8 years on! How long should my EPEX sail last? We often get asked, especially by our cruising customers, what the benefits are of investing in laminate sails compared to Dacrons, and how well they last.
Recently, we came across Elvstrøm’s first ever laminate headsail, which came in for an end of season check over. It was made and sold 8 years ago, and since then has been used extensively for cruising back and forth across the North Sea, and carried on a jib furling system. Considering the hours of use, it is in incredibly good condition. The weave and fibres still look perfect and its showing no evidence of any delamination either. So it has gone straight back ready for another season’s use.
Good quality close-weave Dacrons will make beautiful sails that hold their shape well up to a point. However, as you go up the scale of fabrics laminates are 1000 times more stretch resistant than Dacrons, and are around two-thirds the weight which has an impact on righting moment as well as moving them around.
Resistance to stretch is extremely important. Every time a sail is winched in, it is put under immense loads and Dacron fibres will stretch far more compared to a laminate. Reducing stretch means the shape of the sail stays exactly the same, the fullness is in the right place meaning it keeps the same performance and speed, reducing any heeling moment and sideways drag. Steering and handling is easier, than with a sail that has stretched, as the boat will handle better in gusts, making a smoother and more comfortable ride.
Elvstrøm’s EPEX laminate sails are extremely robust and durable too as evidenced by Andrew’s jib. And, it’s worth pointing out that Elvstrøm Sails are the only loft to offer a full warranty against delamination!