Brian Hancock


29 Jun
                                                     Photo Credit – Jacques Vapillon

The Swiss sailor Laurent Bourgnon was reported missing last Thursday after failing to return from a diving trip in French Polynesia. Laurent who, you ask? Well let me clarify that. If you are a non-European you probably have never heard of him and wonder why this is big news. If you are Swiss or French he is a household name, a sailing superstar, someone small French kids aspire
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Fastnet Force 10

18 Jun
                        Just one of the awful images from the ’79 Fastnet Race

While those of us (in the Northern Hemisphere at least) are enjoying some summer sailing (rather than snow shoveling) I am going to take a break from writing my blog on sails and sailmaking and do a series of TBT (Throw back Thursday) blogs looking back at some of the amazing sailing experiences I have enjoyed over the last few decades. This blog goes back to the Fastnet Race in 1979.

It’s almost 36 years since I ...
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Some sailing trivia

11 Jun
                    All About Sails blogger Brian Hancock at the helm of his own boat Great Circle.

With summer here (at least in the Northern Hemisphere) sailors are out sailing rather than reading blogs about sailing and for that reason I am going to take a break from excerpting my book Maximum Sail Power into blog size chunks and write some lighter, less technical pieces. Here are some lesser known bits of sailmaking trivia to get things started.

Have you ever wondered where the name Nylon came from? Me neither until I
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A blog about the All About Sails blog

1 Jun
This is a blog about the All About Sails blog. Since launching the website and blog a few months ago we have posted 20 blogs covering everything from the different fibers used to make sails to the different kinds of engineering that designers use to come up with to make the best sail for your own particular purpose. The idea has been to give you, dear reader, a solid understanding of how sails are made. Some of the content may have been a bit dry but thanks for getting through it and thanks also to those numerous people who have ...
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CH 5 – Molded Sails – Part 2

20 May
Continuing Improvements to 3DL
Like most new technologies, the first 3DL sails had some unanticipated glitches, including problems with laminate adhesion and durability. These issues, however, have been rectified over the years and the latest generation of 3DL sails are as close to perfect in terms of construction quality as they are likely to become. Big gains have also been made in terms of understanding the relation- ship between actual load paths and the fibers laid along those paths to reduce or eliminate stretch. Since sail shape development and stretch elimination is an ongoing process, it’s likely that the fiber
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CH 5 – Molded Sails – Part 1

7 May
The changes in the sailmaking industry have been nothing short of astounding since the invention and implementation of molded sail technology in the early 1990s. Before that time, although fibers and fabrics had developed to a point where laminated sails in particular were light, strong, and held their shape extremely well, the process of orienting panels around a load catenary was still somewhat unwieldy. The reason for this was that in order to take advantage of the low-stretch properties of today’s exotic yarns, the yarns had to be continuous and precisely follow the load lines in the sail. When these ...
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CH 4 – All about radials

21 Apr
While cross-cut sails were built from woven Dacron, laminated fabrics allowed sailmakers to build both cross-cut and radial sails depending on how the fabric was engineered. When the fabrics were laminated the scrims were laid so that the strength in the fabric could run in the warp direction, the fill direction or both. Fill-oriented laminates were still used to build cross-cut sails, while warp-oriented laminates were used to build radial sails, i.e., sails in which the panels were not just stacked up parallel to the foot. Sailmakers had been building tri-radial spinnakers for some time so the concept of orienting ...
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CH 4 – A Primer on Panel Layouts

14 Apr


Different Layouts for Different Fabrics

There are two equally important aspects to sail design: aerodynamic shape and engineering. Aerodynamic shape refers to the curved foil that the sail will present when it is flying under certain conditions. Engineering refers to the various fabrics and fibers that will be used in building this foil and the precise manner in which they will be put together. In fact, these two aspects of sail design go hand in hand since a perfect shape is useless if it distorts when a load comes on the sail. Similarly, an over-engineered sail is equally useless if ...
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CH 3 – Laminated Sails in Depth

6 Apr

Laminated fabrics have come to play an increasingly larger part in the sailmaking industry and their continued growth is assured. There are a number of reasons for this:

  1. Lamination is the most effective way of combining materials with different characteristics to maximize the advantages of each.
  2. Laminates allow individual fibers to be placed in straight uninterrupted paths. This is the most effective way of getting the most from the fibers and the most efficient way of using a fiber.
  3. When films like Mylar or PEN are introduced, the result is an effective way of minimizing off-threadline stretch.
  4. As laminates have
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CH 3 – All About Laminates

30 Mar
While woven fabrics have stood the test of time, sailmakers are continually looking for new ways to build sails, and in particular for ways to graduate the weight of fabric throughout the sail since the different parts of a sail experience markedly different loads. For example, there is little need to have heavy fabric along the luff or in the body of the sail since these areas are subjected to very little loading. The leech, on the other hand, is an area in which a sail designer needs to be sure to place a fabric with both high modulus ...
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