CLUB RACING | What type of sails are the best for you?

Working out what type of sails are the best for you can sometimes be a confusing journey, but not when you have an expert on hand to talk you through all of the options. For some sailors, club racing means a minimal maintenance jib and main for their after-work race aboard their cruiser/racer. The priority is on enjoyment and ease, with friends and family, Roller Furler’s and its anchor and chain on the bow. For others, it means an unrestrained weeknight or weekend race with a full crew, vying to be the fastest of the fleet. 

While there is no single answer to the question, “What sails are best for club racing?” Here is some insight into the options, and what you might like to consider when you are next looking at Club Racing sails. At Doyle Sails, our approach is bespoke, with no one yacht needing the same sail – our experts will work with you to achieve the best result.  

Over the forty years that Doyle Sails has been building custom sails, we have found that club racers tend to find themselves in one of three categories. This is not always the case, but often this is a great place to start when trying to identify which type of club racer you are or want to be. 

  1. Thoroughly enjoy being on the water and the experience and relaxation in getting from A to B is the priority. 
  1. Enjoy sailing and feeling like you have been sailing. Therefore, you love to adjust the boat and sails for performance and will work hard to keep up with other yachts of equivalent size.  
  1. You are competitive and every outing on the water is spent trimming and tweaking to eek the most performance out of your yacht.  

Your type of sailing allows us to define what type of sail and material would suit you best, budget is also considered here. The material you end up choosing alongside your Doyle expert should serve your purpose perfectly.  

Cloth Options: 

Dacron: Dacron is by far the most popular choice for club racers and for the mainsails. for club racers and is a suitable option for most yachts up to about 40ft. Dacron is a durable, cost-effective tried and tested solution for those with a modest budget and who wish to have sails that are care-free. Performance-based inventories in either Cruise Laminate or Stratis will always be quicker than this option which may or may not be suitable depending on what sort of sailor you are or would like to be. Mainsails that are built out of Dacron are coupled with full-length battens to allow the sail to retain its shape. Dacron loses its shape the quickest out of all cloths, and this is especially noticeable in Headsails so often it is advisable to go for a laminate or Stratis sail.  

Cruise Laminate: If you are looking for a slightly more performance option – Cruise laminates in a radial cut design are a great option, this will have a small weight saving advantage to Dacron, however the main advantage compared to Dacron is its resistance to stretch and therefore shape-holding for longevity.  

Stratis: The top tier option is a Stratis sail which is Doyle Sails premier sail material. For club racers, this is Stratis 1100 which provides unmatched flexibility in fibre orientation, the accuracy of placement and superior lamination. All fibres are designed to be load-bearing, converging to every load point on the sail. Here you will see drastic weight gains, and shape retention, and lighter, faster, and stronger sails. 

General rules of thumb when club racers are looking at sails have been to explore the option to have your mainsail with full-length battens. This will retain the shape and prolong the lifespan of your sails. This does add slightly more weight to the sail and reduce the impact of other sail controls like the outhaul or Cunningham, but often it is a trade that club racers are willing to take.  

Depending on your yacht’s configuration, how you use your sails and how you intend to use your yacht will have the biggest impact on the sail choices you have. It is recommended that you have at least two headsails – an all-purpose headsail which can either be furling or not and then a heavy air headsail. If you split your time between club racing and cruising, then it is also recommended to have a headsail or two set aside for racing when the time comes.  

Options for Downwind sails are much the same as working sails where there can be an enormous range of sails to choose from, however recent developments in Doyle Sails technology with the market-leading Cableless Technology now allows sails to be used over wider wind ranges, with less load and easier handling. Therefore, reducing the number of sails, you might need.  

If you are racing orientated then it makes sense to have a reaching orientated code sail, which is made from a laminated cloth or Stratis. And then a broad-reaching/running flying sail, either asymmetrical or symmetrical spinnaker, from nylon fabric.  

With an extensive range of fabric options available on the market, this could lead to some large price range discrepancies when comparing quotes, not all materials are like for like so it is best to talk to someone you trust to work through the options.  

If you are club racing the sail inventory would consist of a mainsail, two headsails (upwind sails) and two downwind sails as “extras” to make it an enjoyable experience for yourself and the crew.  

Alongside sails and maintaining your inventory, it is also important to consider a few other things before you hit the water. A clean hull will always go a long way to improving performance, Secondly, it is also important to get the boat set up with the mast straight and tuned, with your jib leads in position, etc, all of which your local Doyle Sails expert can help you with.  

ABOUT DOYLE SAILS // Around the world, Doyle Sails has over 500 sailmakers in 46 different locations, all equally passionate about sailing – living and breathing our ethos’ Global Leaders and Local Experts.’

As sailors, our obsession with sailing connects us to the water. The water is our playground, a sanctuary where we seek enjoyment, a competitive playing field where we race as competitors; it’s sometimes our home and always a place that unlocks our sense of adventure wherever that adventure might take us. Behind every adventure is a Doyle sailor who shares this same obsession as you. We put your journey at the very heart of what we do to deliver the ultimate enjoyment and performance, powering our constant need to push the boundaries in sail design and innovation, to reimagine sailing.

From dinghies, club racers and cruising yachts through to Grand Prix campaigns and Superyachts, we are your experts.