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  • Michael Lipari

Talk to your sail maker

Don't let the convenience of online quotes result in the wrong sail

Other than the boat itself, sails are the most expensive purchase for your boat. Online tools have made it easy to get quick quotes for sails, but do you know why one sailmaker quoted $1,000 and the next quoted $1,400. Without talking to your sailmaker, you may assume that the $1,400 sail maker is just expensive, when in reality they may be able to provide a more economical sail. If both quotes were for a Roller Furling Genoa on a 30-foot boat, and the first one did not include Sunbrella UV Protection or foam luff while the second did, the second sailmaker could easily be less expensive for comparable sails.

Making a custom sail for your boat takes an understanding of how you use your boat including:

  1. whether you cruise or race;

  2. the type of cruising - inland lake, costal or offshore;

  3. the type of racing - beer can racing, one design, distance;

  4. whether you sail in high wind areas or moderate wind areas;

  5. the premium you put on performance versus sail durability

  6. the importance of price versus quality fit and finish; and

  7. the level of options including the number of reefs, Sunbrella UV protection for your Roller Furling Sails, draft stripes, sail numbers, battens and more.

We can build sails out a variety of materials from woven polyester (Dacron), to laminates or laminates with high tech yarns such as Armid, Dyneema or Vectran. The materials come in a variety of cloth weights. For some sails, we may recommend heavier cloth in high load areas and lighter cloth in low load areas. We are able to build sails in a cross cut design or radial design. Finally, we can build a sail to an OEM level quality or Offshore quality which differs by type of stitching, style of battens, strength and size of corner patches, style or type of fittings and more. Each of these decisions will impact how happy you are with the sail and the ultimate price.

I was recently working with an owner of a popular 30-foot cruising boat that they race in a PHRF fleet. Our OEM level main sail is priced in the range of $1,200, while our high-end racing sail was over $2,800. Understanding the tradeoffs in sail quality, durability and shape holding characteristics is critical to making a decision on whether to buy the lower priced sail, higher end sail or something in between. Give us a call and we can help you out.

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