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weak sails for racing

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Make sailboat sails weaker but sectioned off with stronger strips of material. This will save weight at the risk of breaking a section or two before the race ends.
Voice, Oct 03 2011

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       I dunno - how much weight would you save?   

       Also, my limited understanding of modern sails is that they are very efficient aerofoils - losing a panel would probably lower their performance disproportionally.
MaxwellBuchanan, Oct 03 2011
  

       So, if I'm reading [into] this correctly, you want sails made out of Mylar and reinforced with strips of Kevlar? That's an outstanding idea! I wonder why it isn't done already.
DIYMatt, Oct 03 2011
  

       By Jove, You've got it. I do believe you've got it! Skipper Paul Cayard was secretly testing this idea with spinnakers and jennikers a few America's cup races ago, ending up with pennants flying from the masthead, He had not yet arrived at the reinforced diddy bits but you can rest assured he would have...eventually. Interestingly this led to the making of the epic Team America film named in honour of his yacht, Team America and, if you believe this, you will believe anything. All stand please, for the President of the United States... Music.
Ah Supp, Oct 03 2011
  

       Tricky... I'm not as well-versed in 'space-age materials' as I am in more conventional materials, but one of the fundamentals of metal fabrication is that if you make a structure stronger at one point, you make it weaker somewhere else. The idea is to balance the structural features so that various forces (gravity, creep, strain, etc.) acting on the structure do so as evenly as possible.
Alterother, Oct 03 2011
  

       So a pressure valve for sails. That's a tearific idea in that the failure is graceful and may save the placing.
wjt, Oct 04 2011
  

       //if you make a structure stronger at one point, you make it weaker somewhere else. The idea is to balance the structural features so that various forces (gravity, creep, strain, etc.) acting on the structure do so as evenly as possible//   

       I guess you are referring to stress points. But a truss is a counter example.
Ling, Oct 04 2011
  

       A truss is an excellent example of stress-point elimination. I was trying to speak in general terms, since sail design is not my forté, but it seems to me that "making sails weaker but sectioned with stronger strips" will only create stress points along the edges of the 'stronger strips'. If a flat metal structure is reinforced with thick bands and then subjected to multiple-axis strain, the welds along the reinforment bands will split. Such a structure (again, made out of metal, which I know something about, rather than, er, sail material, which I know little about) would fare much better if reinforced with something like angle iron or a perpendicular support (known to fabricators as a 'stringer') rather than a flat band. The dynamics of a flexible structure like a sail may be quite different, but I figured some of the fundamental properties might apply to both.
Alterother, Oct 04 2011
  

       Interestingly, yachts use thin, flexible, slats of wood made from Canadian spruce, which are threaded into pockets sewn across the main sail to perform this task.
Ah Supp, Oct 05 2011
  

       A movable bolster (or in the lexicon of metal fabricators, a 'floating' reinforcement) is an entirely different story; since the supported structure can shift under the stringer, it gains support without the weak points created by attachment.
Alterother, Oct 05 2011
  

       Quite so. ....Er.....What?
Ah Supp, Oct 07 2011
  

       Because it is not attached, the movable bolster supports the structure without constraining it to the shape of the reinforcing element.
Alterother, Oct 07 2011
  

       Ah. That's clearer.
Ah Supp, Oct 07 2011
  
      
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