I think i should get myself some racing sails for the summer!

Hello all and may I say what an excellent forum this is. First of all I’m a new user/builder/sailor here and while I have basic knowledge of lift and drag I am by no means a sailor so please share your knowledge with me gently

I would like some advice on sails. At the moment I have sails constructed from lightweight plastic shopping bags and would like to make myself a proper set of racing sails. What I would like to know is, what is the best sail material to use? I am a beginner and I don’t want to spend a fortune. Also are panelled sails totally out of the question with a footy or is the work/reward not worth the effort.

Thanks for your time and hopefully I will meet up with a few of you this summer for a race or two

Hey Jack,
I wouldn’t say paneled sails are out (I am going to be trying my hand and building some in the near future) but they are much more involved to build. (I know this from previous attempts :wink: ) I use .75oz spinnaker cloth. Its a very tight - its really almost waterproof - dacron weave that seems to work really very well. Not to mention that it is a classic looking white, and it really looks sharp on the water. You can get the stuff from a kite store I think for a pretty reasonable price… http://www.intothewind.com/shop/Repair_and_Kitemaking/Fabric/3-4-oz._Nylon
that might be a thought, its not quite what I use, but it should work. If you can find something lighter, by all means do! I think I heard about someone on here using very fine mylar film… that might work, I don’t know how that turned out. The nylon is pretty generic cloth, most of the “high-tech” sail cloth you see kicking around on Footys is material that either was sitting in someone’s basement from a different life, or that someone (as in my case) begged off of a friend in the industry. All you need is some cloth that you can cut a sail shape out of, so to be perfectly honest, I would track down what looks best to you, (remembering that light is always good – until its too light) and start experimenting. Also, a google search on ".5 oz spinnaker cloth yields a bunch of hits that might be helpful. My first attempts at sails barely got the boat around the pond, but I learned a lot from them – thats the great part of the Footy class, you can try things, and if they don’t work, scrap them, move on, and try something new very quickly without any real fear of the monetary toll.

If you want to really learn more about the science of building sails, i would look around for a book entitled “The Art and Science of Sails” by Tom Whidden. Its a great book that will tell you virtually everything there is to know about sails, sailcloth, sail lofting/making, etc. It is of course, all on a full-scale size, but things can be pretty easily scaled back.

I hope that was of some help… ask back for anything, as you have probably learned there are a plethora of us footyers on here, just salivating for an opportunity to pontificate about one thing or another!


I noticed that your link to Into The Wind Kites describes the material as both 0.75 oz and 42 grams per sq mtr.

The 42 grams per sq mtr equates to about 1.24 oz per sq yd - so what does the 0.75 oz refer to :confused:



.75oz is a nominal identification, sorta like there are no 2by4s that are actually “2X4”. Also, a sailmakers yard is bigger than a “normal” yard, so that is a factor, but mostly its one of those things where .75oz cloth has always weighed 1.12oz per yard, but has always been called .75.

Hi Keith, like 420sailor I use 0.75 coated ripstop, Challenge Sailcloth in my case. I have used the 0.5 but I find that the heavier material gives a nicer shape even in light winds. Look for ‘coated’ ripstop because you can cut it with a sharp knife or scissors without a hint of fraying. ‘uncoated’ ripstop requires hot blade cutting to seal the edges. Unfortunately the sellers don’t always say if it is coated or not but cheap kites are usually uncoated.

I must admit I use flat cut sails for simplicity. A little tuning goes a long way despite the lack of built in camber.


So Graham, you just cut them flat, you don’t use luff curve or anything, just a 2d shape? How do you feel that flat sails perform compared to shaped sails on this small scale?

So far I am very happy with them Barrett. I have not yet come up against cambered sails in competition (that I am aware of) so I don’t have a direct comparison. I am sure they should be better but in our size I don’t know by how much.

Thanks for your replies.

so far i have found this http://kitesrus.co.uk/acatalog/Spinnaker_Repair_Tapes.html

It states that the material is 75grams per Sq/M which might be a bit heavy so i’ll keep looking. If Any one knows of a reputable UK suplier i would be very grateful for a link.