In my experience/opinion of the last 6years:
Goachers/Dynamics have been the flattest.
HD/Hyde with possibly North being middle ground.
P&B traditionally have been fullest but can cater to custom specs easily too.
Whitworth and I used P&B's for 2010 being the heaviest team of recent years at the front of the fleet- we won the most silver tiller opens that year (7) whilst also finishing 4th at the Penzance Champs and 3rd at Salcombe Week. On average we weighed in at no less than 25.5 Stone and were down to 24 Stone for the nationals.
I'm still using P&B as a helm despite having been at the other end of the weight spectrum at no more than 21stone. I like them and find they respond well to how I trim my sails.
No matter what brand, the key is matching your rig settings to your suit. A large factor of this is mast brand and spec with quite a few options out there. Video footage really helps and that was the most beneficial factor for me at the Whitworth coaching day that I received last September. It's led to vast changes in my rig settings and provided a new perspective too.
Hope this helps, if you do go for P&B let me know if you need any help setting up or even just an eye from outside the boat. Likewise Tom Stewart/Dave Wade/Ben McGrane are really helpful too.
I'm using a Chipstow, as were Whitworth and Truswell too.
I've recently tightened my lowers by at least 100ml, taking this out of the system-not just play adjustment at the king post. This has provided more power and different leach tension perspectives. I'm going to reduce spreader deflection and with that possibly spreader length too. This is nothing special or different to anyone else, just retuning a secondhand boat and tuning a new mast. I'm still getting used to how a rig looks sat in the back of the boat but finding photos and video extremely helpful!
To simply put mast types and specs (again, in my opinion):
Chipstow have been the benchmark since being first on the market and all sails should suit them. They can go soft with age and misuse-you'll be amazed at the number of that rig up early and leave their shrouds and lowers hanked on full!
The old SuperSpar section has been known to be indistructable and well suited for heavyweights. Being a lot stiffer you won't need half as much lowers to maintain sail depth so requires different settings.
As for the Selden, there's a few different specs and the best people to speak to are Dave Hayes of Selden and Ben McGrane.
Still relatively new is the imported Holt mast from Pottsy and new High Modulas SuperSpar with the best person being Uncle Jon to talk to.
To sum up, hearing your requirements, I'd recommend P&B's with your Chipstow rig.
Let me know if you would like me to take a look at a ST.
My only goal with WildCard is to "Factory Reset" her. Keeping the hull in good condition and replacing everything else as new. I've currently got a very standard proven setup on a proven boat with the only difference being a fixed rudder from Uncle Jon which I highly recommend! The Chipstow rig is said to be stiffer in the top section than the Selden which has a slightly more flexible tip which may provide better gust response in top end windy conditions. For this reason, I wouldn't see a need for moving the shroud position.
With trimming and setting that's pretty much my style as you've mentioned, everyone can be different but it's all about finding what suits your mast/sail/sailing style. The way I try to set my sails is influenced by my previous helms.
From the Whitworth coaching videos I could see that my rig was easily the worst looking in the training bunch. My completely bent rig from bottom to top showed not enough lowers and a little too much deflection-showed in particular by diagonal creases when using a lot of kicker. It's quite surprising how much the lowers affects low level depth and power and with it leach tension. I'm now going for a straight bottom section with enough deflection to match my mainsail and stop the starvation creases. This is what I've been doing in my head all along but only with photos/videos have I realised how far out it was!
With the jib, I stepped in the front and set it how I like and how I've always pictured the foot sitting on the deck, watching the 4th corner tell tale carefully. I then check this with the P&B guys' boats on shore and was happy to find them using the same setting.
Here's the P&B tuning guide which I've started using:
Here's another helpful guide from Speedsails. I used this to measure the fully upright rake setting 7070mm. Measured for Winder boats so you might have to allow for this.
Don't think they are vastly different to the other well know brands but taxi has developed them over the last ten years or so of sailing at the sharp end of a very strong fleet, so they have kept up with rig changes etc. I suppose if you ask any sailmaker they will all say they have the best sails !! With so many front of the fleet sailors using HD's there must be something. Don't think they have any big early season discounts thou, bur there again that must say something ! Tricky Dickie is always up there with North's but these are very expensive but are also well made. As they say you may your money and take your chance.
You won't go far wrong with HD's just look at the nationals results from last year, first 3 boats all used them plus taxi is at most of the ST events and is very helpful with boat set up etc always willing to spend a bit of time to offer advice.
I have been following this thread with interest.
Having seen the 3DL and how controllable it is on the B14, and as Rich says, think you will find that it is no different on a dinghy mast of the type the Merlin uses as they are quite soft and will take the shape generated through careful system control. One of the main advantages is the extra life that the sail has before it starts to tail off and become a training sail. However, this is partly balanced with a slightly higher price due to the technology involved.
On the B14 we use ATX (Kevlar panel) main and jib, but on the Merlin (yes we have one on order for 2014) we will be using a 3DL main. Having looked at the technology and the mast match (Chipstow mod), I feel we'll be able to get a good fast setup across the wind range. The key will be the understanding of draft (chord), rake and slot.
Any of the top proven brands should be good as long as you match your weight to shape. Key will be what suits your budget and how long you need the sails to last prior to making a gear change.
With the rake adjustment, droping off power is less of an issue. More of an issue is marginal plaining and making sure you pop near to the lighter teams on bigger open courses such as the Nats.
Speak to Dave Dubrovnik, Rich, Taxi and Tom and they will all give you good feedback and help if setting up a rig to suit your weight.
See you on the water :)
I've got some North 3d sails that need to leave the garage in good condition the same as Richard Whitworth uses
Make me a offer!
Also HD kite in purple 1 season use
I apologise for any egg-sucking tutelage but why the obsession with flat cut sails? Unless you are seriously south of 20st a standard cut will be fine; just flatten and rake as the wind increases. If you really want a set of flat sails any of the sailmakers will make them for you, just ask.
Gareth Griffiths Notting Hill Rigging Co
I do stand by my thought that 3dls are designed for a narrower wind range than panel sails and would be interested to read others who thought differently.
Can a 3DL be as good in 25 kts as it is in 2.5?
Gareth Griffiths Notting Hill Rigging Co
Hi Merlin Sailors
Looking to purchase some sails. Have been enquiring on a few secondhand sets and with sail makers on brand new ones... There are some great new season offers that i am sure many of you are well aware of.
What are your thoughts and experiences? I have read through the gear guides, very conclusive but also some fantastically talented sailors out there at the top of the fleet who could do well with any new set.
I would really like to read peoples personal opinions on what they have tried.
Gareth Griffiths Notting Hill Rigging Co
Ha ha ha
That is kind of what I am thinking and have made a few enquiries looking for a good set at a good price. What make are yours?
£150 is a very good price, well done.
Gareth Griffiths Notting Hill Rigging Co
Sorry Andy Hind, not Hays
Hi All, Gareth,
The beauty of the Merlin rig is that you can throw the mast around to do the majority of your 'gear changes' as the wind picks up. I like to hold the mast/mainsail optimised shape for as long as possible only adjusting the relative bend/cunningham at the upper end. This obviously complements a stable mainsail shape.
I initially thought I'd have to re-think my approach when I started using the North 3DLs. However, after having sailed with them a number of times I realised that I was just using them as I was with the old sails so I'd say that it's business as usual fine tuning the lowers and kicker balanced against the 'coarse' adjustment of rake.
If you are concerned about the upper wind range consider how quickly Dave Hayes and Tim Fells are in a breeze (Selden/3DL combo)
From earlier in your post, if you'd like to have a look at a 3DL or interested in a second hand sail contact me I know people who are looking to sell on.
Let's hope it's not going to freeze at the Tiger for a change.
Thanks for the feedback Piers.
For the moment there is no reason for me to invest in a new set.
And I can't see 3DLs making a huge difference to my racing this season. But I will keep 3DLs in mind for the future...!
Richard and Barnsie
Thank you very much for your posts. Both excellent reasoning and interesting reading.
Had a look at Andy Hays Goacher main today while we were tinkering with his boat, I have a big list of splices to do now.
I noticed a very square head, long leach and a flat cut.
Reducing and inducing prevents with rig tension had little effect on moving depth.
What are the benefits if 3DL over stitched sails. Surely the shape is stiffer and therefor you are less able to adapt that sail to the conditions?
What's the cut like?
Is it flat?
Can you induce shape easily?
What's the leech length like compared with other sails...?
The north kites look good. They are selling 470 kite shapes which are very cool.
What is the HD kite like? The ones I have seen look like they lack shoulders and are probably unstable Gybing? Better reaching than running?
All info welcome?
Having been a professional trimmer for over ten years I know 3DL well .
It's draw backs for moulded dinghy sails, as I have experienced with friends in the Finn class sharing their expert knowledge, is that in a dinghy they ae not as versatile over as great a wind range as cut sails.
Repetition and weight saving, plus the longevity (which North worked very hard to get rid of the 3 Days Left tag), is excellent.
What about the shape though?
If I am going to buy a new set I want to get some info on who builds flatter cuts, how versatile are those sails through the wind ranges etc.
Any help welcome
Not interested in flat sails I'm interested to find some information on sails.
It's easy to find out what the top boats are using, have used and might use this year.
What I would like to know are the distinctive characteristics of the sails available so I can start making an informed choice on what I might be looking for.
We will be distinctly over 20st, nearer 30 than 20.
Olly that is fantastic information thank you. Exactly what I was looking for.
My set up is Chipstow Rig and heavy crew.
What mast are you using?
Awesome info Olly.
Interesting to hear you are playing with the tune.
Had you thought about your height of shroud position too?
If you have then I, and I am sure many others would be keen to hear your thoughts.
Earlier you mentioned, "the way you trim". What ideas are you thinking there? Low down power? Depth in the jib and a straight lower section of the mast???
Thanks heaps for you insightful posts. Great reading and have helped verify some of the decisions I am making.
One question regarding lowers tuning.
Do you find with your current set up that you adjust them much due to varying conditions, as you power up and de-power?
Dave that is really interesting. Cheers for your post.
North did not get to occupy the world dominant position they have across the sail-making market by being bad at what they do.
3DL is long lasting and always the same as the last one. They will change the shape for you but only at the point of manufacture. After sales service is superb.
Gareth, I had an older set of terylene sails/ alloy mast on my last boat and upgraded the sails to a laminate main and jib set that I got second hand for £150; Wow! seemed like new to me and made the boat really take-off in comparison to terylene set; gust response and powering-up much more dynamic. As always, the answer depends how much you are happy to spend (I think that unless you are top end of the flee, a laminate sail a couple of years old will be fine but try to make sure it is cut for you mast). If you make it to WPNSA on 8/9 March you can ask Richard Whitworth as he will be coaching and apparently knows a thing or two about sails... or is it sales!?
Full set of HD Sails (included good spinnaker). They were fine but any of the known makes seem to work! I did notice a set of second hand sails on the P&B website now for £500, only 6 months use, but you might be able to do better than that? see link..........
I see the top boats were using them
Are they flatter /fuller than others?
What are other brands like in comparison...???
Hello Merlins sailors,
Can I just add to Oly's useful post that Dynamic offer 2 cuts for the Merlin Fleet
Our standard is the medium/flat cut which is not all that flat, a versitile shape starting out with lots of depth which you can alter through mast rake and bend to flatten. DS3+ design
a fuller cut for the guys that either want to hike out in a sniff of breeze or the over 24 stone crew weights DS4 design
personaly I prefer the panelled sails for the merlin as you go through huge changes in shape and our panel layout is mindful of this, I think this is why cross cut sails work well accross the range
we have offers on prompt orders at the moment and happy to help with setups through the season
all the best Dave
Sorry it took a while to reply Gareth Ive been skiing!
The 3DL Norths are a medium depth but easy to change shape using mast controls - rake, lowers to allow prebend etc as well as usual outhaul/Cunningham etc
I have a Chipstow rig and sail with crew varying from 8 to 13 stone!
They last well are well built but like all sails start just to lose their edge but are still very useable.