Building such a special yacht as the Omega 42 requires a lot of attention to details. The advantage of a project like this, as my yacht is literally being a “one-off”, that I have full control of all the issues of the yacht. This which in a series production boat are of no concern whatsoever to the owners as well as the big items, such as sails. As you may have read in my article about my first time sailing experience in the Omega 42, the sailing properties of this boat are absolutely amazing. No question that I need proper clothing for my own boat too.

What a great sight!

The owner of WINDFAENGER decided to have his sails tailormade by a local sailmaker, I am a bit biased when it comes to sails as I fancy Quantum. Many articles about sails upgrades for my clients here in this blog are about Quantum sails for a reason. So as it happens I used to find myself in the northernmost town of Germany, Flensburg, which is the headquarter of Quantum sails Germany. After finishing my business appointment it was time to speak about my own boat …

A base course in sails cloth & garments at Quantum Sails

I had just interviewed Sven Krause for our company´s podcast. He is a perfect counterpart for all questions related to sails and sail-cloth in particular not just because of the fact that he is the head of Quantum sails Germany. Also not for the reason that he is a skilled regatta-sailor and owner of a cruising yacht that he sails vividly. The most interesting part is his deep understanding of what a sail is made of and what must come together to make a sailboat taking off.

Quantum Germany boss Sven Krause

His 40 years experience in this business may not be matched by a few handfuls more people in Europe. Many years working for one of the world´s leading manufacturers for sailing cloth and garments, Dimension Polyant, he literally knows everything about weaving, material properties, sewing, laminating, impregnating and such. Having run his own sails-brand for almost 20 years in manufacturing his own sails, he started with Elvström and is now “Mr. Quantum” in Germany for almost 15 years.

Dacron, Cruising Laminates and Performance sails

Of course, realizing a project like he Omega 42 is a budgetary nightmare. There is no fixed end price. We are deciding step by step how things are realized. Since I have no end-budget, I have to try to keep things together, meaning the Euros, but also live up to my own expectations in getting the best possible outcome. In terms of sails this means, I´ll have to make a decision on which sails I go for. Sven gives me an interesting base lecture in the three main kinds of sails.

A close-up of Dacron

Dacron is a resin-tempered garment of polyester-fibers. These are woven in different qualities – meaning thickness and above all, different shear force resistance. Dacron cloth is mostly sealed by impregnation. The pros are a high tensile strength and abrasion resistance. Dacron is also very durable as the UV- and weather resistance is exceptional. The downside is a relatively short “performance life”, as Sven explains: After 2, 3 seasons Dacron sails loose their profile and are getting saggy. Budget-wise, Dacron sails are always the most cost-effective choice. The standard sails pack for my Omega 42 would be under 10.000 Euros. Stepping up a notch: Cruising laminates.

Dyneema fibers within XRP-sails

Skippers who want more performance, sailing fun, trimming capabilities and generally more fun will opt for a cruising laminate. There is a choice of garments available, like CDX, but Sven points toward a relatively new garment: XPR. This is a Cruising laminate with a high percentage of recycled materials – and as Sven assured me – zero disadvantages over common laminates. What´s better? Well, laminate sails are much more fun to sail, proved better trimming and will power the boat much better as keeping the profile is a specialty of laminate sails. Cruising laminates are a nice mixture (I don´t like the word “compromise” in this matter) between cost, performance and durability.

Aramid, Carbon and Taffeta

A third option would be the all-out performance sail. With Quantum those are called “Fusion”. Generally, they contain a much higher degree of different fibers, like Aramid and Carbon. Those sails are also laminated and contain films of Mylar and other materials. In racing and regatta those are the sails of choice, but not for a casual cruiser like me. So, I guess, the decision is clear …

Making a decision for my Omega 42

Sven takes out the calculations and offers for ALPHA: I had asked him to prepare a high-quality Dacron solution and an offer for a modern cruising laminate of which he thinks would suit best my boat and my very personal use case. Surprisingly enough, for the Dacron-setup my boat would end up just around 10.000 Euros including VAT.

Planning my Omega 42

It´s a different budget though for the XRP cruising laminate. These sails are just under 15.000 Euros, which I also deem a fair price. Of course I opt for the XRP-laminates and sealing the contract lets me put another “done”-mark on the huge to-do list connected to the Omega 42 project. Anyway, it´s surely not done with those sails, because we all know that neither a Code 0 nor a Gennaker must be missing on a serious sailing yacht. But that´s something for another special article on light wind sails.

The (for me) best compromise

“Do you want to see what we´ve been talking about?”, Sven asks me and invites me into the large workshop. This is a huge cozy warm hall, a large “shoes out!”-sign at the front door. A good sign for a quality sailmaker as they have a clean – preferably floor heated – room where the large sails can be unfolded for quality control, service, repair and maintenance.

A brand new Fusion sail

He takes out a new Fusion M-racing laminate sail for another client just to show me the material. It´s hard to make a decision by touching a 10 by 10 centimeters material sample, holding a real sail in your hand, feeling the quality, the seams and material finish is something different. You can really feel the sharpness and stiffness in this beautiful sail, but that was just for my information.

Almost 3 years in use

Another big main sail is taken out of the bag, Sven unfolds it to its full glory: “This is an XRP cruising laminate”, he says. I can clearly see the triradial cut of the individual parts of the sail, the strong seams where the reefs are built in and some other features. “This is a sail that I had on my own yacht for two and a half seasons now”, Sven says: “I´m selling it as a used sail to another owner.” My eyes get big: Almost three years old? Wow!

Why Quantum Sails?

And that is why I chose Quantum: I´ve seen it on so many boats of your Beneteau-clients who followed my suggestion and booked their upgrade of sails cloth with Sven. Those sails, kept well and regularly maintained, last for a long time. “Usually we say that you will have a great performing cruising laminate sail for four to six seasons, depending on the sailing area and the level of usage”, Sven says. But looking at this 3 years old sail I am really convinced.

Explainging the XRP-laminate properties

“You see, in a quality sailmaker, 70 per cent of the work is consultancy work and finding the right solution for each customer.” This cannot be done by typing in some measurements of you boat into a calculator and have a cheap made Asian product in your mail a few weeks later. “It takes some time to get to know the customer, his very own use case and project to come up with such a tailor made solution. For example your boat, Lars: You want to have three reefs in the main, you want a one-line reefing system and I know that your requirements for the mast sliders are of special concern. A computer-system cannot do this.” And right he is!

Patches against chafing

Sven points to a part on his sail where a strong patch is stitched onto the laminate: “After one season latest, a few weeks or months most earliest, we can see the main points of wear and tear in a sail. Like here, where when going downwind the chafing on the spreaders takes place.” Sven points out that his work ethics include this after sales-service, which is to maintain the sails to ensure the maximum lifespan.

XXXXXXBILD 11 sliders

As for the sliders, he is perfectly right: The main sail of the Omega 42 is pretty impressive. A wind with a sails area of 45 square meters, held in a mainsheet that is operated by hand (no winch! See here) is pretty awesome and at times intimidating. Most of the time I will sail alone, so getting the clothing down for a reef is imperative. I need mast sliders that operate easy, coming down at an instant. The and many, many more points are discussed and different solutions presented. Only a sailmaker with a lot of experience, a big knowledge-base and the will to do this can provide such an individual solution.

Sustainability: A real thing?

I formulate my last questions a bit confrontational. Too often have I seen greenwashing and “marketing-sustainability”. I went for the XRP-laminate which is labeled “Eco.Series” by Quantum sails. I am honest as I have a strong aversion against jumping on the train of fake environmental consciousness. Spending my hard earned money on supporting a fake ideal makes me sick. But, as Sven assures me, this is for real.

Sustainable sailing?

The Eco.Series at Quantum comprises all three major product lines. There is an Eco-Dacron sail that consists of recycled Polyester-fibers, “my” XRP Eco.Series laminate consists of recycled fibers and recycled film and the “green” Fusion sails will have recycled Taffeta- and film surfaces. As the brochure states, to 100 per cent, which is not just an intermixture, but apparently a sail fully made out of recycled material. “In a main sail for a 40-footer there are some 2.300 recycled plastic bottles.”, Sven says.

Can´t wait to hoist my own …

He also re-assures me that the Eco.Series sails have zero disadvantages whatsoever in their service life, material quality and performance. “We have many clients actively using these sails, and I am one of them, and we cannot see a difference”, Sven says. And so I leave after three absolutely interesting hours, feeling happy and well-informed. My boat will receive sails-cloth at least as beautiful as her sister ship, the WINDFAENGER and I cannot wait to hoist those for the first time.


Also interesting to read, these are connected articles:

Performance inmast-furlings sails on an Oceanis 51.1

First time installing a Gennaker

A day at Quantum Sails Germany