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Cruising Headsail: X-Drive Silver

X-Drive sails made with S-Glass yarns are a good solution for sailors who want sails that look like traditional white cruising sails, but need better shape-holding and stretch-resistance than Dacron sails. As the chart shows, S-Glass yarns have nearly three-times the Modulus (ability to resist stretch) and Tenacity (breaking strength) than those used in woven polyester (Dacron) sails.

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X-Drive Silver sails on a Comfortina 35.

While S-Glass yarns don’t have the same stretch resistance as carbon yarns, smaller sails with lower loads don’t require the strength and cost of carbon.

UK Sailmakers’ tape laying machine puts down up to 11 continuous fibers at a time, which means there are hundreds of fibers reinforcing the surface of the sail. The almost complete coverage of the sail’s surface with S-Glass yarns prevents the sail from distorting. Because of the nearly complete coverage with the grid of low stretch fibers, the strength requirement of the base laminate is reduced. This means we can use lighter and less expensive laminates and the savings are passed on.

The standard cruising X-Drive Silver sail comes with taffeta on one side of the sail and there are options to have taffeta put over the fibers on the leech or fully covering the fiber side of the sail.

The S-Glass yarns used in X-Drive sails are not coated in glue, which keeps them from becoming brittle. Keeping the yarns dry improves their flexibility.

Extra Durability With Taffeta

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A 72-foot small-scale J Class yacht with X-Drive double taffeta roller/furling genoa and boom-furling main.

To help protect today’s sails and extend their peak performance lives, UK Sailmakers can build all our X-Drive racing sails where one or both sides of the laminate is fully covered with a lightweight finely-woven polyester taffeta. Not only does taffeta protect the film layer from abrasion, but it also prevents cracking of the film and reduces creasing. While taffeta doesn’t add much strength, it does make sails last longer. We also offer the option of putting a layer of taffeta over the X-Drive tapes only on the leech of the sail as shown below.

Partial Taffeta Options

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The leech of any sail benefits from having extra layer of taffeta as chafe protection. When tacking, the leeches of overlapping genoas gets beat up as the sails drag across the shrouds and the front of the mast. The faster the sheet is trimmed or the stonger the wind is blowing, the greater the friction of the sail against the mast and rigging. To protect the leech of sail, UK Sailmakers can adhere a thin layer of woven polyester taffeta or Liteskin onto the part of the sail that comes in contact with the mast and rigging and along the foot of the sail where it chafes against the life lines and pulpit. This extra layer can be applied to one or both sides of the sail. Adding the taffeta or Liteskin layer just to the back end of the sail instead of the whole sail saves weight and money. On X-Drive sails, UK Sailmakers strongly recommends adding a partial taffeta or Liteskin layer over the reinforcing fibers to protect them from protruding items such as whisker poles, radar domes, deck lights, baby stays and forward lowers, radar reflectors and or loud hailers. While the taffeta does not add much strength to the sail, it does add longevity. UK Sailmakers will work with you to determine the right amount of taffeta to add to your sails based on your boat, the kinds of sailing you do, and your budget.

Taffeta comes in white, black or grey.

The video below shows the partial taffeta in action.

YouTube video
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Partial taffeta on the leech of a vertical-batten jib. Even though this sail does not overlap the mast, the taffeta reinforces the area of the sail that gets whipped around the most when the sail luffs.
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The genoa shown above has taffeta on the part of the sail overlapping the mast to protect the reinforcing fibers and the sail’s mylar layer. This boat’s mainsail also has a partial taffeta layer up the whole leech.

Available details

Available with:

  • Reefs
  • Loose Foot
  • Cunningham
  • Telltales
  • Draft Stripes
  • Sail Numbers
  • Leechline Options

Available with:

  • Partial Taffeta
  • Double Taffeta


  • Powerhead
  • Full Battens
  • Furling Mains

Other Options:

  • Lazy Cradle
  • Lazy Jacks
  • Dutchman
  • Sail Cover

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