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materials for the sails

equipment for the sail

articles for sails, sails conversion, load path

There is a vast array of materials for sails and their choice depends on performance and budget.Here are some of the most commonly used.

  • Pentex: new fibre similar to the mylar but with considerably higher breaking loads.It is a good compromise for the construction of Club Race sails; the cost is slightly higher than the traditional sails in mylar but their extended duration more than offsets the difference in cost.
  • Kevlar is an aramid fibre with a module that is five times greater than that of polyester: so it stretches less with less material weight.It is the most commonly used material for laminate.Despite its excellent mechanical properties, it deteriorates when exposed to UV light and is signficantly weakened in the crease.Unfortunately it is very expensive.
  • Spectra: is a material produced by Allied-Signal Corporation.It has the highest module of all with the exception of the carbon fibres.It has been unlucky in the construction of regatta sails because it tends to stretch plastically when subjected to constant stress over time.This is why it has found a vital role in the cruiser.Its good UV resistance and excellent resistance to creasing makes it ideal for the construction of inshore and offshore sails, the spectra is more expensive than Kevlar and heavier.
  • Thenora: made by the Japanese company, Teijin, it is an aramid fibre produced for transmission belts.Used in laminates, it is black to improve its resistance to UV rays.
  • Twaron: made in Germany by Akzo, it is an aramid fibre similar to Kevlar.
  • Dyneema: is produced by the Dutch company DSM and its characteristics are similar to those of the spectra.
  • Vectran: produced by Hoechst-Celanese, the latest yarn to reach the sail industry, it is a liquid crystal fibre based on polyester and has a module similar to that of kevlar but, due to its molecular chain, is less sensitive to creasing and abrasion .Although more expensive than Kevlar, it is a very interesting fibre to be used for sails.
  • Carbon: has a very high module but is very fragile.During the last edition of the America's Cup, in some way it contributed to the success of the new boats, but crews had to be very careful to avoid it creasing.Its very high cost and inherent fragility will probably see it relegated to billionaire sporting events.

MatriX SAIL Technology

The concept of manufacturing load path sails began in the mid-eighties with the patent for Tape-Drive sails from UK-Halsey.This concept involved two revolutionary principles: firstly, the fabric of the sail and the structure were separated, two distinct entities; secondly, the structural part has been aligned in accordance with the loads of the sail.
The Tape-Drive sails are still popular today because of their performance and their durability and the visual similarity to Matrix sails which represent the third generation of the UK-Halsey sails.
As for the Tape-Drive, even for the sails Matrix the reinforcing elements applied follow the stress lines on the sail and bear the majority of the dynamic load generated by the sail.The density or the frequency of the reinforcing elements coincide with the loading concentration of the sail and the sail body or its surface support only a small fraction of the load that the sail encounters during use.Its purpose is to prevent the passage of air from one side of the sail to the other thus preserving the differential pressure created by the shape of the sail.When a Matrix canvas is designed, the size is taken into consideration as well as the amount and draft position and the material and how the material is to be placed.
UK-Halsey has its own sail design software.In addition to the type, you can also choose the size of the yarn to be used.There are other important factors regarding this: some yarns are resistant to UV rays (such as carbon) while others can deteriorate very quickly when exposed to sunlight.Technora is the most resistant of the aramid yarns when it comes to UV rays, while Spectra or Dyneema are the best in terms of strength and flex.
Last but not least, is the layout and distribution of the yarn.AccuCut allows the designer complete flexibility to tailor the yarn layout exactly as expected from the loaded map of a sail.During this process, the sail is divided into sections.Then, depending on the dimensions and use, the designer will determine the DPI (denier per inch *) that each section of the sail requires.Once the DPI has been provided, the type of yarn and size, will define the path of the yarn and its spacing (concentration).This is a step that requires time and is of critical importance, as the strength of the sail is determined from this, where this is required, and eliminates cost and weight (and therefore yarn) where they are not needed.
* Denier is a measure of the weight of the fibre used to express the fabric thickness.A high denier value indicates a coarser fibre and stronger material.
A denier is equal to a gram of weight per 9000 metres of fibre

sails matrix
boat matrix


Titanium is the development of a technology designed twenty years ago, a revolutionary system with tapes from corner to corner on a membrane (tape - drive).The difference between the two is that the Tape - Drive sails have the fibre glued on the outer side of the membrane, while Titanium has the laminated fibre inside the two films.

By laminating the fibre inside the sail, you get better coverage.Instead of having tapes positioned at a distance, the yarns will be closer together.This will give the sail a more regular shape.The fibre oriented sails are also lighter because the amount of glue used in the finished sail is significantly less.

The Titanium sails can be as light as the sailor decides that they should be: by inserting less fibre, it is possible to determine the weight.The lightness of these sails, however, is not enough; the length is also an important requirement: for this reason the sail is constructed with a sufficient number of fibres that will also guarantee a long life.These sails use either single or combined arimid and carbon fibre yarns.If the sail is to be used exclusively for high-end regattas, we will construct a sail entirely in carbon fibre.Titanium is also a suitable system for 50 foot plus cruise boats.

Taffeta is also used, a fine and very lightweight veil of polyester applied on the outside or on both sides of the membrane.This protects the sail from abrasion and UV rays making the whole sail heavier but suitable for long distance performance, thus adding years to its duration.

The Titanium can, therefore, be used for racing or cruising, for Maxi Yacht boats or small boats like the Mumm30.

UK Halsey Italia's Titanium sails are made exclusively in the sail loft in Cannes, France.The membrane is brought to different UK-Halsey sail lofts where, locally, it is given its finishing touches.Reinforcements, batten pockets, head plates and much more are applied here.

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