This is really early to be thinking about this, considering that I haven’t even seen the sails that the boat came with – but I suspect they’re old and tired, so I’m thinking about what I’d like for new ones. Of course what I’d like may be quite different from what I get, once reality strikes and I find out what “sparky the wonder sails” will cost.

My ideal (I think) is to have radial cut sails from cruising laminate, or even better from load-path laminate. My understanding so far is that that will give me sails which will hold their shape better for longer, and as long as I don’t chafe any holes through them they should last considerably longer as well.

For the main, I want a loose foot, full battens, the dutchman system, and three reef points.

For the genoa I want a foam luff and white Sunbrella UV protection strip.

I don’t really know what size of genoa I want – between 110-135%, but it’ll be necessary to sail the boat first to narrow it down.

I’m contacting sailmakers to get quotes, so far they range from about $1500 each for cross-cut dacron to over $3000 each for radial cut laminate. We’ll see where it all ends up!

I’m learning more about sail cloth and sail cuts as I go, of course. Turns out that laminates do keep their shape better than woven cloth – but they can delaminate, after which they’re toast. A woven cloth will change shape over time as it stretches, but it can always be re-cut to compensate – so the actual lifespan of a woven cloth sail is likely to be longer than that of a laminate. And wovens can be cross-cut, which saves cloth and time – and therefore money.

For a mainsail like the Yankee’s – very high aspect ratio – there are new-ish “high aspect” woven cloths that have excellent stretch resistance in the right direction to make a great main sail in a cross cut direction – so that probably makes the most sense for me.

For the jib it may still make sense to go with a laminate – but I’m not sure about it yet – laminates are most prone to delaminating if they’re flogged, and the jib is usually subject to more flogging than the main (especially a full-battened main) just by virtue of they’re getting slammed against the mast repeatedly with each tack (and the Yankee has a baby stay which makes matters even worse).

I’ve gotten quite a few quotes now, each with compelling bits of information that indicate that particular loft is the one to go with – but there is still quite a bit of time before I need to make a choice.

Further update:
I took advantage of a dry evening this week to get out some of the sails that came with Luna, to see if there were any that I could use. The previous owner had warned me that there was mouse damage, but that there were at least one of everything that would be usable – which turned out to be true. Out of 3 mainsails, one is usable, one is complete junk, and one could be repaired – but probably is probably not worth bothering with. There are 6 genoas, 95%, 115%, 140%, 2×140%, and a 170% (!) – most of which are in tough shape, but there are a couple which will work for now: the 95% and the 170%, oddly enough. The 170% is very light, and the 95% is a bit small, but I think I’ll be ok for now with that. There are also 5 spinnakers and a drifter (150%) and a reacher. The drifter might be a nice temporary asymmetrical, haven’t seen the reacher yet, and I’m sure out of the 5 spinnakers I’ll find one or two that will fly nicely.

Here’s some pictures, just for fun.

The one half decent mainsail – it’s kind of light, not fully battened, and only has two reefs, but it’ll do just fine for the first season while I get to know the boat.

The 95% genoa – it’s in pretty good shape, needs one little patch, but has no mouse damage and no rot. It’s kind of small, but hopefully in combination with some light-air sails it’ll serve us nicely. Oh – no foam luff, and no UV protection…

The 150% drifter. A loose-luffed, wire-luffed, light air sail that hoists where the jib goes and tacks the same way. I doubt that it’ll be as effective as an asymmetrical, but it’ll do for now, hopefully. Pretty funny that it’s not as large as the largest genoa, isn’t it!

Here’s one of the five spinnakers, the only one I’ve had time to spread out. It’s in fine shape, a radial cut, and not horrendous colours. Looks like it’s seen some use, so it won’t be a perfect shape, but overall it’s pretty good.

So I guess this answers my question for now: I’ll stick it out with what I’ve got for at least the first season, then see where to go from there. My basic sense of it is that I’ll get a pretty roachy full battened main, a 110% genoa to go on the furler (foam luff, UV cover), and a large light air sail to hoist in front of the forestay that can go from a very close reach through a broad reach for light air. Then of course there will be storm sails – but there is even more time before I’ll need those (since I can choose to not go out in huge winds while I’m coastal cruising).


Your thoughts?

  1. Hello,

    I’ve got a Yankee 30 Mk II as well (hull 58). I needed an entire suite of sails when I bought her two years ago. I went through Sailrite. They design the sails for you, cut out all the pieces, then mail the whole shebang to you. It’s up to you to sew them together. It’s really not as hard as it sounds, you learn A LOT about sewing sails, and you save lots of money. For instance, I made a mainsail, genoa, working jib, and storm jib for around $3,300. Of course, I also bought an industrial sewing machine for $700. But now I have my own machine, plus the skill and know-how to make any repairs to my sails. Just thought I’d share that option.

    -Bob Hall
    Seattle, WA

    — Bob Hall · 2.03.09 · #

  2. Another option for sails is

    I had them build a new main for my Bristol from 6.4 oz Contender Dacron, triple stitched, custom batten locations, custom roach, triple reefed with custom reef cringle positions, all chafe points hand leathered. $750.00 and delivered in less than 4 weeks.

    Good luck,


    David Browne · 3.08.09 · #