Carbon fiber is the highest performing yarn used in sailmaking today. As shown in the chart, carbon yarns are at the top of the list in three out of four ways to measure a yarn’s performance. Carbon fiber’s resistance to stretch is three times greater that S-Glass yarn, which is three times more stretch resistant than polyester yarns.
The only category where any other yarn outperforms carbon is degradation from flexing, and it is a misconception that carbon breaks down faster than other yarns. Looking at the chart again, you’ll see that carbon and aramids (the generic name for Kevlar) are rated virtually the same for flex.
Carbon, like other yarns, becomes brittle when coated or impregnated with glue. When working with carbon, sailmakers have to be careful since carbon wicks glue more than other yarns. That’s why the carbon yarns in UK Sailmakers’ Titanium®, X-Drive® and Tape-Drive® sails are used dry — without glue.
Successfully utilizing carbon in sailcloth
requires a balance of modulus (ability to
resist stretch), denier size (number of filaments in a yarn), and adhesive saturation (wet-out) of the filaments to optimize the advantages of the fiber. The higher the modulus number and the smaller the denier size, the more efficient the construction is regarding tensile strength and stretch resistance. However, in real world sailing, flex and UV are the factors most critical to a sail’s longevity. Although UV is not an issue with Carbon, flex of smaller filaments is a major problem. In practical use, the carbon fiber in sailcloth has slightly lower modulus, larger denier size, and less penetration of adhesive throughout, making this fiber a very reliable, durable yarn.
Therefore, the dry carbon yarns UK Sailmakers uses in Titanium, X-Drive and Tape-Drive sails allows us to make sails that hold their shape and deliver years of service. If you’re looking for high performance sails with the least amount of stretch that are light-weight and don’t break down from UV light, have confidence that UK Sailmakers’ sails made with carbon fiber are your best choice.