Joy and I have been sailing for 47 years, almost a lifetime of sailing. We’ve owned 6 different sailboats including 2 racing dinghies, an Opti, a Venture 24 cutter, a 30 foot Hunter, and our First 42, Ocean Angel. We’ve hoisted sails from many different manufacturers, and I’ve had the opportunity to sail on more than 40 different boats from all over the world.
Our racing dinghies were one-design Force V’s (5’s), both having North Sails Dacron mains. Those were hot little sailing machines that reached amazing speeds. These boats taught me how to sail because they would not tolerate mistakes; you’d end up in the drink. You can see that these sails, though new, have lots of stretch and creases.
Don’t forget to click on the photos.
Our first coastal cruiser was a Venture 24, a pop-top pilot house cutter. We never changed the sails on the Venture because we only owned her for 3 years before trading up to the Hunter 30. We spent many weekends sailing that sweet little boat along the shores of Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Maine.
In 1981 we traded the Venture towards a brand new 30 foot Hunter, sold our home, moved aboard, and set sail for points south. That adventure changed our lives for the better. We owned Meg Jen for 21 years, living aboard for two years, and I modified her extensively in the course of our ownership. That solid coastal cruiser taught us a great deal about sailing and cruising, and I learned a lot from mistakes made in the sails department.
In those days, the most affordable, durable option in sailcloth for the cruising sailor / casual racer was Dacron. Thus, with the exception of spinnakers, all Meg Jen’s sails were Dacron. Over the years we had three mainsails, 6 Genoas, and a couple Spinnakers from 8 different sailmakers. All those Dacron sails were nice when new, but performance deteriorated rapidly as we pushed the boat hard, both cruising and racing.
In 2001, we became the proud owners of our First 42 “Ocean Angel”, not your modern day light-weight Beneteau. Displacing just over 24,000 pounds empty, she carries a cruising load just shy of 32,000 pounds, and she needs strong horses to pull her. She came to us with a very tired North mainsail, an Elvstrom Dacron working jib and an Elvstrom storm sail, a Sobstad Mylar laminate 125% Genoa, a North 3DL 155% Genoa, and two spinnakers. All those sails with the exception of the two working jibs are long gone.
We replaced the Mainsail in 2005 with a North Nordac full-battened main. That sail was extraordinarily durable and performed well for more than 20,000 miles. Between 2006 and 2016 we bought a number of headsails. One was a heavy Dacron 104% working jib from a major sail-maker, not North, which retained its shape for one season, actually only 36 hours. After that one run it had a shape resembling a balloon and was never used again. In 2005 we bought a Kevlar 155% and a Mylar/Dacron laminate 135%, both from Quantum. We haven’t used the Kevlar sail since 2008, when we stopped racing. The Mylar laminate sail held up reasonably well, but started stretching and coming apart at the 8 year mark. It blew apart in 2015.
You can get a good idea of what happens to Dacron sails as they wear from this photo below. Note the stretching and bagging.
With our working headsail now history, and with an 11 year old North Main, we needed help in the sails department. While attending the 2016 SSCA Gam in Melbourne, Florida, we came into an incredible stroke of good fortune. I sat in on a North Sails seminar presented by Zach Mason, about the technology and development of modern day sail materials. I was intrigued by North’s amazing technology and sat glued to my seat. At the conclusion of his talk, Zach told us about North’s newest sail material, one they felt would change the face of sails for the average cruising sailor. North had adapted their proprietary 3Di technology to Dacron cruising sails, but the material and sails were still somewhat in the R&D stages, not yet available to the sailing community.
After Zach’s presentation I walked up to ask when he thought this new material would become available because I needed new sails. He countered by asking me what type of sailing we did, where we sailed, and what kind of boat we owned. I told him all about Ocean Angel and our sailing adventures in paradise. He paused for a moment, then asked if I might like to be a test boat for North’s new sails. Say what?
To see why I was so excited about the possibility of having these sails on Ocean Angel – Watch this Video
I asked him what being a test boat would mean, and he promised to get back in touch within the week with more details. True to his word, Zach presented me with an offer from North Sails that I could not refuse. This story concludes with Ocean Angel carrying North’s game changing sail technology, our 3Di Nordac Main and Genoa.
I need to let you know that I am not paid by North Sails, nor was my evaluation of the sails a requirement for being a test boat. North’s only requirement of me was that I be willing to give my honest impression of the sails and maybe have a few photos taken of Ocean Angel and her new sails.
I’ll tell you straight up, the 3Di Nordac sails are the most amazing sails I have ever owned or used. They have changed our entire sailing experience. They are incredibly easy to trim; they don’t stretch; they don’t absorb water; they are slick as silk, and strong as steel. You can cut them with a knife or hatchet, and that tear will not spread. They can be repaired at your local North loft, or any loft for that matter, and you can perform temporary repairs right on the boat with a piece of Dacron and a little 5200. If that’s not enough, the pricing is projected to fall right in line with top quality Dacron sails. Need I say more? You owe it to yourself to make your next cruising sails North’s 3Di Nordac construction.
Check them out here North 3Di Nordac Cruising Sails