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manufacture of sails

Modern sail cutting tools

In UK Halsey Italia's factory the manufacturing of sails continues, firstly by taking the measurements of the boat, then entering the data into the drawing program which then proposes a flat drawing.At this stage, a precise shape is given to the sail: it is roached in leech line as much as possible, rounding the luff by following the shape of the mast and providing the right angle to the foot.A three dimensional image is shown on the monitor of the distribution of the belly of the sail, using the parameters defined for the forms.So the cutting of the sail can now go ahead.

The fabric is spread on the cutting table and the vacuum suction pumps switched on; these help to keep the fabric firmly on the table and the plotter is started on a cutting table for sail loft that measures18:50m with a width of2.70m.This tool cuts in all directions and with the nib marks the part that must be surmounted for sizing.The next stage is the gluing of the panels which are assembled; if they are white sails they are then sewn and the reinforcements are put on. The entire perimeter is then taped and eyelets created.

choose new sails

When choosing new sails, various factors need to be taken into consideration, but the advice of an expert is always the first step towards making the best decision.The cheaper sails are Dacron, but between a dacron and another there is a signficant difference, both in quality and price.If all the sails lose their shape over time or due to excessive flapping, Dacron beats all the other materials hands down for being durable, sturdy but highly flexible.

Excellent performance requires top quality sails, so you need to switch from fabric to laminate.All round laminates, used for cruising, are all white laminates and are made up of taffeta + polyester or Pentex.If your budget is more generous, you can aspire to taffeta, kevlar and carbon.For cheaper laminates, you need a radial, bi-radial and tri-radial cut; once assembled, the radial sail is reinforced and performs well.For the latest generation laminates, whether tufted or not, the internal warp is arranged in numerous directions; this allows for a different, horizontal cut, the cross cut.

For those on a limited budget who enjoy sailing the length and breadth of the seas as well as taking part in the occasional regata, tufted sails can be used.Those, on the other hand, in search of speed, require a powerful engine, light weight, something that keeps its shape, rigidity and an extreme cut: ideally, a film on film, Kevlar, carbon, kevlar and carbon, Pentex, etc ..They are all high-tech materials that need to be supported by an effective internal construction system: the membranes and maxx are leaders in this field.

The weak point of regatta sails is their exposure to UV rays; a quality regatta sail does not last long and it needs to be well looked after; but if you really want the best at all times, it needs to be replaced at least once every season.

cruising sails

Cruising sails are manufactured with a wide range of materials starting from a very normal Dacron furling sail right up to a carbon and kevlar membrane.The choice lies with which kind of boat they will be fitted on, but also on the equipment available; the weight of the boat, how it is used, the level of performance sought and budget.Of the cruise sails on offer, you can choose the Dacron sail, cut cross cut, short or full battens and with or without travellers.There are also one-directional laminate sails, bi-radial cut, full or short battens, with or without travellers or laminate sails, multi-directional maxx, taffeta+kevlar, cross cut, full or short battens, with or without travellers, membrane sail, warp of your choice, full or short batten, with or without travellers.

In general, the old boats used for small cruises are more adapted to dacron, or for the unidirectional laminates; for more modern, faster boats requiring good performance, the choice is more varied and at this point depends on the budget available.

In any case, for cruisers the following are important: performance, durability, cost, that must have a balance between quality and price.

regatta sails

For regatta sails, in addition to the carbon and kevlar membrane, it is possible to choose a laminated sail with compact, multidirectional warp precisely because it is laminated and compressed at high pressure by a series of hot rollers.The radial cut is also used for this type of sail: it will certainly be increasingly more difficult to find the right material, given that the companies in the industry tend to focus on more modern techniques, but all in all, with this cut, the sails are more robust.

Radial cut

This cut was widely used up until a few years ago.Overtaken by modern techniques, it is still the best as far as robustness is concerned.It is a good compromise between performance and economy.To achieve this cut, you need a unidirectional warp laminate.As its assembly is highly articulated, the finished sail can be a little heavy compared to modern methods.

The Maxx Contender

In 2008, the Contender took to the field with a kevlar carbon laminate with five multidirectional threads.Known as Maxx, it is the only viable alternative to the membrane, cross cut: the panels are glued with a gun at 180 °. 

Though it is less attractive than the discontinuous membrane, the construction is identical.

The cotinuous warp membrane

For those who cannot accept compromise, there is only one solution: the membrane.The operation to create it is rather long and complex: the film on film is plotted so as to form two horizontal panel opposite sails; one side of the sail is coated with a powerful glue and along the whole sail spread out over the net and fibres oriented in such a way as to obtain as much as possible from the laminar flow and the maximum strength; more glue is spread over the fibres and a final film on film is spread on, a vacuum is created with the suction pumps and special lamps are projected onto the sail in order to create a chemical action.Trimmed on the edges, it is ready to be taped, eyelets made and the finishing touches given.

The discontinuous warp membrane

The method of construction is totally different for this membrane.The cross cut panels are cut and the net and fibre are stretched across each panel; one by one the panels are then placed in the rolling mill for a normal lamination process. At the end of the line, the panels are ready to be assembled.

regatta sail
race sail

regatta jibs

Jib 2

regatta jibata

Suitable for medium winds, 3 or 4 battens, roached as far as possible to exploit the space between the leech and spreader, good for plying.

Jib 3

wind jib

When the wind is taut, this is the moment, three battens, straight leech, ideal for plying.

jib 4

With very strong winds but with a great desire to achieve the best, one pulls on all one's resources and straightens up.

jib sail

regatta spinnaker

Spinnaker Runner

round sail

This sail gives its best with medium and strong winds and allows the boat to steer away considerably without losing speed.

Its profile is deeper, with more constant curves and the maximum possible dimensions.

Spinnaker Vmg

close sailing

This sail is designed with narrower circumferences at the top and with a leech that is symmetric and closer to the shrouds to be used with AWA 60 - 90 degrees and AWS up to 7 knots.

Asymmetrical Vmg

light winds sail

This sail gives its best with medium and strong winds and allows the boat to steer away considerably without losing speed.

Its profile is deeper, with more constant curves and the maximum possible dimensions.

Asymmetric Runner

resistant sail

This sail has been designed to be used with wind speeds above 13 knots, and gives its best with taut winds.

It has a wide head which allows it to rotate and maintain the boat upright in the water.

In addition, it was specifically designed to navigate with very sharp angles downwind while maintaining high speeds.

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