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 Learning to sail on a C25 with old/original sails

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T O P I C    R E V I E W
hlprmnky Posted - 11/27/2022 : 11:58:39
Hello! As folks in the C25 specific forum probably already know, I am a relative newbie who is coming up on being done with “initial boat projects” seasons and about to embark on “getting out to sail every day I can” season on a 1986 SR/FK C25, on Lake Michigan and based out of Michigan City, Indiana.

As part of my winter maintenance and layup, I sent my sails off to the local Quantum loft for inspection and recommendations about maintenance. They came back with the verdict that the sails don’t need much direct maintenance, just some over-sewing of corner seams on the (roller furling) genoa, but that the main is “crispy” and the genoa is “blown out and has lost all upwind shape”, but they didn’t condemn them as unusable or anything.

Now, over the winter I’m reading Wallace Ross’s Sail Power and reviewing my ASA textbooks, and thinking about my upcoming season of day sailing and hopefully some weekend trips to other harbors on the lake. I’m a big believer in the value of directed practice to increase skills and understanding, so my plans include spending a lot of time doing tacks, gibes, and working on sail shape and sail trim to make these things more automatic and build intuition, not just going out to have fun (though of course doing drills like this will be fun, as you are all aware I’m sure).

So, my question for the group is: am I going to teach myself incorrect habits using these “older but serviceable” sails from the jump, or am I merely going to have to work harder to achieve good results? My preference would be to keep the older sails for a least another season, on the theory that I’m more likely to make any sail-destroying mistakes earlier in my career than later and it would be better to mess up “free” sails than new ones. I don’t mind going slower than I might, or not pointing as high as I might, were I to replace them this year. My only concern is that I not teach myself bad habits working with the older sails.

My hope of course is that you all say “that’s not a thing, go sailing with what you’ve got” but I am asking because I know that I don’t know. Thanks for any advice you might have!
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OLarryR Posted - 11/28/2022 : 22:47:05
Agree with all said. Rcmd start off with the existing sails. Only time you will really notice sails are blown out is when trying to sail as close to the wind direction,, as feasible. If you have a Wind Vane/Indicator at the top of the mast, the two stationary tabs generally indicate as close to the wind as you will be able to attain. If you are on a close tack and the indicator tail is moves just inside the two tabs, then your sails will luff/begin to luff. Decent sails, you should be able to close tack with indicator tail approaching very close and directly above the tab. Blown out sails, depending on how blown out the sails are, they will start to luff just approaching the tack tabs.
Blown out sails are generally identified because they do not hold their shape in the center of the sail and since that area is where they are primarily stretched, that is generally the area where you first notice a luffing or area that bellows out a bit since it is not maintaining sail shape against the wind.

When I bought my boat in 2005, it had the original sails. While the sails did not have any tears or significant worn areas, I could tell the sails were blown out. I noticed on nearby sailboats on similar close tacking, they were able to sail closer to the wind. That was not such a big deal since I did not race. However, since I sail on the Potomac River and it is effected by high/low tides, trying to get as much out of a tack especially on light wind days is a factor. After a year or so, I then bought new sails.

The most reasonable sails, you can get online and as mentioned in another posting, you can also get them Catalina Direct. Not sure when you will be ready to buy new sails but your posting indicated you have a local Quantum sail loft nearby. Quantum makes excellent sails and they will even come down to your boat take measurements and ask you about your preferences. But it does come with a hefty price...upwards of twice the price of some of the online retailers. In my case, I went with Quantum and my sails have been excellent.

Since you are just getting started with your boat, you may want to hold off new sail purchases for awhile to give you some time to gain experience with the old sails, get a feeling for how often and under what wind conditions you will primarily be using your sailboat, Some go out perhaps twice a month while others go out 3-4 times a week and under light and heavy wind conditions. Of course, the more you go out, the more likely to. be out under occasional adverse conditions. (Windier conditions place more force on the sails and then over time/years sailcloth can stretch.) So, various factors can weigh, they may weigh in on new sail purchases.

Rcmd use the Search function on this forum to check my past postings on new sails as well as postings by others.Also do addl research on your own - Rcmd check out Mack Sails on the web...mainly to just read what they have compiled for new sail considerations.. A reasonably priced sail that others recommend may be all the research that needs to be done. But just consider that Challenge Sailcloth, a sailcloth that is used by many sailmakers, their website can be accessed directly and you will find that Dacron sailcloth is actually sold in at least 4 different grades and these grades differ in how prone or less prone they are to stretching. Dacron sails easily last over 20 years but some, depending on how often used and wind conditions subjected to will start to stretch in just a few years or so versus the higher grade Dacron sailcloths that have a denser weave may have limited stretching even outwards of 10+ years. When you buy new sails, you are really buying sailcloth and many that buy sails do not know what sailcloth or grade they purchased. The sailcloth weight by itself, can also be misleading since sometimes a lower grade sailcloth with significant resin coating can weigh more than a higher sailcloth grade. Researching all of this is not everyone's desire. So, if not really into the micro-details, at least If you get new sails that are recommended by others and from a well known and respected loft, then that is a good sign.

So, just go out and enjoy sailing with the existing sails and then wait to when you are in a better position to consider what you want when buying new sails.
Voyager Posted - 11/28/2022 : 17:49:42
Without fail, I get an email every September from Catalina Direct for their “Best Value Sails of the season “, with deep discounts on your C25/250 sails once a year. You submit your order and payment in the fall, and lo! Come springtime, a suite of beautiful new crispy sails appear long about April. These are delivered to you just in time for your spring commissioning and launch. It’s a helluva good and reliable deal for any sailor in need of new sails. If I needed them, then I’d be the first in line for new Catalina sails!
Steve Milby Posted - 11/28/2022 : 06:04:09
There's no harm in using old sails while you learn, but, when you decide to buy new, get good quality sails from a well established sailmaker. I got a horrible genoa from a well known discount sailmaker. Their quality is inconsistent.

The best deals on sails are offered during the winter season, commonly during boat shows. When you decide to buy, replace the genoa first. The C25 is primarily driven by the jib. The mainsail has much less to do with the boat's overall performance than the jib.
glivs Posted - 11/28/2022 : 05:04:04
Ditto what Scott said. Also remember you can find decent sales from sail lofts, such as Ullman Sails, if you purchase your sails in the Sep-Oct time frame.
islander Posted - 11/27/2022 : 12:45:46
I don't see that your going to teach yourself any bad habits since using new or older sails require the same motions. Also unless you plan to race you might not even notice the difference. Maybe a degree or two less pointing ability but again not a big deal for day sailing. I say keep what you have and go out and enjoy yourself. You can always get new sails later. Experiment with different sail settings and see and feel how the boat responds. Above all ENJOY YOURSELF!

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