It used to be that Performance and Cruising did not belong on the same sentence. We thought that those sailors who longed for Blue Water were content to plod along with the wind at their backs. Turns out most cruisers have a hidden competitive streak and while they love the being out on a long passage, they also trim and tinker to get the best performance out of their boat. With this in mind we introduce The Curve, a line of high performance cruising sails for those sailors who admit to their competitive streak.


The Devil is in the Details. We use only the highest quality fabrics and hand craft each sail knowing that the safety of the ship relies on all parts working smoothly, especially the sails. The sails are hand stitched where necessary and particular attention is paid to the corner and edge reinforcement. The fabric, no matter how good, needs help and that’s why we take care of the small details.


The Curve Explained - There are a number of good options for fabric and engineering for your sails depending on how much performance you are seeking and how it all balances out against your budget. We like to say that “you should measure the life of a sail by how long it holds its shape and not just by how long it holds together.” With that in mind we offer three different base fabrics each with their own strengths.


Woven Dacron - You can never go wrong with a high quality, tightly woven Dacron. This has been the go-to fabric for mariners for decades and for good reason. It’s easy to make sails out of Dacron and that keeps the cost low. It’s easy to repair Dacron - even at sea - and that makes it a practical choice. It’s rugged and durable; two qualities sailors are always looking for.


Laminate - Those sailors looking for a little more performance should consider a laminate. We use a rugged fabric from Contender Sailcloth. The fabric has mylar as its base layer. The mylar, being extruded rather than woven, is there to support any off-threadline (bias) stretch. The mylar is then sandwiched between two layers of Polyester - one along the load path and the other at 45 degrees - to help the mylar with any bias stretch. These layers are then sandwiched between two light taffetas that have been treated with anti-mildew and anti UV additives. What you end up with is a fabric that is soft and easy to handle. The real gain in performance comes in when you use the fabric to build radial sails rather than cross-cut sails. With a radial sail you can place heavier fabrics in high load areas and lighter fabrics along the luff and in the body of the sail. You will end up with a great, durable sail that will hold its shape for many years. It will also be a little lighter than a Dacron sail making it easier to set and to trim.


Woven Dyneema - While Polyester has always been a terrific fiber for sails, there are better alternatives that offer more performance and more durability. Dyneema is an ultra high molecular weight polyethylene (UHMWPE) that was originally developed for the production of ballistic protection clothing. In the past it has not been good fiber to weave but with new manufacturing technology we can now get incredibly durable woven Dyneema that offers the highest performance of any woven fabric.


Here’s how; heat-setting is an important step in woven sailcloth manufacturing. It provides a boost in fibre density which in turn tightens the weave which creates very stable fabric. While heat-setting is straightforward for Dacron sailcloth, up until now it was not an an option for sailcloth made with high-performance fibers such as Dyneema. Instead this fabric is made in a process called cold-setting in which by working below the normal temperature window for heat-setting, and by carefully selecting combinations of yarns and additives, it's possible to shrink specific yarns while leaving other yarns untouched. The result is an incredibly tightly woven fabric that is perfect for sails for boats up to 60 feet in length.


In conclusion - In sailmaking, like most things in life, you get what you pay for. A high tech fabric will cost more but it will also serve you better over the life of the sail. If you plan to keep your boat for a while the investment will be worth it.


Copyright: Great Circle Sails International 2020