With the boat show season upon us, now is the time to talk to your local UK Sailmakers loft about new sails for 2020. For owners of cruising multihulls and large cruising monohulls who don’t want laminate sails, the top of the line option is HydraNet Radial. Hydra Net is a woven material that includes a mix of high tenacity polyester yarns and Ultra PE yarns. Ultra PE is the generic name for the family of yarns that includes Spectra and Dyneena. While expensive, these sails are strong enough to carry the loads and keep their shape.
The tight weave of Ultra-PE warp yarns paired with high tenacity polyester yarns gives Hydra Net® Radial superior shape retention when used in a tri-radial panel layout. And there are other benefits of these sails: the fabric has a soft, working “hand,” and they are white, so they look just like a traditional Dacron sail. Hydra Net® Radial cloth is also higher in “tear strength” and is much stronger than any woven polyester. This means that these sails can be lighter than Dacron sails of equal strength, yet they hold their shape better over the life of the sail.
Another bonus of these woven cloth sails is that, unlike sails made with laminate materials, the woven cloth is breathable, which minimizes the mildew-triggering effects of staying damp.
Hydra Net® is often the fabric-of-choice for larger cruising boats that don’t want to use laminate sails. It’s an especially attractive option for long-distance cruisers since it can be repaired anywhere around the world simply with a sewing machine. Sailmakers like Hydra Net® Radial sails because design targets that were previously only possible with laminates can now be achieved with Hydra Net®.
Although Hydra Net® is one of the most expensive materials used to make sails, these sails are still a good value because the price difference is offset by the fact that these sails last so long — they are typically the last sails a boat ever needs.