Date: Sat Sep 15, 2001 7:40 pm

In an effort to provide my boat with some more sail shape, heavy weather capability and finite trim options, while preparing for the trip to New Zealand in 1996, I worked with the Doyle Sail loft to refine some of my non-traditional ideas concerning building the new sails for my boat.

Much of what I had read in the old Seawords seemed to indicate that many owners were sailing races and local cruises with 130 -140% head sails and reported their pleasure with their choices. Similarly, I noted several owners reporting that their main sail batten pockets often required repair. Many had gone about providing more headroom under the mizzen an had adapted biminis for shade.

In 1991 I had acquired her as a hurricane wreck and felt to a certain extent that I had a fairly clean canvass with which to do and learn. At 6 foot 3 inches tall and living in the Caribbean the first job was to raise the mizzen boom for both reasons. The roughly 11 inch raise certainly decreased the mizzen sail area and it was initially just cut off the foot. Noticing that it had definitely changed the balance I first planned to raise the mizzen mast or extend it to win back the sail area. It was to become the beginning of a study of just how the original sails "worked" for the SW II. Since my trips were often limited to weekends in the Caribbean sun and predictable wind it really was not a tough job. My friend Heineken and I certainly enjoyed this new education.

My batten pockets were too short, the draft & slot impossible to trim and satisfy. The two headsails provided were a light air 150% and the original 100% working jib. Neither could provide either performance upwind or enough power to carry her more than 60 degrees apparent nor accommodate a slot that prevented the main leach from flogging.

Three sails were built that offered some solutions to almost every requirement.

A full-hoist, flat cut, draft fully fwd., high cut clew, 125% cruiser with the Doyle elliptical luff patch offered much more upwind pointing ability. I sail just about 50 degrees apparent now. The full-hoist luff develops power in lighter air and the sail reefs down 20% quickly in only a few turns without noticeable distortion.

The new cruising main sail was built with a slightly hollow leach and without battens. The foot was designed to be free except for the outhaul car and it was cut with the draft much further forward. The reef points were raised to accommodate the inherent stability of the boat and reefing the main is just not needed until a bit above 20 knots of true wind. With the loose foot and the new full-width traveler I have almost limitless shaping options. With a bit of learning, once again, I find the sail area loss from hollowing the leach has been more than adequately compensated.

The final compromise was to built a rather roachy, full-battened mizzen that almost brings the sail are back to original. Next season I plan to install a mizzen traveler on the stern rail for even more power options.

The key issue learned about building custom sails was the incredible, computer aided work done by Doyle to provide me with trim options that give me almost perfect trihedral slots on almost any point of wind by matching the leaches and luffs perfectly.

1350 Jan 14, 2002

Can anyone provide true sail dimensions, not rig data, and any successful dimensional deviations that have led to better overall performance? Any special "gotchas" in ordering new sails?


1353 Jan 14, 2002


Brenda and I are both single handed voyagers and thus look for sails that will withstand the harshness of the open seas.

Thus after blowing out a number of sails, splitting any number of nylon slides, and loosing any number of battens while reefing in the stronger night winds, when we had sails made, we did not take the sailmakers advice, but enlisted our own experience and choose instead of having the sails made from 10 oz. cloth, no battens, no roach, and bronze slides on the mainsails, same on the mizzen but nylon slides.

We have thanked ourselves many times since. However remember different strokes for different folks. We look mostly for reliability and no failures at all. When we relied on the sailmakers wisdom we kept sewing sails below in the cabin after encountering gales at sea, so we then got tired of that and changed our tune.

Signed, Happy with our own engineering.


1354 Jan 14, 2002

I am far from knowledgeable about sails. Am I to understand that you basically have 10oz. flat sails?

I would also like to know how you keep the slugs from binding in the mast track. Iím contemplating going to the Strong System in order to keep everything operating smoothly.


1355 Jan 14, 2002


I whole heartedly agree.

I guess you two are where my own divine inspiration came from. Except for my full-battened mizzen you describe my set of Doyle sails perfectly. So far they are unscathed and have a couple of gales to their credit. Even my 125% jib is different. Full hoist for power, slightly (fly) Yankee cut, modestly high clew, luff-foam reefer panel, no grommets (hard rings supported on web straps) and cut with the draft chords well forward.


1356 Jan 14, 2002


Try using a large bronze lead slide at the headboard and use some SuperLube sparingly. The bronze slide will carry and spread the lube up and down.


1357 Jan 15, 2002

Howard: I have regular lugs on the original mainsail (the Stoboom sail still has its tape, until I need to transform it back to lugs and track), as well as both the old 7oz and the new 10 oz mizzens. All 3 sails have 3 short battens on moderate roach. I never had a problem with these plastic lugs binding. I do spray dry "Slide-All" lubricant on the track whenever my masts are down, ie, may be very 3-4 years. Practical Sailor found Slide-All best and longest lasting.

Paulís idea of a longer bronze lug at the top near the head plate is good. I put one on the new 10 oz mizzen because I wanted it impervious to UV and storm proof. I still would prefer a dry lubricant a la Slide-All to a liquid libricants which may goo up or make a mess on the sail.

Finally, I like the idea of flat sails if you are not wild for speed, if you have often strong breezes, and put up the engine when the wind gets too light. It probably increases a bit your light wind limit for starting the engine.

As to adding a big roach on the mizzen, Paul has convincing arguments, especially if you reduce the area to raise the boom. And yet, I find our boats gaining rapidly a strong weather helm as the wind increases (I added a reef to the old mizzen which did not have one, and use it often), so, again, unless you are in a light winds area, think twice, especially if that means special slides to resolve increased binding tendency where the full battens connect with the mast.

As usual, optimal decisions depend much on your program and sailing area. An offshore program with KISS as a motto may favor reduced roach (for me) and even no roach (for D&B).

Be well, Bertrand 80K

1358 Jan 15, 2002

KISS is the only way to go for me. I donít race and hardly ever hurry except to meet a deadline that Iíve ignored till the last minute.

Iíve done some sewing and have been trying to justify a sail making machine. Flat roach and no battens should be easy to accomplish.


1360 Jan 15, 2002


Nice to see others see the same view, thought for many years we were the odd balls. Never could find a sailmaker that agreed, but then our objectives may be different from theirs.

Our heavy duty Yankee, a 60% jib, is also high cut to let the waves slide across the deck and Brenda re-inforced it several times when working for a sail loft learning to repair sails. We used it one time helping the CG air boys look for a missing sloop with 4 people aboard, it came in handy during the search because a gale was blowing daily and we were pleased as to how close hauled we could sail with it. No other vessels were at sea in the area on that week. Found no trace of sloop or people.


1361 Jan 15, 2002


We do not have flat sails. The sailmakers simply made the sails without the roach that normally catches on the topping lift. The leach is essentially a stright line. Now granted it removes about 4" of sail material but frankly we canít tell the difference. Also we do not have any battens at all, so we do not have any chaff problems at all, and I can reef the main if desired without ever tearing a batten out of the sail or tearing the sail. Other than these differences the sail is designed the same as any other sails. We do however use 10 oz. which is by American standards heavier but by British standards that which is recommended for this size vessel. We also use a silicon based grease that once a year is placed on the bottom of the bronze slides and have no difficulty with hoisting or lowering the sail.. We do not use bronze on the mizzen due to the small area involved, the nylon seems to do just fine here, never had them come apart.


1369 Jan 15, 2002


If you are considering a sewing machine simply for repair work, one can purchase a used "Home" that incorporates the Z stitch. We have used this brand of machine for many years and find it does an adequate job. Prior to this machine we had a Singer with steel gears but the Home machine seems to be even better than that. My wife repaired a 150% jib, 7.5 ounce, that I totally destroyed in strong winds with the Home machine and no profession sailmaker would touch the job, and we are still using that jib as repaired for local sails.The Home machine does not have a walking foot however nor did the Singer and in many cases its not necessary.

Don Bundy