Latest Moth sail developments

Friday, January 25, 2013

Hyde Sails has been right at the forefront of sail development in the International moth class, Technical Director Mike Lennon talks us through the very latest developments.


(Above) On seven battens all with cams, with 215 gram cloth, the weight of the sail has nearly doubled from Hyde’s early design.

With much new blood and focus, in 2013 the UK-based moth fleet looks set to reach higher levels numerically and in standard. It’s three years now since the last Brit won the worlds but with the likes of Steve Morrison, Paul Goodison and Rob Greenhalgh joining the fleet and with many other top ranked newcomers, it suddenly looks very hard to win a race domestically.

Hyde Sails Technical Director Mike Lennon is hoping a brand-new boat from Lymington builder Simon Magiure and a vigorous sail development program will help turnaround a dip in form over the last year.

Hyde has been very much immersed in the moth class, with Lennon recently stepping down as UK class president but taking on the International VP position. This commitment is also shown in Hyde’s moth R&D program. We persuaded Mike to give us an insight into what is currently going on at Hyde for the moth fleet.

Light weight versus responsiveness

“With sophisticated software alongside hours of on the water testing, Hyde is producing some interesting new avenues of development. In the early days we obsessed a little too much about the finished weight of the sail. Using only five battens with the lower four on cams - coupled with 140 gram Technora cloth, meant our sail was by far the lightest available.

“At the other extreme, in an effort to produce a deeper sail with more automatic gust response, which became increasingly important as masts stiffened, we looked to good old woven Dacron. Most of our competitors still use Dacron in the form of film with light Dacron X fibre. However, the woven style we use has slightly less stretch with better recovery.

“The stretch and recovery, plus the ability to manipulate the bias via downhaul gave us a beautiful looking sail, which is smooth and easily manipulated. However, now on seven battens all with cams, with 215 gram cloth, the finished weight of the sail has nearly doubled (see picture 1).”

The best of both worlds

“So the next phase of development is to try and combine the responsive nature of this sail with the weight of our early sails. To do this we are looking to the new Hyde Membrane System. HYDEms allows us to design the fibre layout and select the fibre itself to suit the design and stretch criteria we need.

“Our previous membrane attempts used a fibre that proved too heavy - increasing the weight and reducing the number of fibre passes available to us. This makes the membrane structure very open and uneven. However, Hyde’s new small fibre system has allowed for more fibre passes with less overall fibre weight.

“Picture 2 shows a dense looking matrix with a small fibre denier. Picture 3 shows cured sail membrane waiting for shaping – post-cure shaping ensures accurate shape production. With some seams with only 0.7mm of shape, any other system is hopeless.”


(Above) Picture 2: a dense looking matrix with a small fibre denier. 

Above) Picture 3: cured sail membrane waiting for shaping.

Leaving no stone unturned

Mike explains that the other area of weight reduction will be centred around the battens: “With seven battens a few grams from each will add up. But there is a minimum stiffness required to ensure the sail is the correct shape. Hyde’s new batten finishing machine ensures we can produce very light battens at the correct stiffness.

“Leaving no stone unturned we are also looking at the new 140 gram balanced Technora cloth by Contender as well as some very interesting 175 gram hard coated woven Polykote. The cloth’s pre stretched Fill yarns make it behave like a heavier cloth.”

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(Above) Picture 4 shows the sail design software graphical display with each line representing one pass of 14 small Dtex fibres.

moths in 2013

There is a comprehensive fixture list for the moth class with regular UK Grand Prix events. The UK Inland Championship is due to take place at Bala on May 25-27, while the UK National Championship runs from June 27-30 at Castle Cove. The European Championship is in Sicily from April 28-May 4 and the World Championship is due to take place in Hawaii on October 12-19.

Hyde Sails Ltd, Harbour Building Office A, Hamble Point Marina, Hamble, Southampton SO31 4NB

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