By bbalme - 26 Jun 2019
Copy of Facebook post by Pia Almqvist to the Ocean Cruising Club group
We are about to order a new genoa from North Sails. The choice stands between Radian (Radial) and 3Di. 3Di is a little bit more expensive with the advantage as we see it of not having any seams and thus not having to be restitched as we just had to do with the main sail which is Radian. If there was only one choice there would be no problem making the right one.
The sail will be used cruising US east coast, Bahamas, Caribbean and at least one ocean crossing. Now, what is the opinion of this experienced group ? Should we go for the newer 3Di or the more traditional Radian? Is there any one here sailing sailing with 3Di?
Pia & Hans on S/V Trud
By bwallace - 27 Jun 2019
Hi, my only real comment would be that if Ocean Cruising, you would be advised to use a sail that cannot delaminate and can be repaired on board.. there are very few sail lofts mid ocean.
Hi Tech sails are wonderful for sail shape and performance, but I would be comfortable with a quarter of a knot less boat speed and as has been proved by many ocean cruisers that self sufficiency is a vital part of Cruising. I had a Mylar Genoa’s made and had to bin it after 4 years.
I am happy to stick to Dacron and my Sailrite sewing machine if needed.
Enjoy your Cruising
S/v Darramy in the Peloponnisos
By Dick - 27 Jun 2019
Hi Pia and Hans,
Yes, Dacron is the gold standard for cruising sail material. Built and designed well, they can serve well. And, as Brian observed, they are the easiest sail to repair in the field, often just using sticky back sailcloth or by sewing.
That said, it sounds from the sailcloth you mentioned, that you are interested in a more performance-oriented sailcloth. I have had laminated sails (jib and mainsail) and was quite happy with them for the most part. Their shape was good almost to the end. The down side was that they looked ratty fairly quickly as mold creeped into the laminate. And when they started to die (admittedly at 7-8 years), they died quickly in multiple places (think multiple organ failure) and were challenging to fix in the field.
I have also had much experience with Dacron sails and many have served me well. As said before, they are the most field repairable sail and any loft in the world (or canvas worker for that matter) can affect repair.
For me, Dacron lost sail shape a sooner than I wish. This occurs gradually and is endemic to Dacron sails exacerbated by being somewhat more unforgiving in this area of the occasional fire drills that happen to offshore boats. Now many offshore sailmakers will attempt to deal with this concern of the customers by suggesting a heavier cloth, but this is at the expense of weight and ability to adjust sail shape. And most of our sailing is done in light to moderate wind, especially if you sail in the center band of the world. So, sail shape and adjustability in these areas is important.
Depending on mileage and the number of fire drills, I started to see the sail shape of Dacron sails show signs of sail shape problems after 3 years or so and certainly by 4- 5 years. My casual observation of other boats supports this. The trouble is that the sailcloth is still good for another few years (before UV takes its toll) and most cruisers end up nursing their sails along a couple more years and tolerating the compromised sail shape.
I like to sail and I like to sail well, but am no racer. My research 4 years ago lead me to have a whole new set of sails made on HydraNet Radial sailcloth made by Dimension Polyant (sailmakers over the years have developed great sail materials over the years, but then they try to flog them exclusively in the face of often better choices elsewhere). We are in our 5th season (mostly higher latitude sailing, 6 months out a year and one Atlantic crossing) and their shape is as new.
HydraNet Radial is a woven cloth of polyester (Dacron) and Spectra so it breaths and dries which was important for UK weather where we were at the time. And it is field repairable as sewing is the way to go and the cloth does not take well to adhesives. It is impressively flexible in its construction, so sail panels can be designed to have the strength in the correct places. Please google for details and the many reviews that I am sure exist on the internet.
And come back with questions, comments etc. and let us know what your researches reveal.
My best, Dick Stevenson, s/v Alchemy
By bbalme - 27 Jun 2019
Having now taken a very quick look at the North Sails info on the 3Di, they do look interesting - being made on a curved full size surface so that there are no panels to sew together in clever.
However the one bit that got me was: "The sail’s shape and durability are permanently locked into the rigid airfoil that is customized to the user’s sailing preferences."
With my own Dacron sails I screwed up the initial specification - thinking I knew what I wanted. It's taken me ages to get the main to where I feel reasonably comfortable with it - and it's now 6 seasons old! I don't think I have the knowledge to tell North Sail what my preferences are... At least with a standard Dacron sail, with all the strings attached, I can have a go at making the best I can of the shape - and I do enjoy tweaking!
If you go the 3Di route, please let us know how you make out. I imagine they must be pretty pricey...
By Hans.Almqvist - 27 Jun 2019
We have now ordered a Radian genua. We are replacing an eight to nine year old laminate sail that we have been very happy with. It is just recently that it started to delaminate after 15 000 Nm in mostly tropical waters. We have a North Radian main sail 7-8 years old and the canvas is still going strong. We have just restitched the seams which was needed even though we have a lazy bag that protects it from UV. The shape was is still perfect as I see it.
The reason for choosing Radian and not 3Di for the new genua is that we know what we get as we have experience of it from the main. Also, I am a bit reluctant to order a sail built with lack of enough track record of durability. Especially the fact that there is glue involved in the 3Di technology even if my sail maker told me that the glue used for 3Di will not dissolve in high temperatures as it did in the laminated genua we are replacing.
The price difference is not that much. For the size of sail we are ordering the 3Di is about 10% more expensive.
I have great trust in North ability to design good sails so I am not expecting to be forced to redo the shape in any way so this is not the reason to reject 3Di. It's simply the uncertainty if it will last in a tropical environment.
Our boat is a 32 foot long keeled double ender.
I am not a fanatic when it comes to performance and being a cursing yacht heavily loaded with equipment you can't expect it to sail like a racer but I do care about performance and try to get descent speed. Being a small cruising boat loading her with all things needed living aboard the penalty is greater than for a larger boat.
We have on several occasions outperformed boats larger than ours and have been praised by their crew for the speed.
Even though we where not faster I especially remember a 48 hour and 300 Nm crossing from Guyana to Tobago, 2 years ago. We buddy sailed with a 44 footer and they beat us with only 2 hours.The crew of the other boat kept coming back commenting how well we performed. They had sailed together with other boats of our size and then they left the others far behind. This was of course a downwind run but even on a closed hailed, where the sails have a more pronounced impact on performance we have sailed faster and closer to wind than larger fin keeled boats.
Pia & Hans Almqvist
By Dick - 27 Jun 2019
Hi Pia & Hans,
This sounds like a very well thought through decision. I am sure you will be happy. And thanks for such a detailed report of your thinking. I am sure it will help others.
My best, Dick