Come ask us all your sail questions: new sails, Scow sails, sail construction, sail materials, sail design, sail trim, etc. Sailing is what we are passionate about and we love to talk about all aspects of sailing. 

Also, we will have plenty of sailing kit available for sale. Check out our cool gear bags, Magic Marine Layering Clothing, Socks, Hats  and Gloves:  perfect for dinghy sailors, frostbiters, junior & collegiate sailors, or another cold Mac Race:


Soft Shackles
Dr. Sail Sail Repair adhesive
Nylon Ripstop
UK-Sailmakers Sail Ties

See you at the show; we'll be at Booth #S2115
Mike Considine and Tod Patton

For more information contact UK Sailmakers Chicago
Tel: 312-326-1053
Address: 2323 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago, IL 60616


Winter in the Northern Hemisphere is coming. Best to get your sails to a UK loft for the winter.

We know sails are expensive and we want to help you make them last as long as possible. The best way to extend the life of your sails is to bring them into your nearest UK Sailmakers loft annually for an inspection and a tune up. UK Sailmakers Winter Service is designed to look for the wearing effects of UV sunlight, luffing and flogging, tacking and gybing on your sails. We check batten pockets, luff tapes, furling covers, seams, leech cords...the works. We seek out the small problems before they can turn into big headaches. No detail escapes our attention.

The stitching and webbing at the head and tack of furling genoas and at clew of furling mainsails are exposed to sunlight all the time, which leads to deterioration. Unfortunately, this loss of strength is virtually invisible to the untrained eye and usually only shows up when the stitching or webbing fails completely. This almost always occurs when a good breeze is blowing, which makes the failure dramatic and very inconvenient.

The first step in avoiding these problems is to have these areas of your sails checked and repaired on a regular basis by your sailmaker. Think of it as changing the oil in your car! In the early years of your sails, this will mean just re-stitching the webbing. However, after three or four years the webbing should be completely replaced.

A big part of prolonging the life of your sails is keeping them clean. Salt and some airborne contaminates can cause mildew and actual damage to the fabrics/laminates. That’s why regular cleaning is something to consider. At UK Sailmakers, your sails will be professionally cleaned using the right detergents and state–of-the-art equipment. Then they are dried, folded and stored.

Never leave your sails exposed to the elements on the boom or furled around the headstay all winter. In fact, UK Sailmakers Winter Service is much better for your sails than abandoning them to the icy winter winds that will try to rip them to shreds. And if a shredded furling genoa is not bad enough, a flogging genoa has a good chance of blowing a boat off its jackstands leading to disastrous results.

If you think stuffing your sails below for the winter is a good plan, think again. Sails left in your boat are exposed to mildew and extreme temperature swings from cold to frigid. If you are storing your sails yourself, keep them dry and warm. A dry basement is better than a cold garage.

Our lofts evaluate, repair and clean all brands of sails. So give your nearest UK Sailmakers loft a call and get your sails in for a check up and tune up.


Photo of TRIPLE LINDY finishing the 2017 Rolex Middle Sea Race courtesy of Rolex/Kurt Arrigo.

In October, Joe Mele's Swan 44 MkII TRIPLE LINDY won IRC Class 5 of the storm-racked 2017 Rolex Middle Sea Race.  The race is one of the top ocean races in the world and shares the ranks of the Newport Bermuda Race, Sydney Hobart Race and the Fastnet Race -- and TRIPLE LINDY sailed them all in the last 18 months.


The 602-mile Middle Sea Race goes from Malta, counter-clockwise around Sicily and the islands in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea, and then back to Malta (see map). Mele's team won the start and kept the lead on corrected time for practically the whole race. After nearly four full days of racing, TRIPLE LINDY was second across the line in IRC Class 5, and corrected to first in class by a nearly an hour. "Most of the race was sailed in gale or near gale conditions," said Mele. "But those are the perfect conditions for our Swan 44."

  Libby O'Brien's photo showing TRIPLE LINDY (black sails and fixed sprit) winning the start of IRC Class 5 of the 2017 Rolex Middle Sea Race.

Libby O'Brien's photo showing TRIPLE LINDY (black sails and fixed sprit) winning the start of IRC Class 5 of the 2017 Rolex Middle Sea Race.

"We got a lot of good advice from UK Sailmaker’s Butch Ulmer when putting together our sail inventory for these classic ocean races. Importantly, he told me to invest in a real racing No. 4 to replace my Dacron No. 4 so that we would be able to sail upwind with a well-shaped sail. In this race, we ended up using our UK Tape-Drive® No. 4 for two of the four days.

"Butch also convinced me not to get rid of my spinnaker pole after we converted the boat to an asymmetrical spinnaker flown off a five-foot fixed-sprit. He said that the pole could be used to wing-out a small jib when running in winds too strong for a spinnaker. On the 90-mile DDW-run from Pantelleria to Lampedusa, the winds blew 18-45 knots from dead astern. Sailing wing-on-wing with the No. 4 poled-out, we surfed over 12 knots under complete control as passed others who wiped-out with their asymmetrical spinnakers."

Instruments on the mast read from top down:
Heading: 152°
Boatspeed: 12.4 knots
Apparent Wind Angle: 169°
True Wind Direction: 324°
True Wind Speed: 31.6 knots

“Butch also convinced me to move the traveler from the cabin top to the cockpit where the trimmer would have an easier time adjusting it, another key change for the better.

“We reefed and un-reefed constantly during the race. To make reefing easier, we added a second main halyard clutch. That way, before the reefing process started, we could open the aft clutch and pull the halyard through to the mark we made to make the reef. Then the aft clutch was closed. When everyone was ready for action, the forward clutch was opened and the sail came down just enough for the reef. Not only was this system fast, it also allowed us to take our time and get ready for a safe maneuver, even in the dark. Pete Ramsdell, one of my long-time crewmembers suggested this idea.

“The hairiest moment of the race was when we got hit by a vertical wave that was 30-40 feet high. Everyone on deck at the time was airborne and then fell to the deck in a tangle. One guy banged his head and bruised both his shoulders. I went from skipper mode to doctor mode. It took two days of bed rest for him to recover.”

Another lesson Mele's crew learned was that heavy air genoas, like No. 3s and No. 4s that have battens, should not be leech stacked. Most racing sailors leech stack jibs with battens so that the turtled sail can be folded in thirds and stored easily below. The Triple Lindy crew learned that trying to get the sail into the headstay foil when then the luff is not stacked is too hard in a blow. While the turtled sail can't be folded, being able to get the sails up and down is more important than saving space below.

Mele borrowed an old advertising line for a watch company when describing his UK Sailmakers inventory, "They took a licking and kept on ticking."

Mele plans to sail the next Hobart race in his new boat, which is a Cookson 50. We wish him and his team continued good luck.


Carbon X-Drive on a polyester/mlyar base laminate that has a taffeta layer (light-weight finely-woven polyester cloth) on the side opposite the carbon tapes. This mainsail has a one meter wide strip of taffeta over the mainsail leech for extra durability.

X-Drive® is UK Sailmakers' fastest selling sail construction method because it X-Drive sails are reasonably priced racing sails and long life cruising sails. The concept is a great leap forward from our time-tested Tape-Drive® sails, which proved themselves on the water for three decades.  Like Tape-Drive, X-Drive sails can be made with low-stretch fiber-reinforced tapes made with either carbon fiber or glass fiber yarns. These yarns run continuously from corner-to-corner to support the primary loads in the sail. Think of this tape grid as if it was the steel skeleton in an office tower. The steel structure holds up the building and the glass exterior walls define the visible shape.

The difference between X-Drive and Tape-Drive is that Tape-Drive sails have fewer tapes containing bundles of yarns. X-Drive sails are made with hundreds more smaller tapes each made with a single yarn. In an X-Drive sail, the coverage of tapes across the surface of the sail is nearly complete. The gap between tapes is miniscule. The major increase in primary fiber coverage has resulted in a tremendous side benefit ... the base materials absorbs significantly less secondary and tertiary loads, enabling us to use a more durable and economic base material in the construction of X-Drive. Increasing fiber coverage has greatly heightened the flying sail shape retention ... all while keeping the structure respectful of your bank account. See photos below showing the increased density of tapes.

An X-Drive genoa showing the almost complete tape coverage over the surface of the sail.  

A Tape-Drive sail showing less tapes that are made with thick bundles of yarn.

Left: Close up of carbon tapes on a black aramid/mylar laminate. Right: Close up of S-Glass tapes on a polyester/mylar laminate that makes a white sail.

German UK Sailmakers customer Jan Pieter posted on his Facebook page this about X-Drive sails on his Beneteau First 31.7 LOORA3: “A huge thanks to Stefan Voss and Timo Erps for the best new sails! I'm happy!"

   UK-Halsey International 
   18 pt 
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   Richard Benedon's Beneteau Oceanis 55, RUBY D'EAU, won a very competitive 11-boat PHRF B class in the Santa Barbara to King Harbor race with a full UK Sailmakers inventory that included X-Drive Lite Skin furling main and jib.

Richard Benedon's Beneteau Oceanis 55, RUBY D'EAU, won a very competitive 11-boat PHRF B class in the Santa Barbara to King Harbor race with a full UK Sailmakers inventory that included X-Drive Lite Skin furling main and jib.

Above left is Paul North's Arcona 380 EMPIRE II, which won the entire Liros Cup 2017 in Stockholm by 20 points racing with a full suit of X-Drive sails. The event consists of 5 races, Around Lidingö, Around Ornö , crustaceans stuff, Hyundai Cup and the GranPrix. The picture above right shows the shape of his No. 1 genoa. 

Below is a Beneteau 57 with a set of X-Drive performance cruising sails.  Ask your local UK Sailmaker how our X-Drive construction method can be used to meet your sailing needs. 


Here is a terrific top-of-the-rig shot showing a "Blown Out" dacron mainsail. Look at the draft stripes showing the aerodynamic shape of the sail; they look like backwards airfoils. The contrasting color of the draft stripes makes it easy to see the shape of your sail. In this picture the deepest part of the draft is aft of the halfway point between the front and the back of the sail. (The yellow line was drawn on the picture to see the shape a little easier.) A lot more halyard tension and Cunningham tension will help move the draft forward some, but not enough. This sail is too far gone. Hence the reason this team uses the sail for its weeknight races, that way they save their new main for the important regattas.


  Kirstin Songe-Møller sailing into the sunset.

Kirstin Songe-Møller sailing into the sunset.

Kirstin Songe-Møller is one of the few female professional singlehanded sailors in Norway. She has been racing and sailing her Beneteau Figaro 2 for five years and she is the only Scandinavian sailor to have competed in the La Solitaire du Figaro Race. Kirstin recently bought a new mainsail from UK Sailmakers Norway and has been logging plenty of hours sailing with it As you can see by her smile, she and the new sail are doing well. 

Click above to see Kirstin singlehandedly hoist a chute and drop the jib.

Here is what Kirstin writes about her program: “The last couple of years, I’ve been sailing on my own. After sailing professionally, competing in amateur races didn’t have the same appeal anymore. I really enjoy offshore solo-sailing, and pushing my own limits. I do day-training, as well as longer distances, a couple of days (or so) of nonstop sailing in Skagerrak and I make videos of my experiences. I make acrylic paintings and dry-pastel drawings of my experiences as well.”

“I get a lot of questions about my motivation to sail all alone. I really enjoy the challenges of handling everything onboard alone, and sailing the boat as optimal as possible all by myself. Another thing I enjoy is feeling the vastness of the nature (ocean), which I feel is quite a bit stronger being all alone at sea. The disadvantage of experiencing these challenging, tough, difficult, fantastic, and sometimes even quite magical moments alone is that I have nobody to share it with. That’s something I’ve gotten used to, and I have my cameras so I can share photos and videos, as well as text.”

“Another question I get is; What’s next? I would like some new challenges, but it’s difficult to tell what the future holds.”


S97 Hejira

John Bailey and the crew of the S97 HEJIRA are celebrating their best season ever. In 2017, with a full wardrobe of new UK Sailmakers sails, the 32-foot one design cruiser/racer has won all major regattas of the year in Western Australia.

The first victory was the S97 Metropolitan Championship sailed on the Swan River, comprising six races with one throwout, HEJIRA had five wins and dropped a second. In March, HEJIRA won the S97 State Championship on the Indian Ocean off Fremantle. Finally in April, HEJIRA completed the trifecta, winning the Royal Perth Yacht Club S97 Club Championship with races sailed over a six-month period.

Skipper, John Bailey, attributes his yacht’s success to great crew work and superior sails (not necessarily in that order). Here main and genoa are made with UK Sailmakers' Titanium construction system and the genoa has grey taffeta covering the part of the leech that overlaps the mast. 

S97 Hejira


The Sydney 43 CHRISTOPHER DRAGON sporting her Flying Jib, double-head rig. Set from the end of the sprit along with a regular jib, the Flying Jib makes the boat significantly faster when close reaching.

For modern race boats with fractional, non-overlapping headsails, jib reaching is a distinct weakness; in conditions too tight for a Code Zero. Boats with overlapping jib topsails have a significant advantage. The Flying Jib is a fix for this problem and even boats using overlapping headsails may benefit from this idea provided they have converted from a spinnaker pole to a sprit.

The Flying Jib derives its name from the clipper ships and in the right conditions it can really make your boat “fly.”

The photos in this article (courtesy Howard McMichael) show a Flying Jib in action on CHRISTOPER DRAGON, a Ker 43 also called a Sydney 43. The sail is set on the sprit using a furling unit and a masthead spinnaker halyard. The increase in performance comes from more than just the addition of sail area. With the sail set out in front of the boat, the center of effort of the boat’s sailplan has moved forward and this almost always makes a boat go faster.

  The Flying Jib has a torque rope sewn into its luff so that it can be rolled with a direct line furler

The Flying Jib has a torque rope sewn into its luff so that it can be rolled with a direct line furler

Also, the Flying Jib adds a lot of luff length — the part of a sail that generates the forward force — but very little drag and heeling moment. Note how little of the sail is converging with the center line of the boat in photos below taken from the aft leeward quarter.

While sail testing is still going on, the results have been so positive that we decided to take it public right away.

On the first day it was tested, the winds were light (5-8 knots of true wind). We had set a new jib just to see how it fit and were about to go in when the owner suggested trying this rig. We left the first jib up and set the Flying Jib. We got into a stretch where the TWS was 7 to 7.5 knots and were amazed to be sailing at 8-8.25 knots with an AWA of 43 degrees. We had trouble believing what we were seeing on the instruments and also confirmed with each other that we were too close to consider using a Code Zero.

The Flying Jib is trimmed with spinnaker sheets deflected by twings or tweakers.

We went sail testing again a few days later (when these photos were taken) and we had significantly more wind (14-18 knots). During this testing, we furled and unfurled the Flying Jib a number of times and recorded the speed differential. Each time we unfurled it we added between 0.5 and 0.75 knots boat speed, which we quickly lost once the sail was furled again.

UK Sailmakers' takeaway from these sail tests is that the Flying Jib is going to be a must-have rig for distance races. On a boat with a retractable sprit, a bobstay will be a must to allow enough halyard tension.

We’re looking at other areas such as the use of this concept on boats with masthead rigs and overlapping headsails. It’s quite likely the triangular shape of the Flying Jib for those boats will change and it may even suggest a change to the shape of the existing reaching jib.

Other factors to consider are halyard stretch, halyard breakage, and sprit deflection. We’ll be sure to keep you posted with regular updates in our newsletters.

All photos by Howard McMichael.