Sail Cloth Explained

The two major factors which affect the performance of a sail are the designed shape and the material choice. Both have to be right to produce a world class sail. Hyde has worked closely with the major cloth manufacturers for many years. Hyde has often initiated development of materials in order to meet the requirements of its customers. There are two main categories of material for fore and aft sails, woven polyester and laminates.


Woven polyester has a longer useful life but is not as stable as a laminate. Woven polyester sails tend to be heavier than the equivalent sail made from a laminate. A woven polyester sail will last up to ten years although its shape and performance will deteriorate steadily over that time.

Laminates are more stable and offer better performance but do tend to deteriorate as they near the end of their useful life. UV attack and flexing will cause delamination and cracking; a laminate cruising sail will typically last five or six seasons depending on how often it is used.


Woven polyester

Performance depends on the following factors:

  • The tightness of the weave.
  • The quality of the yarn, in particular its tenacity and the extent to which it shrinks when subjected to heat and pressure during the finishing process.
  • The quality and properties of the resins and coatings used in the finishing process

All three of these criteria are cost sensitive. A close weave occupies a loom for a longer period per metre than a loose weave, the better the yarn the higher the cost; the better the resins and coatings the more expensive they are.


Designed for a wide range of applicationsare laminates are a combination of film, fibres, scrim and woven taffetas.

The common components of almost all the laminates are...

  • Two layers of polyester film which form the outer elements of the laminate.
  • The fibres used range from polyester to high modulus carbon and Dyneema®. Pentex and Aramids, such as Kevlar®, are also often used.
  • Generally cruising laminates have one or two layers of taffeta (Woven polyester) to improve durability and handling.
  • The high performance laminates used for racing sails, rarely include taffeta due to the weight.


Challenge Performance Cruise

A very extensive range with a variety of constructions at each weight. A tall narrow (high aspect) sail requires a fabric with strong fill yarns, a low aspect sail requires a more balanced construction in which the fill yarns and warp yarns offer equal resistance to stretch. This stabilises the bias i.e. the stretch at 45 degrees to the warp and fill, and this is essential for overlapping headsails and low aspect mainsails.

Challenge High Modulus

As the name implies this is a high performance cloth woven from the best polyester yarns currently available - the higher the modulus the lower the stretch of the yarn. Challenge has developed an impressive range of constructions to meet the demands of every sail plan. High Modulus is particularly suited to boats under 35’.

Dimension-Polyant MT

MT is the Dimension-Polyant equivalent to Challenge High Modulus with some interesting constructions which complement the HM range. Also chosen for boats under 35’.

Challenge Marblehead

This is the ultimate woven polyester cloth for cross cut sails. Exceptionally tight constructions and the use of the lowest stretch yarn produces material of great stability and durability. Available in high and low aspect constructions, Hyde use Marblehead for woven polyester sails for boats above 35’.

Challenge Crimpless Warp

Crimpless Warp (CW) is a revolution in sail cloth. woven polyester has always had crimp in the warp yarns which are bent by the fill yarns during weaving. The crimp reduces as the cloth ages; which in radial sails leads to flapping leeches and increased fullness. In CW the fill yarns are crimped over the warp which remains straight. This makes a fabric comparable to polyester laminates in stretch and weight with woven polyester durability. This material is the best available for radial woven polyester sails.

Dimension-Polyant DC Laminate

This is a highly durable laminate using polyester yarns protected by light woven taffetas. This combination of elements in the laminate results in a low stretch and therefore high performance material at a price close to the best woven polyester.

Dimension-Polyant DYS®

DYS® is the ultimate laminate for radial cruising sails. It consists of very low stretch Dyneema® yarns laminated between thin polyester protective taffetas. Dyneema® has amazing flex life and good UV resistance. It also has lower stretch than Aramids, such as Kevlar®.

Dimension-Polyant X-Tech

The load bearing yarns in DP X-Tech are Aramids with a proportion of the yarns running off the axis of the material. X-Tech makes strong, light sails and is designed for radial construction which still gives the best performance when coupled with the correct choice of material. X-Tech is all made from the same Aramid yarn thus reducing shrinkage differentials which increases the life of the sails.

Dimension-Polyant GPL

This out and out racing laminate has a high carbon content with a base scrim of Technora®. Technora® has the best UV and flex properties of any Aramid. Designed for radial construction GPL makes the lightest and most stable panelled racing sails.


This is Hyde’s custom membrane laminate - we design the sail and the cloth for each yacht individually. The fibre lay out for each sail is designed specifically to suit the needs of the customer’s sailing and the loads imposed by the rig and yacht type. The yarns can be curved to follow pre-determined load paths and dissimilar yarns used to enhance the performance and life. This is the ultimate sail material.

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