Sailcloth choices

I'm finally about to order the Lake Union Swift kit with the lug rig.  The major thing I'm uncertain about is what sailcloth to choose from among the three options.  From the CLC description, "Contender's white Dacron sailcloth is made in the USA; Egyptian Cream and Tanbark cloth is manufactured in Germany."  

I much prefer the sails with some color, with the tanbark being my top choice and Egyptian cream coming in a close second.  However, these German sailcloths come with a large upcharge: They're $170 more than the white sail when purchased as a standalone item ($815 vs. $645).  That's a bit hard for me to justify if the only difference is the color.

So I'm wondering if anyone has experience with these different sailcloths and has an opinion on whether there's anything about the quality or durability of the German cloth that makes it more desirable than the plain white "standard" cloth.  

Thanks for any insights,


3 replies:

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RE: Sailcloth choices

   I have standard white on my NE Dory.  I row as much as sail, so probably only 12 days/year or so on the sails for the past 8 years.  Sails are still good as new.  I'm sure the sails on all CLC designs undergo very low stress as compared to most other sails.  Even though I do have reef points and have used them a few times in high winds to keep the boat under control, I sincerely doubt very many CLC boats even get stressed as much as a Sunfish or Laser, where lots of folks race or hike hard.  And Sunfish and Lasers also can't reef and thus might sometimes flog the sails - the very biggest detriment to sails there is.  I don't think many of us are racing/hiking/flogging sails. And all of this is nothing compared to the stresses placed on big-boat sails.  So I'm coming around to saying that I believe it is a basic fact that the CLC sails are over-built and will probably last the life of the boat in almost all cases, if well cared for.  

I can't speak to any difference in quality or durability of the various color options/manufacturers, but suspect that all are probably a lifetime investment for the boat.  So, I'd say choose based on color or what you can afford, and if you really do place some emphasis on color to make you happy, by the time you reach 17 underway outings you've only invested an extra $10/underway for that happiness.

RE: Sailcloth choices

 Thanks Bubblehead.  I also emailed my query on sailcloth to CLC and they responded similarly: That these small boats don't put much stress on the sails.  They also indicated there's virtually no difference between the German and U.S. sailcloth apart from the colors.

I like the visual aesthics of the tanbark and cream.  But there's also the more tangible "blinding" factor of sitting so close to a stark white sail on bright, sunny days.  I'm obviously trying to talk myself into a color option, despite the premium price tag.

So a follow up question:  Has anyone regretted the choice of white, cream, or tanbark and wish they'd chosed a different color?  After my earlier post, I went looking through the photos of various CLC sail rigs.  While the darker tanbark had some immediate appeal,  it seems to really highlight a bunch of very small wrinkles.  Minor stuff that probably is there on white sails, too, but not as evident due to lower contrast.  So maybe it's the Egyptian cream for me.  But I'd appreciate hearing from anyone else who has pondered the options.


RE: Sailcloth choices

Yeah, that "Egyptian cotton" cream color was what we picked for our Passagemaker (take apart, lug).  It looks great (sort of a "yachty" look) and is much easier on the eyes vs. white.  The darker tanbark might be slightly easier on the eyes, and, in my opinion, lends a sort of salty "fisherman" look, probably because we're used to seeing that on boats modeled after traditional British fishing craft.

One thing about the tanbark is that it won't show up at night.  In small boats like this, we tend to make ourselves known in the dark by shining a flashlight on the sail as needed instead of having regular running lights (all very proper for boats under 7 meters).  The flip side of that is they the tanbark does stand out better in fog or against a murky background.


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