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Racing Mainsails: X-Drive Silver

X-Drive sails made with S-Glass yarn reinforced tapes have enough strength to carry the loads of small racing boats. X-Drive Silver is an attractive alternative for owners on a budget or who prefer sails that look white while having performance much better performance than any Dacron sail. 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.

S-Glass yarns are less expensive than carbon, and they are heavier, but on smaller sails, the lower stretch resistance and increased weight are not as noticeable.

UK Sailmakers’ yarn laying machine puts down up to 11 yarns, which means there are hundreds of yarns on 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 of the sail with load path yarns, the strength requirement of the base laminate is reduced. This means we can use lighter and less expensive laminates, and those savings get passed on to the sailor.

The S-Glass fibers in an X-Drive Silver sail are bonded to a laminate sailcloth that is made with polyester yarns, which allows these sails to have an all-white appearance.

To reduce glare and to give the sail a more performance look, some of the laminates are available with grey taffeta.

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

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Close-up image of an X-Drive Silver sail
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X-Drive Silver mainsail on a Max Fun 25.
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Extra Durability With Lite Skin® or 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 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 any strength, it does make sails last longer. We also offer the option of putting a layer of taffeta over the X-Drive load path yarns only on the sail’s leech, as shown below.

  • Lite Skin is a thin, lightweight sheet of random, non-woven, polyester filaments applied to what will be the outer sides of the sail giving the sail a mat-black or dark grey appearance. Lite Skin is a proprietary product of Dimension-Polyant Sailcloth.
  • Taffeta is a lightweight, finely woven polyester cloth. Taffeta is slightly heavier than Lite Skin but it is also more rugged. Taffeta is available in white or a medium grey color.

Partial Taffeta Option

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Shown above is a main with taffeta on one full side and over the carbon yarns on the second side.

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, bluffing, 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.

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.

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