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Cuts

Sails can be made in various cuts. We show here the most common. Not every type of cut fits every sail.

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Fixing sails part 2

Spring is coming.

The first warmer days are behind us, now the thought of the first sail in the new season is becoming more and more real. May comes around, we lower the boat on the water, rig it, put up the sails and …. oh, shit!!! It turns out that there is a hole here and a small crack there. Nothing else to do but take the sails to a sailmaker’s shop!! But sailmaker’s shops are very busy during this time of year and the payment for repairs will make your pocket lighter. May is the busiest month for sailmaker’s shops: orders, which began in the winter and spring are being finished. Deadline for the pick-up of most sails is set at the beginning of May (long weekend).

During the winter, when the old sail is taken to a sailmaker’s shop, after careful visual inspection, places are shown to the customer that have not yet fallen apart but there is a big chance of it happening in the upcoming season. Minor repairs are done for a much lower price than during the season, during this time you can also think about possible alterations of the sails for their improvement.

In summary, let’s get into the habit of inspecting sails much earlier, and not during the high season, when the sails are already on the boat!! This results only in benefits to each party.

Our concepts.

The subject of sail repair (whether it is routine maintenance or repairs for the new season – a repair is always a repair) was discussed in the March issue of “Rejs”, so I will not duplicate the same topics.

Before the new season, I would like to draw attention of the sailors to our new “idée fixe” concerning changes in the sails. Slides, full battens, lazy jacks on mainsails, furlers for foresails and mainsails. Most of us already know these solution, but not all of us know them from up close and not everyone uses them.

While on sailing vacation, it is not the time to make some major changes to the sail, because we just came to the conclusion that it would be a good idea. It is the time to develop a decision – what to change and why? Not having some of the solutions on your sails, having no contact with them so far, you can consult other users in regard to the above patents. And so, slowly, the idea turns into a plan, whose implementation is best during the winter. There is a lot to think about, even in the case of older sails. If you make an effort, you can really make your life easier on the boat, and even make it safer.

Old sins, such as:

– Flapping sail edges

– Falling apart batten pockets on the mainsail

– Tearing sail edges

– Fraying sail slides

– Eyelets falling out, etc.

all hinder the sailor’s work to a greater or lesser extent.

A winter visit to a sailmaker’s shop to repair the above elements, often brings radical solutions in regard to the alterations of the sail, which were maturing in the sailor’s mind in the summer, and after the season were confirmed by the sailmaker.

As I wrote earlier, a lot can be improved even in old sails. First of all – flapping sail edges – the simplest solution is to pull the trim rope into the leeches and mount cleats on the sheet.

Second – it is necessary to cut off the flapping sail edges in order to remove the fabric dragged over from the sail and additionally to saw in the trim rope.

In addition, short strips can be sewn on the foresail on the leech to prevent the leech from rolling to the inside. Such rolling notoriously happens in case of most older foresails. It can also be done on a genoa but here the result might not be so good – a genoa reaches far past the mast, and at every turn the strips will hit the mast.

This solution is possible but not necessarily recommended.

Third – foresail furlers – when we get tired of taking down and putting up the foresail, it is time for furlers.

Personally, I do not have a high opinion of furlers, but these devices have their pros, which means that they are often used. An old foresail can be converted for any furler, whether on wire rope, whether on an aluminium profile, without damage to the sail and without bigger problems.

Special fabric to protect against UV radiation is sewn on the foot and leech on a furled foresail (this is not a decoration, as some think). If the sail is not very worn, it’s worth doing, because the furled foresail, left “at the mercy” of the sun, reacts rather poorly to sunbathing. The photo below shows a burnt UV cover. (made of regular cloth, not intended for this purpose)

 

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Speaking of furled foresails – strips can also be sewn on them, on the leech. They can be rolled strips, sewn horizontally (there are ones like this but rather stiff, due to which they are not very suitable for relatively light sails – 6-7m boats) or vertical strips sewn parallel to the luff. Below is a picture of a foresail with vertical strips.

Listwy pionowe na foku

Listwy pionowe na foku

 

Improving the mainsail.

I have already written about a flapping leech, now its time for pockets. Why do they tear so often? The first reason is improper construction of a pocket. In this case, the solution is to sew a new one, using Dacron with appropriate thickness, sewn with a UV resistant thread (it’s no longer pretentious, this is a standard!), closed in a way preventing the batten from falling out by itself. When the batten already falls out, the destruction of the pocket by the sailor himself begins in a very simple way – the wooden batten comes into action, often stretching the pocket, causing its tearing. The batten after soaking becomes a lot heavier and its inertia is large if the mainsail is flapping, which is not without effect on the funds in your pocket.

After the wooden batten breaks (which happens quite often if folding the sail with the battens) its sharp edges cut the pocket fabric when you pull it out, which usually does not occur immediately. Unfortunately, laminate battens are not as popular in sailing stores, and not everyone thinks in advance about ordering spare battens at the sailmaker’s shop.

Summary.

We could talk for longer, or shorter, about virtually every element of the sail. Sailor’s thoughts regarding changes in their sails take concrete shape at different times of the year, but in summer the implementation of these ideas does not always agree with the date of execution of such a service at a sailmaker’s shop. The sun is shining, vacation time is slowly running out, there are less and less weekends, and the sail is laying at the sailmaker’s shop and waiting for its turn, which is the longer, the stronger the sun shines. With the multiplicity of adverse circumstances, the amount of repairs that are absolutely necessary to be done “immediately” causes that the sailor is not able to make them on his own, and putting them in the hand of a sailmaker deprives him of the possibility of sailing for a week or two, which for some is synonymous with the end of their sailing vacation. Sometimes the solution is an express repair at the sailmaker’s shop for a higher price (costs!!), but sometimes even this is not possible, because the sailmaker’s shop is just accepting its 68th express order and is on the verge of insanity.

Will we be wiser in this regard in the next season? We’ll see!!

Greetings from the “Narwal”.

 

Andrzej Kiełsznia

 

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Fixing sails part 1

Sail repair.

When using our sails, we are often faced with a dilemma: should we ignore a tear, which appeared on the sail, and keep on sailing (with a possible enlarged tear in the future) or should we spend an hour or two on a makeshift patch. A large repair usually requires a visit to a sailmaker’s shop. A small repair, maybe not very spectacular and maybe visible from afar, but when done carefully, will allow for a long lifespan of the sail when sailing in not too strong winds.

If you decide to repair a sail on your own, you will need several sizes of needles, a thicker nylon 6 thread (houseline – preferably waxed, because in many cases, it automatically holds the thread tension in the seam), a sailmaker’s palm and scissors. Often times, pieces of Dacron, which you can buy at any sailmaker’s shop, are also needed.

The basic principle that should be followed during the repair is that the patch should not wrinkle the sail fabric around the worn area. The rest depends on how much time is spent on tedious sinking of the needle into the fabric. The more pricks, the more effective repair, which will withstand stronger gusts of wind. How many pricks are needed? Machine stitches on the sail are a reference point – there, a needle hits the fabric every few millimetres, and this dense network formed by an apparently thin thread upholds very large areas of the sails, allowing for their use.

The same goes for ripped seams. Whether they connect the sail gores, or attach the hems (corners, leech belts, pockets) – in any case, ignoring a small frayed area can result in a major repair of the sail at a sailmaker’s shop. Few people would want to manually sew a 3 metre seam, the more so that it could have been avoided.

From experience I know that hardly anyone succeeds in stitching large rips at home, because it is difficult to maintain the proper orientation of ripped or torn surfaces relative to each other. The result of such home repair will be a “whole” sail, but with a broken profile around the new stitching. Therefore, my advise is not to underestimate small tears, because it results in costs on repairing the sail or sailing with a deformed sail which was fix at home.

I am going to list elements of the sail, which get damaged most often, as well as quick ways to repair them:

1. Torn stitching on the corners.

Simply stitch it manually or using a home sewing machine.

2. Batten pockets.

One of the elements of the sail most vulnerable to damage. Partially unravelled places must be filled in, not allowing for further unravelling. Torn fabric as a result of chafing or broken battens should be fixed by sewing a patch there. Width of the patch should be the same as the width of the batten pocket. Simply sew the patch on the old seam where the pocket is sewn to the sail.

3. Edges of the sail.

If the mainsail edges are inserted in the boom and mast sail tracks without the use of slides, the areas in the beginning and end of the edges are the most vulnerable to damage.

 

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On the boom, it would not hurt if we put on a band made of rope or tape through the eyelet in the clew, which will grasp the boom. It acts as protection, which does not allow the bolt rope to break away from the sail when the bolt rope on the clew tears in the strongest place, i.e. right on the corner. If the bolt rope breaks away from the sail, a visit to a sailmaker’s shop will be required. Currently, on new mainsails we can very often see slides (stainless steel and plastic) attached on the clew, which seamlessly fulfil the task of the bolt rope at this point.

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Once the foot of the mainsail is free, the clew can be attached to the boom, for example like this:

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and

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4. Eyelets.

If we see that eyelets “come out” from the corner or the support, we do not have many options. In the short run, we can secure the eyelet, sewing it using nylon 6 tape or even a thicker thread. In amateur conditions, this should secure the eyelet from falling out of the sail for a short time. Ultimately the sail must be taken in for repair.

5. Seams connecting gores.

You can easily and cheaply secure small rips yourself, while larger ones should be taken to a sailmaker’s shop, where they can be secured relatively cheaply but much more preferably for the efficiency and lifespan of the sail.

 

Spinnakers and gennakers – specific sails made from a specific fabric. In case of these sails, all the problems described above are multiplied. The reason for this is much less thickness and strength of the fabric from which a spinnaker (gennaker) is made, i.e. nylon. A small rip can (under favourable circumstances!) tear a sail in half. Independent repair of small rips in seams can result in tedious filling in of the seam by hand, stitching on the home sewing machine or taping with a piece of self-adhesive Dacron (available at any sailmaker’s shop and in most sailing shops).

For larger rips, it is most preferred for the efficiency and lifespan of the sail to have it repaired at a sailmaker’s shop. With this type of sail it is much easier to make a mistake in connecting the torn edges on large sections. Often times, one edge of the fabric get dragged over and when connecting both edges back together we must lose the extra length on the larger part. We cannot allow this extra length to collect in one place, as this will result in a thicker section, which will cause the formation of radiating wrinkles and, consequently, chafing of these wrinkles and subsequent repairs.

What seams should be used for repairs?

The fundamental issue which determines their efficiency is not their appearance, but their quality. Their quality is reflected in as uniform tension of the thread (houseline) over its entire length as possible. Furthermore, it is preferable if they are arranged in a zigzag, like machine stitches. This consequently provides more points of connection between the two pieces of fabric on the given length, as opposed to a straight stitch.

 

Andrzej Kiełsznia

 

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Wintering sails

Winter is almost here, what about the sails? … exactly.

The old Polish custom is to remove the sails with the onset of winter, throw them into storage, put an anchor on top… and forget about them until May.

It is a dark scenario, not widespread, but it certainly happens sometimes. For us, however, it has become proverbial when it comes to the attitude of a large part of our customers towards to issue of winter storage of sails.

It does not always look so bad, but neither does it look rosy.

The basic issue in deciding on the winter storage of sails, is to put away fully functional sails, not torn, not wet – in such a condition, so when removed from storage they are immediately suitable for sailing.

The vast majority of those who hope that they will get their sails in order in the spring, and not now, end up with the short end of the stick in the spring (in May). This is because, firstly, there was no time to take the sails for repair, secondly, if the time to take them to the sailmaker’s was found, it turned out that the price is … “how much???? ” – and the sailmaker with Olympian calm responds – and where were you in the autumn?, it would be much cheaper, and now please take a look, here are stacks of sails to be ready yesterday. And that’s why the price has to be so high.

And what now – do you pay, or sail with damaged sails and just wait until the damage will increase, because this is usually the case?

This scenario is often repeated at the sailmaker’s shop in the spring.

Conclusion? – I leave to you.

I will write the same thing again next autumn.

And now, a few comments for those who treat their property with respect.

 

  • Remove the battens – leaving them in the sail in case of a small mistake when folding the sail will create a new product, i.e. a propeller from the twisted batten. This will cause chafing of the pocket in the sail, which does not look good. As to the propeller, now we just need to purchase an aeroplane to go with it.
  • Inspect the sail in search of minor chafing and tears. When they happen on a single or double layer of the sail, they can be easily sewn on a home sewing machine. If they happen on a thicker part of the sail it is better to take the sail to a sailmaker’s shop. There, such a thing will be easily sewn.
  • Bolt rope. If you see that the mainsail luff is heavily wrinkled due to contraction of the bolt rope, then you can try to fix it yourself – you have to unravel the bolt rope attachment to the sail on the tack, hook the head of the sail to a tree or a pole, and pull the tack. The bolt rope should be drawn to the sail, and the sail will thus be extended, which will cause it to become flatter and certainly more efficient. If you can sew the end of the bolt rope in a new place to the sail, that’s good, if not, it is not a major issue. Just do not use the capstan in this case to tense the mainsail halyard on the boat.
  • Hardware such as halyard winch, eyelets at the corners – you will probably not be able to fix these elements yourself. If something is not right with these elements, a visit to a sailmaker’s shop will be required.
  • Dry the sails well!
  • Folding the sail – if it is very old, it is enough to fold it properly. If it is new, it is better to roll it (if there is space for its storage in such a form). If there is no space, then fold it evenly, without creases, pressings. Put it in a dry place, do not place other hardware on top.
  • Rips – as in the case of the mainsail.
  • Hardware – slides, wire rope – inspect the seizings, replace those that look weak. Check the wire rope – if you can, take it out of the luff, if not, move your hand over the Dacron strip shielding the wire rope. What are you looking for? – Cracked stands. If there are some, then I suggest to replace the whole wire rope – do not look at the number of cracked stands. “Two are cracked – there is no problem, it will hold” – this is an example of wrong thinking. If two broke, others will break as well.
  • Soft rope on the luff to the rigid stay – if there is chafing on the Dacron belt shielding the rope, then either sew patches in these places, or replace the entire belt with the rope.
  • The rest is the same as in the mainsail.
First of all, we look for tears, chafing. Most of them can be fixed by gluing self-adhesive Dacron over them. It can be found in sailing stores in different colours (white, red, green, blue, yellow, black, grey). If you can’t buy it there, order it, or buy it from a sailmaker’s shop. To seal a tear, dry the torn place, stretch on a hard surface – preferably on a wooden board. You can then pin the sail material in several points to the board. This creates very good conditions for evenly applying the patch made of self-adhesive Dacron. After applying the patch, press the patch with a hard and obtuse tool (the outer part of the blade of scissors), so that the glue catches the fabric better.

 

And that’s all.

The rest of the work with these sails is drying and folding. Spinnakers are usually folded without rhyme or reason. However, despite all I recommend to fold the sail for the winter with care. Although the spinnaker fabric is quite resistant to such treatment, it is not indestructible. And its destruction mainly consists in removing its hardening layer by repeatedly breaking and crushing the fabric in the use of the sail.

When the hardening layer is crushed, the fabric itself begins to be less stable, it will stretch and let wind through. To be convinced of this, please perform an experiment – place a piece of fabric from an old spinnaker on your mouth and blow through it. The same must be done with the fabric from a new spinnaker. With the old spinnaker, the air will pass through the fabric, in case of the new one – it has no right to do so.

 

 

Andrzej Kiełsznia

 

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Jibs

Initial remark – this is not a scientific text – that would require a lot more space. It is well known that no one in Poland has described sails in terms of aerodynamics in such detail as Czesław Marchaj in his book “Sailing Theory – Aerodynamics of Sails.” If you are not familiar with this publication and feel the need to gain more knowledge, I highly recommend this read. It is a book written by an enthusiast for enthusiasts.

My goal is to raise some issues that may be useful for users of sails that do not have a lot of sailing experience, or the time to expand it.

A few words about the materials.

The basic material from which sails are made is synthetic fibre i.e. polyester (other names include Dacron, Tergal, Terylene). Polyester can be weaved in various ways and thus different fabrics can be obtained – from recreational standard to racing standard Dacron.

Basic Dacron (recreational standard) is present in our everyday life. When we pick up a sail from the sailmaker’s shop, it seems to us that it is as stiff as parchment. After a year of use, we see that it became soft, it stopped making noise when folding and flapping in the wind. It is a normal phenomenon. The factory finish of the fabric was “crumbled” through its use and the sail became more “friendly” to the user. This does not mean, however, that it needs extra help, like rolling it into a bundle and jumping on it. This way, we will soon visit a sailmaker’s shop again to purchase its successor. With the right attitude, a sail’s lifespan can reach 10 to 20 years (it’s not an exaggeration), with a little help from the sailmaker.

But let’s get back to our topic.

Dacron for recreational sailing should only be used for the horizontal cuts. To make a radial cut sail, we must have Dacron, which is woven directionally, i.e. transfers heavier loads along the warp (the edge of the material).

Among the special types of Dacron, we can also mention Dacron that allows for rolling the sail on the stay without much harm both to its profile, and lifespan (most common: DC and Profile from the German company Dimension Polyant).

We will return to these types of sails a bit further.

Among the basic front sails, called staysails, we can distinguish:

  • Genoa
  • Working jib
  • Storm jib

It is a basic set, which should be featured on every boat to ensure our safety on a sailboat. Having a too big staysail in case of too strong wind, we will dedicate too much attention to controlling the sail, instead of our course. Too small of a sail is theoretically safer but, in turn, in some cases, it gives too little thrust. When it comes to the genoa and the working jib, they will be discussed in general terms in the discussion on furling jibs. Instead, I would like to focus on the storm jib.

It is the most “neglected” sail. It is well known, that on smaller bodies of water, in case of bad weather you quickly sail to the shore or not sail out at all. It seems, therefore, that in our set of sails, the storm jib is unnecessary. Nothing could be more wrong!

And what in the case of larger bodies of water? And what if the change in the weather comes suddenly, the motor will not start or there is no motor? If we do not have storm sails we are at the mercy of the elements.

With the ability to reef a large area of the mainsail, and not just one or two square metres, and with the use of a storm jib, we have control over the boat. When one of these sails gets torn, we can still partially control it. There is nothing worse on a sailboat than helplessness because of own negligence in regard to the element of water or air. A common practice is to sail out using a vessel, with “anything” hung above its deck: a mainsail with pockets without battens, a foresail with half the sail slides, etc. A storm jib should be a sail, which will provide us the ability to manoeuvre the boat in case of a really strong wind. There are conditions when the smallest sail must be taken down. The rigging area itself and the side area of the hull have such an aerodynamic resistance that the boat barely stays on the water, in a position in danger of tipping over. It is well known that a larger sail may be deprived of power, by loosening it so that it flaps. The only problem is that a large sail causes a large flap and large vibrations, and hence the possibility of destruction of the sail.

But that’s not all. Vibrations are transferred to the rigging, also affecting its destruction. Loose shrouds, stay, lanyards, broken pins is a result of the impact of excessive flapping of the sail. The result: the faulty rigging flies into the water, the “healthy” rigging will be weakened.

The need for a storm jib becomes clear. Its small size (20-25% of the area of the triangle defined by the mast, stay and deck) will allow us to use the strong wind to our advantage and “ignore” too strong gusts of wind without adverse effect on our sailboat.

Now a few words about furled staysails.

The simplest furlers on a wire rope allow us to quickly roll the sail for the purpose of parking, without major problems. Better furlers with an aluminium profile on the stay allow for a wider range of use of a staysail, which help to increase the safety of navigation, as I mentioned earlier.

Referring to the materials: a furled sail made of recreational standard Dacron after some time “remembers” the rolling and tends to curl in light winds.

Reefed on a rigid stay, it is consumed faster than a sail made of Dacron adapted for a radial cut and for rolling.

The greatest loads on the staysail are formed on the clew. From it, they radiate out to the rest of the sail, with a greater density in the direction of the leeches and the foot, and smaller towards the centre of the sail. The system of seams arranged along these loads causes that they are much less susceptible to breakage in comparison to the traditional horizontal layout.

All of this allows us to use a lighter fabric for radial sails. A lighter sail when flapping transfers weaker vibrations to the rigging, also obtains a smaller force of inertia, which increases in the direction of the leech and destroys it.

Each sail has a certain profile. By rolling it on the stay, we roll it from the edge of the luff inwards. If our goal is to reef the staysail, in order to obtain a better profile of the part that is not reefed, we can use the help of so-called compensating foam, sewn on the luff of the sail.

 

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Rolling the sail on a rigid stay increases its volume at the height of the biggest bulging of the sail, and flattens its profile in the deepest places, collecting more material there. It is not a necessary element for staysails, but it is helpful.

Rolling the staysail does not always collapse it correctly. Sometimes creases are formed on the rolled part of the sail – a layer of compensating foam will somewhat reduce the creases. In this case, it is also not necessary, yet it is helpful.

Contrary to popular belief, the most destructive factor to a sail is not water, but the sun. Currently, when a lot of boats are chartered, when we sail fast, because there is no time, because tomorrow or the day after tomorrow we go back to work, then the sails are simply rolled on the stay. We put them on the boom and leave them, because maybe we will sail again in an hour or tomorrow. Under conditions where there is no wind, and the sun is scorching, the radiation destroys polyester much faster, causing its structure to weaken.

Sailors sailing on the Mediterranean Sea know that without paying attention to shielding sails from the sun when parked, they will quickly become customers of a sailmaker’s shop, either or to repair the sails, or to sew a new set.

In order to protect the rolled sail, you can use Dacron factory protected against UV radiation. You can also sew fabric on the leech and the foot of the staysail to protect against radiation.

Often one sees sailboats parked by a berth, with the staysail rolled up, which seems to be blue or red. This is the UV fabric sewn on the sail’s edges. Another solution may be putting on a cover on the rolled up staysail. It is really worth it to take care of such seemingly unnecessary details in order to avoid unforeseen events. A sail which is not shielded from the sun when the boat is parked, after some time will simply tear when sailing (in the parts exposed to the sun when parked).

And it was not because of poor seamanship but due to negligence. A common mistake that significantly affects the working jib is too small stay tension. If the tension is correct, the effectiveness of the work of the staysail is greater than of a mainsail of similar size. The only factor disrupting the flow of air around the foresail is the stay (in case of the mainsail – the mast). The difference in diameters is obvious and the effectiveness, therefore, as well. The stay bends under the work of the working jib, causing the widening of the front part of the sail. If the sailmaker does not take this into account, too much depth of the foresail will reduce the effectiveness of sailing upwind (too much force on the foresail favourable for running free, a deterioration of cooperation with the mainsail, reducing its effectiveness in sailing upwind, and eventually flapping of the foresail leech).

If the bend of the forestay is too large, the best staysail will not be able to overcome this with exactly the same results (see above).

And the last element – staysail trim angle. In the majority of sailboats sailing on our inland waters, the place for installing the mainsheet track is marked by the boat manufacturer. It is averaged for practical reasons – a foresail is the most commonly used sail by our sailors – according to the principle: universality at a low cost. At a time when we want to use different sails with different sizes, for different purposes, or even to use a single furling sail on a rigid stay in a better way, the simplest operation allowing us to increase or decrease the trim angle is to use a kicking strap. A kicking strap is a pulley with a rope, attached to the foresail rope (prior to its entry into the lashing block on the sail track), making it possible to tighten the sail rope to the axis of the boat or to its side, allowing us to change the angle of the trim and better use of the given staysail in certain conditions. On larger sailboats, two long sail tracks running to the staysails are used. For longer cruises, much more important is to fit the correct size sail with its correct trim angle trim, as opposed to smaller boats during short trips on inland waters.

Now a word about wire ropes.

With a basic furling forestay (when the forestay luff assumes the role of the stay), it is necessary to place a wire rope in the luff.

In the case of pinning the foresail to the stay using slides, the wire rope is completely unnecessary. It is a custom from years ago, where the wire rope was used for large sails in seagoing vessels.

In this way, it secured the luff of the sail against excessive load when putting up the sail. It should be added that the staysail luff was tensioned using a capstan “to the max”. Certainty that you can turn the capstan until the first crack caused that it was turned to the second and the third crack as well. The wire rope was a kind of protection against overloading.

However, later it was an interference when folding the staysails, and improper seizing deformed the tack and the head, chafing the edge of the sail.

All our repairs of such sails came down to damage to the luff.

In this case, we have proposed using a soft rope – strong polyester or Spectra. Adding some slides to reduce the distance between them, while not causing the formation of folds between them on the luff (with a medium heaving of the halyard), was fully sufficient. An old sail was becoming “friendly” to the user, it did not sting with the wire rope when folding, it was easier was to control the tension of the luff. The fact is that it required a little smarter approach than before, but is that too much to ask for? All this is related to large staysails on large seagoing sailboats. As for the small inland sailboats, the wire rope with the simultaneous use of slides is completely unnecessary. Often a polypropylene rope is then sewn into the luff (an ordinary polypropylene rope). Slides placed suitably densely provide 100% effectiveness of such a system. This is not an untested solution used since last year. We have been using it for 10 years, always with positive results.

The purpose of this article is to provide readers with practical knowledge about staysails. Knowledge which we share every day with our customers. Some of them come to us with specified requirements for sails, and only consult certain details with us. Others rely in 100% on our experience and knowledge, only expecting good sails that will serve them for a long time. We try, whenever possible, to meet the needs of both. It is no trick is to sell one set of cheap sails, with a small area, sewn using too thin material and with cheap finishing elements. The trick is to sew good sails, with a long lifespan, wide range of use and ease of use. Very often it is better to pay more, but really not that much more, to get a good product. The price of a sail cannot be a factor in choosing the version of the sail. You have to pay attention to what the given sailmaker’s shop offers for the price. Our advice: before sewing the sails, consult your sailing friends, compare the craftsmanship, finishing details, price, functionality, efficiency of the sails. Only then can you decide on your choice of a sailmaker.

 

Andrzej Kiełsznia

 

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Sail area

Whew, the season is in full swing!!!

It was hard to find the time for the next portion of information for those interested, the season is in its peak and there is always a full waiting room of those willing to purchase a new “suit” for their floating wonder.

Not much time remains for additional activities and thus I did not submit my text for the July issue to Paweł Wojna.

This time, I made Paweł wait a bit, but in the end I came through.

What is the topic for today?

There is one topic that comes back to us like a boomerang when taking orders for new sails.

It is the sail area.

One such glaring example is the sails for the Polish Omega class sailboats.

 

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Everybody knows what it is, even those who don’t know.

Omegas in the form as we see them today have been sailing for a long time. At to the details, as previously, I send you to the website of the Omega Class Association (www.omega.org.pl).

But today, everybody who manufactures Omega class sailboats (incidentally, from what I know, only Jędrek Szynkiewicz from Barlinek has full and legal blessing of the late Juliusz Sieradzki for manufacturing Omegas) states the area of the sails as 15m².

This is NOT TRUE.

Sails for Omega class sailboats made according to the class rules can have up to 18.7 m² (mainsail and foresail).

Such a surface is achieved when making sails for racing boats.

 

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To be clear – for recreational boats, sets of sail from the “Narwal” sailmaker’s shop have less than 18m².

The difference stems from two reasons.

First reason is the additional gore on the foot of the mainsail in racing sails (we call it a “drawer” because when sailing by the wind it folds like an accordion, while when running free it shows all of its glory).

The second reason is that the sets for recreational sailing are flatter than racing sails.

And this is the whole truth about the surface of the sails for OMEGA class sailboats!


On the website of the Omega Class Association (omega.org.pl), 15m² sails are also listed in the technical data (this regards the comparison of the first Omegas with Chesapake 20, a boat on which Juliusz Sieradzki supposedly based the original Omega).

How big was the sail of the historical Omega from the 1940s, its first models, is now a mystery.

If someone has the sails from such a boat at home, it would solve one of the mysteries of the twentieth century, to show them publicly.

If anyone has plans of the sails for the original Omega, please contact us, for me this is one of the unsolved mysteries.

Personally, I think that it had about 18m², even if Juliusz Sieradzki wrote down 15m².

Why?

To this day, most sailboat builders, specifying sail area on their designs, when listing the areas of the mainsails, usually calculate them on an triangle.

Also, often they state the deflection value on the leech, but the area still does not agree neither after taking into account the deflection, nor without taking it into account.

The only positive exception, which I came across recently when making sails according to a design made by a sailboat designer, is the Mantra 8.5 by Andrzej Armiński. There, the area of the mainsail includes all the excess material added by the sailmaker and agrees almost perfectly with the area of the finished sail.

The remaining designers do not add the excess material at the luff, foot and leech.

They probably assume that the sailmaker will do it his own way anyway, so there is no need to reinvent the wheel.


State the areas of sails above as “up to 18.7 m²” and “less than 18m²”, I deliberately did not state that they have exactly this and that much.

This is due to the fact that as for racing boats we do not make a single model which is then copied for all others, so in the case of recreational boats, there is no single legitimate and approved model for all boats, as it was back in the good old days. And what a shame ….. those were the days – everyone received according to their needs; it was so nice and now it’s over ……

But returning to our topic – minor differences among sets of racing sails are primarily due to the quality of the mast on the given vessel and the version of the foresail.

 

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area 03

The mast – if it can be bent not with a tank suspended on top, but using shrouds and tension force on the mainsail sheets, then the area of the mainsail increases, because we make a deeper mainsail in order to maintain the class dimensions.

A deep mainsail gains on the area at this point, a flatter mainsail will have a smaller area. The differences are not big – in this case they amount to approximately 0.3-0.5 m² at the most.

A racing mainsail will have an area up to 11.9 m².

As for the foresails, the range of the area here can reach up to 0.5 m².

On traditional foresails, the leech is usually slightly concave. This prevents the leech from flapping, and allows for flattening the top part of the foresail when sailing by the wind.

If the sail has battens, the leech can be straight and the area will automatically increase.

Such differences may arise also in case of sails for recreational sailing – rarely, but still.

 


When writing this I contacted Włodek Radwaniecki – the president of the Omega association, in regard to the history of the area of sails for this class of sailboats.

He put his two cents in, relating to yet another aspect of these 15 m² of the Omega. In the 1970s, some “brain” introduced a regulation which stated that the sailing yachts with the area of the sails above 15m ² can only be sailed by persons with a skipper licence. Perhaps this brilliant edict caused that Omegas were given such an area, as they were so greatly desired at this point by the masses of users of the most popular vessel on our waters (or maybe kayaks were more popular? Hmm … maybe, maybe not? …)

And just like the few decades under the rule of this happy-go-lucky government distracted the nation to the point that we will still be getting over it for a long time, so the several years of this specification for the area of Omega sails resulted in the fact that if today we tell an owner of an Omega that his new sails will have an area of 18m ², he will be a bit surprised.

This topic could be continued in relation to other sailboats, both racing and recreational.

 


For comparison, I made a list of sail areas for several popular racing and recreational sailboats. The list includes sail areas popularly considered as obligatory and those which can be achieved without violating the regulations.

CLASS, TYPE SAIL COLLOQUIAL, MEASUREMENT AREA (M²) ACTUAL AREA, POSSIBLE TO ACHIEVE (M²)
Racing Omega

Mainsail + foresail

15,00 18,70

Racing Omega

Spinnaker

18,00 20,00

Recreational Omega

Mainsail + foresail

15,00 18,00
730

Mainsail

20,00 21,00
730 Genaker 40,00 43,00

Racing micro

Mainsail

12,00 12,60

Racing micro

Spinaker 18,00 20,50
Skippi 650

Mainsail

18,00 19,40
Skippi 650 Genaker 35,00 37,00
Sasanka 660 SN

Mainsail

12,50 13,66
Sportina 595

Mainsail

11,00 12,43
Corvette 600

Mainsail

11,50 12,35
Laser standard

Mainsail

7,02 8,02
Orion Mainsail + foresail 14,00 16,40
Corvette 650

Mainsail

12,50 13,66
Pegaz 737

rigging P

Mainsail

11,00 12,09
Pegaz 737

rigging S

Mainsail

14,20 15,44

As you can see above, the differences are both in case of racing and recreational sailboats.

There are differences, and quite significant, even where the measurement formula is strictly defined.

The conclusion is that we should be cautious in relation to the sizes of mainsails, gennakers and spinnakers stated by builders of sailboats in their designs, as well as the sizes of racing sails.

In case of racing sails, more important then the area of the sails are the correct class dimensions and the shape of the sail consistent with the requirements of the skipper and the crew.

 

 

Andrzej Kiełsznia

 

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Mainsail

In a previous article on staysails I described some of their types (large light-weather staysails, heavy-weather staysails – working jibs, etc.). In a discussion on the mainsail, I will focus on one sail, which should serve us for the widest possible range of winds. As the text below is intended for a wider group of readers, I will not get into the topic of light-, medium-, and heavy-weather mainsails because it is an issue for a small group of readers i.e. professional sailors. Most sailors have to deal with one mainsail on the boat and therefore can only use the sails available on a particular boat. The first thing you encounter when putting up the mainsail is the bolt rope in the luff and the foot. Since I can remember, 99% of mainsails have been attached to the mast and boom by means of a bolt rope. This was always associated with problems of chafing on the corners and excessive shrinkage of sail edges as a result of use of an improper bolt rope.

 

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Chafing appears in the head, tack or clew of a sail i.e. in places that perform the hardest work in the mast or boom profiles. After some time, these places become dirty at best, and often begin to chafe, after which they break away from the sail. In the case of racing sails, such attachment of the mainsail to the rigging is justified due to the “leakage” of air and consequently weaker thrust.

In recreational sailing, we don’t need to worry about this aspect. On a boat, there are so many factors allowing for enhancing the speed of a sailboat, so that it is fine to attach the mainsail to the mast using slides, which will make handling the mainsail easier while increasing its lifespan. Inserting the mainsail into the mast sailtrack requires two people – one heaves in the halyard, the other inserts the bolt rope into the sailtrack.

In case of slides, one person is always enough. When the mainsail is outside the sailtrack, the person first puts all the slides in the sailtrack, blocks them with a stopper so they do not fall out, and then heaves in the halyard. Then we can drop and put up the mainsail with no restrictions (provided that the slides will fit the sailtrack – and will not jam).

 

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In case of mainsails with the area of 30 – 40 m², sliders with plastic clasps can be used with no problems. This is a most appropriate system, although it would seem that plastic slides will crack. Nothing could be more wrong! Firstly, there are a lot of these slides (spaced every 50 – 60cm), and secondly, when one breaks it is because there was an unexpected “event” in this section, which caused an increase in the force pulling out the sail from the track to the limit.

And now:

    • In the case of a metal slide, the eyelet is likely to be torn out along with the bolt rope from the luff
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    • If it was a mainsail without slides, the sail could tear near the sailtrack
    • If plastic slides and snaps are used, one of these elements will crack first
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The conclusion?

Cases a) and b) result in a visit to a sailmaker’s shop for repairs. It is possible to fix this on one’s own, but it will not look good, and the guarantee that our repair will be sufficient is smaller.

In case c) the repair comes down to taking out a spare slide or snap from the secret compartment, replacing the defective element and sailing on! (Where the wind??).

I leave the comparison of time, cost and troubles associated with the repair to the readers. Foot of the mainsail is a place of a lot of confusion, erroneous approach, and the recipe is very simple – the foot of the sail should be free, running outside the boom. We often encounter a situation where the customer after picking up their mainsail and installing it on the boat calls us with disapproval in his voice: “Gentlemen! And where is the bolt rope for the the foot of the sail? Such a mistake!”

After a week of sailing the same customer calls us and confirms that our justification for this solution is completely right and that he already likes it. This situation occurs frequently … and what is our justification?

 

  • There is no sail in the boom – there is nothing to get damaged, there is nothing to repair, there are no additional costs
  • Of course, the mainsail is attached to the boom by the tack and clew of the sail. These places are always made with operation in difficult conditions in mind, due to the large forces acting there as well as chafing, and so nothing should happen there for a long time
  • the notion that the bolt rope at the foot of the sail sustains the boom over its entire length is wrong – the supporting force is only present at the point of attachment of the clew. When a bolt rope is used, it only closes the space between the boom and the sail for the escape of air from the lower part of the mainsail. How much air really escapes that way?

In the case of recreational sailing, you can skip this question, because this is not the way to increase the speed of your sailboat.

On the racing Omega class sailboats, where we use this solution, there is not an element which decides about victory, it does not bother anyone, and in some moments it even helps. It helps when you want to work with the foot of the sail when sailing. The lack of a bolt rope causes that the clew moves itself towards the mast when the mainsail is loosened on the foot, and when heaving it, there is no bolt rope resistance in the boom or stretching of the bolt rope itself.

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Andrzej Kiełsznia

 

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When ordering new sails

When ordering new sails, the customer’s fairly loose attitude to the issue of dimensions is quite common. A common response to the question about the dimensions of the new sails that we are to make, is – “I have typical rigging dimensions, make it according to typical dimensions”. Fine then, we sew the sails according to typical dimensions. The customer picks up the sails.

Satisfied with the new toy, he puts them on his boat …… and the horror starts.

Mainsail – the luff is longer by 30 cm, the foot shorter by 40 cm.

Foresail rolled on a rigid stay – the luff is shorter by 50 cm, the clew instead of 30 cm above the traveller track turns out to be about 45 cm above the track.

All in all, the foresail can be used, the mainsail must be shortened. This is not a terrible operation on the “patient,” but it result in a mainsail which no longer brand new and perfect, but one that was cut up to fit.

There are some sailors, for whom this is of no importance, but there are also those who will treat this matter very emotionally. After all, the sails were to be new, after fifteen years of sailing with wind torn old sails, patched over and over.

It’s like buying your first new car and two days later it turns out that you need to replace the fender and door.

At this point, this is no longer a new car. The same is with sails.

Let’s look at the picture.

gdy chcemy zamówić nowe żagle

gdy chcemy zamówić nowe żagle

Dear reader – first try to assess these sails yourself. What is done well, what could be improved and what is wrong.

And now my comments on the subject.

  • The foot could be about 10 cm longer.
  • The luff is fine – the distance from the halyard head to the lashing block of the mainsail halyard is correct.
  • The leech is okay, the boom is neither facing the sky or the deck (and hitting the crew’s heads).
  • Full battens – a good decision – more comfortable sailing with a well profiled and stable sail. In addition, the battens are stretched properly, you cannot see the tabs on the batten pockets that occur when the battens are not tight, and are transferred onto the sail in the form of wrinkles.
  • Two reefs – a good decision if someone is going to use them if they have the ability to make quick decisions while sailing in strong winds. One note – you can see in the photo that not even one of the reefs is prepared for quick reefing. The winds on the lakes are quite unpredictable. Within a few minutes the wind force may increase by a few degrees on the Beaufort scale, which certainly qualifies for reefing.Of course you can try to fight with full sails, but it is simply harmful to the “health” of the boat and the sails, not to mention the actual health of the crew. Sometimes I hear the explanation for the lack of a prepared reef – “but the shore is so close”. I leave this without a comment.
  • Sail trim – correct, sail edges were heaved in correctly, without unnecessary slack, which deepens the sail profile. And in this particular case we can see that the boat sails close-hauled and the additional depth of the sail is not necessary.
  • Numbers – are present, which means that they were needed. However, it is clear that the way they are attached is wrong (shining through). In this case, the numbers were sent to the customer after the sails were made and he personally attached them to the mainsail. He probably noticed that something went wrong when on the water, but did not re-attached them, probably fearing that after this they will no longer stick well to the sail.
  • Topping lift hooked onto the boom end – this is a rather bad idea. You can see that it bends the mainsail leech between the first and second upper batten. Its continuous use will lead to the tearing the edge of the leech, especially the ends of pockets, which are the most protruding part on the leech.
  • The luff could be about 30 cm longer upwards.
  • The leech – it is fine downwards, but upwards it could also be extended by 30 cm.
  • The foot could be about 30 cm longer.
  • Position of the clew relative to the traveller track (top-down) is fine.
  • Sail slides are visible on the luff. You cannot see it, but a soft rope (not steel) is sewn into the luff. As a result, the trim of such a luff always depends on the attention of the crew when sailing. Here, the crew took care of the luff trim properly (which does not happen often), you don’t see any “curtains”!!! Rarely do I see such a trim of the foresail luff with sail slides. The rest of the sail is also trimmed properly.

IN CONCLUSION.

There are some shortcomings in terms of dimensions, but they are not overbearing. Sails are used in a thoughtful and appropriate manner. This gives us a picture of the user who had a conscious approach to the design of the sails and also uses them consciously. The combination of these two factors (an exact order for sewing sail and their reasonable use) will translate into a long, repair-free use of the sails. And this is what I wish for you (taking away my livelihood in the form of the need for making new sails to replace destroyed ones).

When ordering new sails, most sailmaker’s shops will suggest you fill out order forms. Often our customers are scared: “So many questions? This looks so complicated!” Let me explain – it is not necessary to fill out everything. It depends on the needs. But generally we can assume that the more information, the more accurately the sails will be made. They will be closer to the individual customer requirements. Gone are the wonderful times where the customer had to take what was on the shelf or nothing at all.

Today, almost all sets of sails are different from each other, by smaller or greater detail, but different. So do not be afraid to open up your imagination and take a bit of effort to make these new long-awaited sails as close as possible to your ideas.

 

 

Andrzej Kiełsznia

 

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Curiosities

Hello again in the summer fever. However, the fever, unfortunately, results in the frantic search for summer weather. You could have experienced it for example, on the 18th of July, Sunday, on the way to Krynica Morska. During the congress in Krynica, there was a string of vehicles already in Nowy Dwór Gdański travelling at a dizzying pace of 10 km/h to their desired destination by the sea. This line of cars on the main road in the direction of Elbląg was about a few kilometres long. In the evening, the same situation existed in the other direction – from Krynica towards Elbląg. Half of the day in the car….. ugh.

The fortunate owners of sailing equipment (engine and wind powered) can at the moment appreciate owning their own (or chartered) means of transport. On the water it can also be crowded but not to this degree.

In order not to awaken the readers from the mood of holiday intoxication, today I will present some interesting facts, more or less useful to most fans of sailing.

It shows the aluminium cleat to the trim line on the leech of the foresail of a 50-foot boat.

You can guess that it wasn’t sailing on Lake Kisajn or Niegocin.

The cleat by definition is strong, but …

Yeah, but … salt ate through it. Anodising the cleats was either done so fast, that the cleat was not aware of it, or was not done at all. The effect is visible.

How much of the cleats crumbled during its dismantling can be seen on the floor by the sail.

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Why are there so many fabrics?!

After a series of articles presenting the fabrics offered by the sail shop, I meet quite often with the opinion that back in the day sails were made using only one fabric, maybe just a few. And there were no such problems with the selection as today.

One of the examples that technology is not wasted efforts but is actually beneficial is an example of laminated fabrics made in a mould. It is an implementation of objectives ideal for the sailmaker. We have the ideal profile of the sail with perfect curvature, with the objective accurately transferred to the sail. The implementation of such a project is very expensive, but we can treat this case as a field for experiments, where the results are transferred to products for ordinary users. As we know, sails made using this technique are usually acquired for professional racing purposes. And such sails always cost a fortune. Whether today, or 100 years ago, in the era of cotton.

Looking through pictures from the first edition of “America’s Cup”, I am always in awe of how using material which is so little stable, so difficult to handle, such sails were made for huge and heavy boats. This is proof of the existence of something called the art of sailmaking (not to be confused with craft). It was assisted by knowledge, but above all by intuition. This is true today.

By returning to the heart of the matter.

Back in the day, there were limited materials available. Today, there are endless materials for every occasion and we only need to be able to take advantage of this.

For example, 100 years ago spinnakers were made of cotton. Unfortunately they were very heavy. Today, creating a spinnaker which weights “nothing” is not a problem for any sailmaker. I am attaching a photo of a spinnaker which I described about a year ago (on the boat “Skalar” during races in the late 1980s on the Gdańsk Bay).

 

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The spinnaker was made by Rysiek Bobrowski using plastic wrap. It weighed a fraction of what spinnakers made using normal spinnaker fabric weigh today.

Another sail on the photo – mainsail. Basic material was plastic wrap, which at that time we called the “Polish Mylar”. Although in reality this stuff never even lay next to regular Mylar. The fact is that it was made in Poland.

This material was made up of a layer of loosely woven polyester with a weight of about 80 g\sq.m. and a layer of polyester film weighing about 20 g\sq.m.

In regard to weight, everything was all right. In regard to quality, it was all wrong. But the sail made of this fabric was used normally for a full racing season under full load and without any slack (in 0-9 degrees Beaufort)

Why?

It was sewn in a radial cut – which as a rule is stronger than horizontal.

It has been reinforced in a “smart” way, i.e. where it was needed.

On the back edge, the gores consisted of three layers – Polish Dacron 165 g/sq. m. in the middle, Polish Mylar on the outside. In the middle part, the gores consisted of two layers of the Mylar, one layer was enough for the luff.

Regarding the racing value of this sail, I estimate it at 7-8 points on a 10-point scale. Point missing are for the stretchability of the entire system.

Both the mainsail and the spinnaker were made of materials not intended(!!!) for making sails.

The conclusion is that even with the worst of the fabric one can make a decent sail.

The sailmaker’s correct approach to the appropriate fabric must lead to a decent result in the form of an efficient and good sail.

All fabrics used for making sails today have such a safety margin regarding strength, that sails which get destroyed fast must have an explanation for this fact.

Most often it is their relentless treatment by their users. For comparison – a sail made for Mr. Smith for his private sailboat will be used for about 10 years (and longer). In contrast, the same sail made for the charter company can withstand 4 years, and that will be a good result. After these 4 years, it resembles a dish towel more than a sail.

There are also errors made by the sailmakers, such as too lightweight material, the lack of adequate reinforcements, lack of information about the need for putting UV fabric on the foresail, inappropriate hardware on the sails, etc.

The most common mistake made today by sailors regarding furled foresails is leaving the foresail on the stay for a longer period without a strip of fabric protecting against UV radiation.

I am presenting pictures showing the state of damage to the leech and the foot of the foresail as a result of the sun.

Edges of the sail were secured using self-adhesive Dacron, which was heavily burnt by the sun. Today, special fabrics which are 100% resistant to the sun are used for this.

The burnt self-adhesive Dacron looks weak but the structure of the fabric on the sail has not been compromised – and that was the main concern.

 

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Before the season, we get a lot of foresails with a dirty leech and foot for sewing on the UV fabric – “because it looks ugly.” Frequently these “ugly” parts are suitable only to be cut off, because they almost fall apart in hands. Such is the effect of the sun.

If someone does not like the strip of UV fabric on the sail, they can put on a cover when not sailing.

Anything, as long as somehow the sail is protected from the sun.

This is not fashion, glitz or anything such. This is an obvious necessity.

Currently, most foresails are the furled type, while 10 years ago furlers were in the minority.

And this is the reason for the lack of awareness of danger in case of some sailors.

Taking all this into consideration I can summarise the above text by saying that the basic version of a sail will meet the basic requirements – not all requirements related to their use. Only supplementing the basic version with the additions necessary for the given use profile will extend the life of the sail.

 

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Trampolines

Trampolines are made by us using trampoline net the material espacially made for that purpose. Color of the net can be grey or black. We always make the trampoline according to the clients drawing or the layout of the previously used trampoline.

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