Nothing evokes adventure quite like the image of a boat freely traversing the high seas. Blue skies, bright, clear waters, and a vast expanse of possibilities lying just beyond the horizon – it’s hard to find a more enduringly romantic and exciting image than that.
The key element to ensuring that your boat is able to propel itself against the mighty power of the high seas is the sail. The art of sailing is all about employing wind to act on the sail cloth which helps push the craft against the tides; all of which is often part of a larger, well-articulated navigation plan. So, in order to ensure that your sailing craft is in excellent shape, having a working knowledge of the different kind of sails available on the market will prove to be indispensable.
To further boil it down, a sail is a triangular or quadrilateral shaped malleable structure made from fabric that uses wind power – much like a kite would – to impel sailing crafts of various sizes such as ships, sailboats, windsurfers, and so on. Historically, sails have been made of linen, flax, hemp, and cotton in different forms. But synthetic fibers came into prominence during the 21st Century, ranging from low-cost nylon or polyester to expensive carbon fibers.
Modern laminated fabrics made up of a mixture of nylon and mylar for example, can provide both flexibility and some measure of UV protection, such as the Vision Sail and the Westwind as noted in Best Kayak Sail of 2019 – Top 3+ (Westwind, Vision). These fabrics tend to be both lighter and stronger, and are significantly more expensive than other sails composed of slightly inferior synthetic-based materials, making them the element of choice among competitive racing sailors. Sails of this nature can take loads of powerful wind gusts for extended periods of time in most weather conditions, but that also means they’re not necessarily designed for extended year-to-year use.
Choosing a New Sail
Given the extensive product lineup now readily available via nautical stores and websites, it can be tough for sailboat owners to choose a new sail. Two quick tips are in order to take the pain out of shopping:
– If there is one part of your sailing craft for which you should consider shelling out a bit more, then it is always the sail. There is a reason why some sails cost more than others, and it’s important to take that into account while also balancing performance and safety considerations.
– Study the type of material and thread count. Always look into the proper online resources or ask your local shop owner about the type of boat the sail is for, the kind of sail desired, and definitely make sure to communicate rig dimensions and the budget. If you are – or planning to – become a professional sailboat racer, for example, then a rather different sail is in order. As would purchase one for inland cruising.
Purchasing a new sail for your craft is a major investment and there are many details that should be taken into consideration before plunking down the hefty sum it’ll inevitably cost. The right sail that works with the vessel in question, and the makeup of its fabric are super important and should always be taken into consideration. Taking time to be well-informed will actually help you enjoy the sailing experience more – and encourage you to explore the multitude of adventures out there.