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Cruising Mainsail: X-Drive Taffeta Silver

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An X-Drive Silver full-batten mainsail on the loft floor at UK Sailmakers Belgium. The S-Glass fibers are white and so is the laminate reinforce with polyester fibers. At the right is a detail photo of the reef tack.

X-Drive sails made with S-Glass yarns are a great solution for owners who want sails that are white, like traditional cruising sails, yet have the performance close to sails made with carbon fiber. 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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While S-Glass yarns don’t have the same stretch resistance as carbon yarns, smaller sails with lower loads don’t require the the strength and cost of carbon.

UK Sailmakers’ fiber laying machine puts down up to 11 tapes at a time, which means there are hundreds of tapes running continuously between the three corners of the sail. The almost complete coverage of the sail’s surface with S-Glass fibers prevents the sail from distorting. The strength requirement of the base laminate is reduced by the massive strength of the continuous fiber grid. This means UK Sailmakers can use lighter and less expensive laminates and the savings are passed on.

The standard 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 continuous fiber side of the sail.

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

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Two views of an X-Drive Silver Roller Furling main on a Beneteau 423. This is a double taffeta sail with white taffeta bonded over the continuous yarn grid as well on the second side of the sail. X-Drive Silver sails not only provide better sailing performance than basic dacron sails, but since they also roller furl better since they don’t stretch and jam while being rolled into the mast.

Extra Durability With Taffeta

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 only on the leech of the sail as shown below.

Taffeta is available in white or a medium grey color.

Partial Taffeta Option

The leech of any sail benefits from having extra taffeta protection. Adding taffeta to the leech of an X-Drive mainsail reduces the destructive effects of leech flutter, luffing and flogging. Mainsails can flog in heavy air as the boat is de-powered and when the sail is being hoisted or lowered. Leech flutter happens when the leech line is not properly tensioned. The X-Drive construction method allows sailors to choose a sail with taffeta on one side of the sail, on one side and on the leech of the second side, or fully covering both sides. The more taffeta, the more protection — at the cost of more weight aloft.

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Shown above is a Dehler 34 main with taffeta on one full side and over the tapes on the second side.

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. Having both sides covered with taffeta makes a sail more durable, but also would make the sail heavier. UK Sailmakers offers a Partial Taffeta option to save weight and cost.

Available details

Available with:

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

Available with:

  • Partial Taffeta
  • Double Taffeta

Battens:

  • Powerhead
  • Full Battens
  • Furling Mains

Other Options:

  • Lazy Cradle
  • Lazy Jacks
  • Dutchman
  • Sail Cover
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