When introduced in late 1984, Tape-Drive® was the first-ever sail construction method that reinforced sails with continuous high strength loadpath Kevlar tapes. UK Sailmakers used the Tape Drive construction system for 30 years. The sails earned a reputation for being exceeding strong and durable. In fact, many Tape-Drive sails are still in use even though UK Sailmakers stopped making them six years ago.

A 1986 Tape-Drive Genoa on the Joubert/Nivelt 43 ABRACADABRA.

Tape-Drive was a two-part construction process in which the structural strength of the sail and actual skin that defines the sail’s three-dimensional shape are separate and distinct elements. This process married a grid of high-strength, low stretch tapes – the structural strength – to a three-dimensionally shaped membrane – the skin – made up of broadseamed, cross-cut laminated panels. The tape grid carried the primary structural loads of the sail, while the skin produced aerodynamic lift and handles secondary and tertiary loads. The tapes radiated across the sail with heavier concentrations at computer predicted high load areas.


Click to enlarge to see how dense the carbon fibers are on this Italia 12.98 X-Drive mainsail.

Carbon X-Drive fibers at the tack of a genoa.

Carbon X-Drive fibers at the tack of a genoa.

Tape-Drive evolved into UK Sailmakers’ X-Drive construction method. X-Drive has proved as strong and as durable as Tape-Drive with even better shape holding. Over the decades, UK Sailmakers’ sailmakers added more and more tapes to reinforce Tape-Drive sails, yet there were still good-sized gaps between tapes. The gaps between the tapes reduced the sail’s smoothness and shape holding. The development of single yarn, narrow tapes, allowed UK Sailmakers to practically cover the who surface of the sail with continuous loadpath fibers bonded to the sail. The near total coverage results in a smoother sail that holds its designed shape longer than the old Tape-Drive sails.  

UK Sailmakers’ X-Drive sails are the preferred choice for sailors who are looking for the performance of continuous yarn sails yet also want sails that are durable and affordable. Because they deliver on all three points, X-Drive sails have proven to be the ideal choice for racers, club racers and performance cruisers on a budget.

For more information about X-Drive, click here.

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