh, and this is on topic because the Moth had an added bowsprit and jib and a trapeze, so the sails got wet often. So did I.
  8. Ross B

    Ross B Guest

    My sails have often gotten wet too while sailing with people from NHYC, I just found BYC to have nicer people, don't get me wrong, our sails get equally as wet, and there are some great people at NHYC, but they just act a bit too fake, and think of themselves as rather high and might, with wet sails...

    if you understood any of that...
  9. Chainsaw

    Chainsaw Brmmm Brmmm

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    I wouldn't rule out that a wet sail is faster, but there could be a thousand reasons for it.

    Look at the little fishies of the world, they're covered in a thin layer of slime to help water flow with less resistence (and protect them from various parasites) yet their scales, when dry, are a rough surface.

    Look at the hydrodynamics of the shiny, smooth, perfectly flat surface of a hull compared to the slightly roughened surface of a wet n dry sanded hull.

    A very thin layer of water "clings" the the roughened surface and allows the next layer of water to pass faster with less resistance.

    As I result of this highly scientific thinking, I recommend spraying your sail with a coat of gelatine and seawater before every race. Tell your friend. He sounds desperate enough to do it.
  10. Chainsaw

    Chainsaw Brmmm Brmmm

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    Now I think about it, gelatine would be illegal under the rules. Purposely wetting your sail would be illegal too. Though how you could prove that a capsize was intentional is hard to say.
  11. Ross B

    Ross B Guest

    Well I doubt the reason anyone lost a race was because their sail was wet

    better tactics will always win
  12. cbyc_radial_sailor

    cbyc_radial_sailor New Member

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    that happens to me too, i feel if i wet the sail a little, i go faster it is really weird and salsa stop judging everyone
  13. Ross B

    Ross B Guest

    be easy

    all in good fun

    can't we all just be ourselves??

    chainsaw, sk8ingsailor, I'll let your guys say it
  14. Dennis

    Dennis New Member

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    Thanks everybody! It sounds like Carl should be encouraged to keep the old rag wet.... And don't worry about me, Ross ("go buy yourself a new sail and you'll feel better") - I feel great since I've started using my new Intensity sail, and I'll have a new one each year!

    Sail on!

    Dennis
  15. Deimos

    Deimos Member

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    Just for everybody's info, once I depart the beach and immediately capsize, its because I am making the sails wet for additional speed and not showing the true level of my capabilities.


    Ian
  16. Ross B

    Ross B Guest


    nothing wrong with that, good on ya!
  17. Chainsaw

    Chainsaw Brmmm Brmmm

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    Is it possible that "your friend Carl" would sail faster by totally inverting his mast so that the sail became the centre board and the helmsman sits on the outside of the hull? Then the sail would remain legally wet.

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