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Artikel: Hvordan udvikles sejl?


Hvordan udvikles sejl?

Denne artikel er skrevet af danske Dennis Boisen fra Point-7. En god artikel der fortæller hvordan nye sejl bliver til, og hvor meget man egentlig skal igennem, før man har de produktionssejl, som vi køber. Nederst på siden kan I se et lille galleri.

The development of a windsurf sail

It’s often seen that when a new sail is being presented in magazines or on websites, that its only graphical drawings and that the real sail still doesn’t exist.
From seeing the illustration only; people will start commenting on the sails performance and development. Same as when unrolling a new sail on the beach, everyone gathers around to observe and give their 5 cents worth; a lot of comments will be made which are all very interesting and imaginative, but the only thing that can essentially be commented on is the printed sizes on the tack and the sail structure. Not until the sail finally hits the water is it possible to understand how it really performs.
When a brand new sail is being unrolled in a shop and presented to potential client; that sail has already gone through a long and hard development process to become a final product.
In this article we will follow the P7squad in their process of sail development
Sail development is a continuous process which never ends.
The only recurring stumbling block there is; is when the sails need to be ready for production.
Once the sails have entered production, the test team is already back on the water working on what will become the sails for the year after. Virtually meaning that when the new sails are available in the shops the ones for the year after are almost finished being developed.
The main test and development period for race sails is in the late summer and autumn months.
The sail maker has to wait until he starts receiving feedback from the riders, who’s been racing over the season, because its only when the sail has been on the race course that its clear what needs to be improved and developed on for the following season. From then on the deadline to work with is in the middle of December when the registration for the PWA is at hand. When the race sails are finished in their development, the test team moves onto the freeride and freerace sail. This process will then be finishing towards May. Having development breaks between the different sail lines is very useful. This allows the team to lose the feeling of a specific sail line. So when they get back to work they can easier feel what is to be changed and what not to be changed. Wave sails are mainly being tested during winter which is also the windiest period of the year in Europe and thru until April.
Rarely is the test team fully content with the sails when they have to send them into production, there’s always something new that can be tested or improved upon. It’s a good motivation which gives the windsurfing industry a non-stop research and development process; always guaranteeing that there will be new and innovative products released every year.
Starting with the next-year development
When starting with the development for the coming season, the first step is to sit down with the sales and marketing director, sail designer, testers, riders and all the comments received from the clients. Having a real brainstorm finding out how to proceed with, if a new sail line is needed, what to change on existing sail lines, and what not to change or what could be missing in a line. Therefore the highlights are mainly on whether to make extra sizes, where to change the performance of the sails, boom length, materials, colours, tensions, battens…. This being a very important phase for the sail designer to be a part of as it allows for him to get a better understanding of the inclination and needs of his team and the general public, before he starts putting his hands on his software and start with the initial modifications.
When adding a new sail line, the choosing of a name can be a very difficult picking. Normally it’s not until the sail is finally seen on the water that the ultimate name giving is made. Like with the new p7 freeride sail the square; the sails structure and compact design made the sail look very box like on the water and with that in mind the sail was finally named.
First few steps!
For each sail line and every size, the first detail to decide on is which mast length a specific sail will be cut on. That’s why it’s so important having the right mast for your sail to obtain 100% rig efficiency, the sails are being build onto a specific mast which has its own bend curve and hardness.
Once the outline has been developed by the sail designer, the graphic designer starts putting down the new look of the sail; choosing different colour schemes and materials. The choice of the material is extremely important. The materials are being decided upon with the sail designer as small changes in stiffness or flexibility from a material makes a big difference in the sail performance and dynamics. They must to be light, durable, UV resistant, and beautiful and all be used in the right sections of the sail to secure structural strength and integrity. It’s imperative that the sail maker keeps track of the graphic scheme throughout the development process so he can advise the graphic designer on what is possible with the use of materials and structure to make sure the durability of the sail doesn’t get affected by the graphic layout. The graphics needs to be adapted to each sail size, as it is not only to rescale the design, but it must be modified it to fit the sails fixed points such as boom opening and clew which changes with each sail size. This is why the test team needs to test each size in its range and the sail designer then change the sail characteristic according to the intensity of wind it will be used in.
Once the sail designs have been made on the computer, the files are sent of to production where the sails will then get cut out on plotters which secures millimetre accuracy in each sail. Some brands are cutting their prototypes by hand in their own development centre, but others like P7 are getting theirs cut by the same company which will later also be making the final production sails. Having the prototypes made in the production facility offers a great advantage as it’s possible from the very first sail to see what the final production sail will look like as it is being produced in the same manner as the later sails will be, thus its possible to see if there is any need for extra reinforcements or alternations before the sails will enter fial production.
Once the files are sent to the production companies in either China or Sri-Lanka, it will take up to 2 weeks before the prototypes are received in Italy and the testing can then finally begin. If a sail designer would cut a sail himself, it would take at least 3-5 days per size and when having over 80 unique sail to develop and test, one can only start to imagine the time needed… During the 2 week period that the production company needs, it’s possible to receive over 30 finished prototypes.
Before all this begin, the management needs to organise the materials to be used for the production sails. It presents a lot of work as the exclusive materials and specific colours all needs to be ordered several months in advance to make sure everything will arrive in time and in the right volumes. It is not always easy to get this process to fit into a specific time schedule; many of the materials used in P7 sails are very specialized in their colours and characteristics, the materials are not stock products and will need specially produced in either Japan or in the US where most sail materials are being produced.
A Coloured monofilm can be up to 5 times more expensive than a normal transparent monofilm, however using more exotic materials allows to have a better quality in the final products. The materials used in Point-7 sails are either completely UV resistant or made using UV inhibitors in the transparent coloured films. This adds to the sails lifespan and finally the sails overall quality.
The arrival of the prototypes
Every brand has their trade mark performance and sail feeling. So once the proto sails arrive, the testers need to get on the water and remember to get those trademarks fit into each line. In the case of Point-7; they aim towards having powerful sails which can release a lot of power when the wind picks up. This offers a great wind range to the sails and therefore its also not needed with so many sails in a quiver. To achieve these characteristics the sails needs to be very balanced, light while sailing and slightly soft for extra comfort. In each sail line different characteristics are thereafter implemented so that each line will fit onto to the target of what the client is looking for in that sail typology
The P7 team are mainly always lucky for when the sails the right wind conditions are there for getting right on the water and testing them. As the boxes are opened with the new sails inside the excitement is big! Everyone is quiet as if it would be a kid opening a gift on Christmas. It’s easy to see that the team is excited about seeing the first sails being unrolled and to see the result of a lot of team work put together. The graphic designer tries to pick up on what could look better whilst the sail designer can’t wait to see the sails rigged…. The Point-7 team is quite unique as everyone from accounting to sales are actively surfing and also taking part in the testing of the sails!! On the first test day there is a bit of a panic happening as everyone feels that all the sails needs to get on the water. It’s a big rush which needs to be cooled down!
After unpacking the sails, the first step is to rig each size to check if everything is done as projected. The mast, boom lengths are measured and the graphic designer takes pictures to compare against his software.
Testing on water.
Point-7 work from two sail lofts which are both less than a 100metres from the water and wind. One on is on Lake Garda used for summer development and the second being on the island of Sardinia.
When testing sails and boards are brought to the beach where each testing day is a long day in a wetsuit. New sails are being tested against the old sails. That is the rule that is being followed and already after the first 200metre its clear at what level the new sails are. After few runs on the new material, new trims are tested till the correct one is found. Once this is done, the testers switch sails and repeat the comparison. The masts are switched between the sails to make sure that all outside factors, which could give differences, are minimized. While testing the testers do not share their opinions, but are writing all down on paper, in this way the opinions on the equipment are not being influenced. Also the sail designer Peter Munzlinger gets on the water and testes the sails personally. It’s a big advantage for the testers and the final product that Peter himself can get out among the testers and get his own opinion on the work which is to be done. In the end everyone speaks the same language in terms of which modifications to make on the sails.
Everything tested gets written down; visual changes, positive as well as negative comments and all possible feedback get noted down. More often than not when comparing the feedback of each tester, they all come to the same conclusion from where Peter writes down what needs to be modified whereafter the sails are immediately washed out from saltwater and sand. As a day of testing comes to an end and over 20 rigs have been rigged in a day including 10 hours in a wetsuit, Peter starts modifying the sails in the loft; this can sometimes take him the better part of the evening and night as well, especially if the forecast for the next day is good. On Garda it’s perfect for testing, particularly the freeride sails as from 6am to 10 am its possible to test with the thermal north wind where after there is a break as the wind will turn into south wind. This gives Peter 2-3 hours to go back to the loft and make further changes to the sails before getting back on the water again in the afternoon. It must be said that this is a very hard time for Peter who does nothing but surf, modify the sails and sometimes sleep, during this intense testing period.
Once all the sails are modified to work as wanted they then enter a second phase of testing. They start to be tested out of their wind range and board target. The cambered sails are brought into big waves where they get washed, wave sails on flat water to feel them on freeride boards and so on… The sails from the different lines are tested against each other to better understand the differences. The sails get tested on with different masts and mast with different carbon contents. It’s a very important part of the process as this will help the team towards better advising the clients with their best sail choice through the customer care service.
So if a client is interested in a sail size or a specific model and according to the explanation on where he/ she is sailing, the board being used, weight, and other information available it’s possible to give the best advise possible. This service being very appreciated by on-line clients
As a lot of changes are made to the initial prototypes until when the sails are actually is finished, the sail designer needs make new files for each single sail before having a final prototype made. Each file must have all the modifications implemented so that the sails are perfect replicas of the sails that have been developed on. This procedure is done to all the sizes as a kind of double checking before the sails enter the final production. Once the second prototype sails arrive; final mast length and boom measurements are taken on the sails and they are checked once again for their quality and structure to make sure everything is perfect before entering production.
While all this work is being done on the sails, also the mast producer tries to implement new improvements to the masts which would fit the request of the testers; this is all part of guaranteeing better performance to the integrated rig.
2-3 times a year it is necessary to travel to the sail manufacturer. This is done by Peter; who goes to check that there are no problems during the production and that the quality is up to par. Another reason is also to develop on production methods and improvements on certain new details which can be appreciated by the final user. Once the production is finished, the sail designer and the team are already working on new prototypes..
Some sail testing can take over a year as sails are being shipped out to different team riders where they will then be tested under very different conditions and different windsurfing styles. This gives a good chance for the product to express itself in every possible way, further it’s a chance to hammer the new sails to check for durability and correct any weak points that might occur thru extended use.
With Point-7, if a sail or product has not been tested and approved by the squad, it does not enter production. This is guaranteeing that when you try out one of their sails, you can feel sure that you have a thoroughly tested piece of kit in your hands, that performs as intended and which won’t break apart when being pushed to the limit.
For more information on point-7 and their products, please check out their website www.point-7.com or follow the team on www.p7squad.com

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