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Boats like Perseus^3 are huge, the loads that are involved are pretty exceptional. We go from a fabric that weighs 32 grams per square meter up to something that weighs 150 grams for the Superkote 350 in this kite. As the weight goes up, the strength goes up and that’s what you need in a sail this size.
The fiber selection comes first – it’s high-tenacity Nylon. Second, constructions, ie. how many yarns we weave in each direction. Once the fabric is woven, the finishing comes in – that’s the real trick. You have to dye the product first, then finish it. We finish it with a coating process that gives it zero porosity and further stabilizes it. A well-proven chemical process that makes fabrics that withstand the kind of loads you see on these giant boats. Producing a consistent finish throughout is key to ensure the sail’s uniform performance. On these big kites, the fabric is specifically engineered so that there is a little bit of elasticity built into it. That way, big shock loads don’t run back through the rigging and the boat itself – the kite absorbs a little bit of it.
Surprisingly though, it’s the sail’s custom grey color that caused the most headache. The colouring took us the longest because you can’t take that amount of material and dye it all at the same time.
The machines just aren’t that big. You have to pay a lot of attention to the dye formulation and to the timing… and when you look at the kite, it’s pretty damn close! That was also very good on the sailmaker’s part when assembling the sail.
Fun facts / Stats:
This kite has a surface area of 2.604 sqm, which is an astonishing area equal to the size of 10(!) tennis courts
The total weight is 550 kg
It took 5 weeks of weaving, 30 hours of colouring, 8 weeks of finishing.
The kite contains 40.516 km of thread, enough to go around the world with one single yarn.
All together it took 35 people for the production (not even talking about the sailmakers) to make 48 rolls x 100 m of Contender Sailcloth's finest Cool Grey Superkote 250/350 (click here for more information), woven from high tenacity 6.6 Nylon.
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