The History of the “Sail”

The characteristics of a sail are due to design, construction and the attributes of the fibers, which are woven together to make the sail cloth. There are several key factors in evaluating a fiber for suitability in weaving a sail-cloth.  Sails are constructed of fabrics that may be woven or manufactured as films. The sail are often assembled of multiple panels that are arrayed in a manner that transfers the load from the wind to the sail’s attachment points—a combination of corners and edges—that transmits the load into the mast and powers the boat. Construction of such sails requires stitching, bonding, reinforcements and other features to achieve this. Other sails are constructed directly from fibers, filaments and films. Doek is Dutch for cloth, which was evolved into the English word “duck” in reference to sail canvas. Duck was typically made from cotton or linen (flax), with some use of hemp. These natural fibers have poor resistance to rot, UV light and water absorption. Linen is stronger, but cotton is lighter. Linen was the traditional fiber of sails until it was supplanted by cotton during the 19th century. At first cotton was used as a matter of necessity in the United States as it was indigenous and the supply of flax was periodically interrupted by wars such as the War of 1812, during which demand for sailcloth for military use was high. As sail size grew linen was too heavy to be practical so cotton became more popular. Cotton did not substantially replace linen worldwide until the end of the age of sail; however, in some cases the strength of linen was preferred for some types of sails. It was not until the late 20th century that natural fibers were replaced by synthetics in mainstream use. Cotton sailcloth is still used for sportswear, upholstery and draperies. The traditional width for carded cotton sailcloth in the US was 23 inches (58 cm) while the British standard was 24 inches (61 cm).[1] Do you include flax seed in your diet for good digestion or weight loss? Well, sails used to be made from flax fiber! Until the USA came up with something better and won the oldest sailing cup in history… Here’s your complete sail-making guide, check out the video!!




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