The last time we saw blue sails, they were made by Hood and they didn’t quite work out so well. This isn’t that, though, and if it isn’t just PR fluff, we might finally have an answer to our so-called ‘eco-friendly’ sport’s dirtiest little secret: Thousands of pounds of nasty chemicals, in the form of film sails, thrown in the trash every year. If the hype around UK’s new "Titanium Blue" sails is accurate, might we even expect some progressive PHRF boards to give you a little handicap boost in the name of mother Earth? Saving time while saving the Earth? We likey.
UK Sailmakers is proud to announce the world’s first environmentally ethical racing sails. This
new sail manufacturing process reflects a concern with the long-term environmental impact of
current high-performance membrane sails that laminate grids of yarns between layers of
petroleum-based Mylar films. While these high-tech racing sails deliver peak performance for a
number of seasons, eventually their competitive lifespan comes to an abrupt end. Those indestructible, petroleum-based sails end up filling boat yard dumpsters, landfills or
Alain Janet, head of UK Sailmaker’s loft in southern France, has been working on UK’s proprietary
membrane sail manufacturing technology for nearly a decade. Having developed high-end
MartiX Titanium®, a continuous-yarn membrane-sail manufacturing process, Janet turned his focus to creating environmentally ethical sails. Thanks to those efforts, UK Sailmakers is now
developing Titanium Blue® high-performance racing sails – being branded as Blue because of
the sky blue color of the sails’ skin material.
Using organically-derived, cellulous-based films, in place of petroleum-based Mylar makes
these sails recyclable. When the sail’s competitive usefulness is over, MatriX Blue sails can be
treated with a substance that dissolves the membrane allowing the recapture of the reinforcing
yarns originally built into the sail. Sails made with cellulous-based films will have the same
durability as petroleum-based Mylar films yet will be bio-degradable.
“Our industry has been a serious contributor to the clogging of landfills with the indestructible
polymer-based used sails,” said Janet. “Today, over 20,000 sails of non-renewable sail skin
materials are manufactured each year, which translates to over 1 million square meters of eco-
unfriendly sails. If you turned that into a narrow ribbon, it could circle the Earth several times.”