Sails...I'm going THERE again...

I had an opportunity to try this sail out a couple of weeks ago at one of our Thursday Night races at St Francis. The wind was upper teens, low twenties with a bit of chop. I was really surprised, pleasantly I might add, to find out how nicely it went upwind. For so much sail area it didn't feel like more than a standard Laser. In the racing, I didn't point quite as high, but was a bit faster so, upwind, it was a push, I thought.

Downwind was a completely different story, the boat was an absolute rocketship with this huge sail up. I absolutely have never gone that fast in a Laser! In the lighter stuff, where the other boats were dropping off waves, is where I made huge gains as I was able to just keep chugging along when the other boats were looking for the next wave.

So, huge thumbs up on the fun factor.

On the downside.... I traded boats with Peter Vessella so he could try it out. On his first run he had the most massive deathroll I think I have seen and when the mast hit the water it made that awful creaking sound. Result was a top section bent beyond repair AND a bent bottom section.

I guess that will teach you not to death roll...

Anyway, like I said, it sure was a kick to sail with! Best to not use the racing spars though.
One aspect to these larger/oversized rigs that tends to concern me a bit is the structural aspects to the Laser. I assume that when designed (or subsequently “tweaked”), the strengths were calculated based on the expected loads and wear from the standard rig. I would assume they add good margins to allow for gusts/deterioration/wear/whatever but the starting point for the calculations is presumably the standard rig.

I’m no engineer but with an unstayed rig I would expect the poor hole for the mast to take quite some load (and wear). Considering the leverage the forces exerted of the tube must be quite high. To allow for the same safety margins (as in margins before failure rather than “wear a life jacket” type safety), I would expect a larger rig to exert greater forces and thus designing from scratch maybe more strengthening around the deck/mast tube/hull at base of mast step/etc.

Maybe lager rigs without the structural improvements to match would increase wear/shorten life and can only increase the likelihood of failure.

All that said, I have only seen the pics referenced above and even if I had loads more detailed info I am no engineer so my comments are just an un-informed slight concern.
Taking another stance, I don't think using new technology sails is the way to go. I say that having come from sailing a Finn, where the rig and sails have become optimized/customized, etc...

The result is that the performance gap separating "pros" (who can afford to optimize their equipment) from the rest of us hacks increases to the point where the fun gets sucked out of racing (its nice to have at least a minimal chance of a top finish). I think this is one reason the Finn class is shrinking - its not a nurturing environment for beginners/local sailors.

I would rather see the price of the current legal sails reduced down to $250. If the suppliers would be a little less greedy with their profit margins on class legal equipment, I think a people would be happier (using 1970's technology isn't so bad if you are paying 1970's prices).

Further,I don't have a problem with the sails being made in some 3rd world country - if it means the price can be kept low (in fact, I wouldn't be surprised if they aren't already made in the 3rd world, with North or Hyde pocketing all the extra profit)
The North one design sails are made in Asia, or used to be. I think you hit the nail on the head with the price, though. Paying $550 for a sail definitely makes me think twice about the purchase. Thats pretty much all my regatta traveling money for the year(fuel+food). Its about time for me to replace my sail, since its been in use since '04. It'll make it through the winter as a frostbite sail. there are guys in my fleet who have practice sails that look better than my old rag. 54" Dacron in 4.4oz retails for about $16 plus shipping retail. 10k yards of thread is about $40. a window is $13. These are retail prices from That makes the material cost for a 76 sq ft sail about 143 dollars retail. i realize that there is cost in the tooling for the laser cutter for the fabric plus wear and tear on the sewing machine, and people gotta get paid, but 400 bucks? REALLY? Whats up with the radial costing less? Its only a couple sq. less and has more, more complex shaped panels. Does the class have a measurer on staff at the loft or does it do a sample of construction like the hull? the boat is a strict one design, which is great. With the best sailors getting a new sail for every major event, we don't have modification gap in this class, we have budget gap. That statement may be inflammatory and over the top, but its true at some level in every fleet and at every club. OK rant over. Not that complaining gets you anywhere, but I needed to vent.

Happy sailing

Rob B

Active Member
Thread starter #25
The north sails come from Sri Lanka. I'm not sure about the Hyde sails. I think they take "sample" sails from the lofts on occasion and spot check the measurements and cloth to insure they are within the manufacturing allowable tolerances. I bought a new sail in 2005 and used it in a spring series, an national event and a fall series. I was able to get one more national level event out of it before it lost all competitive form. So, just over 1 year. Looking at other classes I know the J22 class goes through jibs at the same rate. Our sails main problem, (IMHO) is it looses its leech tension. Once you are no longer able to get a tight leech you are toast.
I think you are right on that point, Rob. I don't think we have much choice when it comes to how long a sail can last because of the nature of the rig. There's a lot of tension there when you are two-blocked.
I think in 18 months or so we could see a new model Standard Rig sail with upgraded reinforcing, better shape and hopefully better longevity.

The prototype is in development...
There is also a prototype Radial being tested along the same lines
Could someone please repost the pics of the "experimental" sail that was used/shown at the worlds... For some reason I don't seem to be very good with the search function.

The prototype sail in the photos is from Hyde. North has also produced a prototype sail for consideration, something a bit less radical, and Clive Humphris, the ILCA Technical Officer, is testing it in Australia. Hopefully there will be some pictures of it to post soon.
IIRC, North made a few prototypes - a couple radial panelled and a couple crosscut panelled. Larger radial patches, all with different cloth.
The current is using the same cloth, crosscut pattern but with a few more seams (narrower panels), larger patches, larger window, larger 'sock' at the tack to 'reduce mast load' apparently...
OK - here is a picture of the North submission sail that has been released for testing by ILCA and the builders over the last month.
The brief given to North was to propose a better quality sail with more durability that doesn’t change the game.
As you can see the proposal retains the crosscut design but with more seams for improved stability, a wider sleeve, which has the potential to reduce the wrinkles that appear from the mast joint, improved and larger corner patches to reduce the sailcloth stress levels, the window is larger and batten pockets have a new diamond reinforcement patch to help disperse the loads from the batten tip.


Look at those sails side by side. I don't think the North submission is all that much an improvement from the current. The Hyde on the other hand really addresses the problems of the sail.

Assuming the Hyde sail performs just like the current class legal sail and improves it's durability without greatly increasing the cost lets get it on the ballot and start building them.



So how's it going on the more durable "radial cut" standard rig sail? I saw that one at the TISC regatta. Is it still in testing mode? Or will the cut be put to a class vote soon?
Look at those sails side by side. I don't think the North submission is all that much an improvement from the current. The Hyde on the other hand really addresses the problems of the sail.
I'm no expert on sails and it surprises me how much can be identified from two small pics. Any chance of explaining to me what in the pics gives away that the North offering is not much of an improvement compared to the Hyde offering.

An inexperienced eye (e.g. mine) can see very little from the Hyde pic and it would help me learn what to look out for if somebody could highlight the factors involved in the comparison. Maybe it is that one sail is under load (two blocked and with somebody sailing the boat) whilst the other is just sitting there no loading, no stresses that makes it harder for me.

Many thanks