May 31, 2012
Maine Sailing Partners has long partnered with Dimension-Polyant to offer D4 Custom Load Path Sails. Load path sails are fairly common in racing circles and are becoming more common in cruising circles as well. What is a load path sail? Well, one way to think about it is that a load path sail is a custom sail made from custom sail cloth. Take a look:
This is the unfinished clew of a new mainsail we're building for one of our customers. The clew and leech of the mainsail will be fairly highly loaded so there are lots of twaron and carbon yarns radiating from the corner.
Now look at this:
This is the same sail at mid-foot, an area of the sail that isn't nearly as highly loaded as the clew. The loads here are also primarily parallel to the foot. As you might expect, there are far fewer yarns and they are mostly parallel to the foot.
A conventional rolled sail fabric weighs the same no matter where in the sail you sample it. This means that some areas of the sail are over-built and the entire sail weighs more than it really has to. A D4 Custom Load Path Sail has yarns concentrated in highly loaded areas, and the yarns follow the paths of the anticipated loads on the sail. The finished sail is lighter and holds its shape better than conventional panelled sails.
And lighter is better, even in cruising sails. Less weight means better righting moment, less hobby-horsing, and easier to handle, an important consideration in today's larger cruising boats. So, consider custom sailcloth for your next custom sail.
One of the pleasures of making sails in Maine is that we frequently work and sail on classic boats. The list of such boats is long: Concordia, NY-50, Q-Boat, Rhodes 49, A-Scow, Nevins 40, International Class, etc. There is a real interest in such boats in Maine. Perhaps it is this interest in classic sailboats that has helped keep alive Maine's unique one-design classes: Boothbay Harbor One Design, Christmas Cove One Design, and Small Point One Design.
As sailmakers, we take great pride in using modern technology and materials in helping these classic one-designs perform up to their potential. Here's Jake measuring a new mainsail for BHOD #5, Tia. This boat was built long before modern looms and computer design and cutting. We've made this sail of Dimension-Polyant's Square Weave Dacron. This Dacron is woven with a ripstop grid of larger denier yarns combined with smaller, tightly packed yarns and special coatings for improved stretch resistance and bias stability. The result is a sail that lasts longer and holds its shape better.