Just curious if your new sail was Laser standard issue from Sri Lanka or the upgraded version from the UK (I think). You can feel the difference in the material.
I had to smile. Lasers are of course strict one-design boats so an official Laser sail is an official Laser sail. Right? Well, maybe not. In the search for that elusive edge over the competition who are all sailing (almost) identical boats, Laser sailors will pursue almost any (legal) stratagem. Their quest is, to some extent, provoked by the fact that hulls, spars and sails are manufactured at different factories in different parts of the world so it's natural to assume that minor differences in manufacturing methods or sourcing of materials might mean there are differences in performance. Are European spars stiffer? Are Australian hulls lighter? Maybe it's worth finding out. Or maybe you just need to have faith.
The Laser class try very hard to maintain consistency of equipment between different manufacturers. Apparently there's a very detailed comprehensive (but secret) builder's manual that defines exactly what materials and methods to use for every component of the Laser. And I understand that the class has a technical manager who visits and inspects the factories and sail manufacturers to make sure that everything is being done to spec.
So why does Mr McNab think that there is such a thing as an "upgraded" sail from the UK? Here's the scoop...
Laser sails are made by North Sails (for the North American and Australian markets) and Hyde Sails (for Europe). You can buy a Hyde sail in the USA but it is more expensive than the North sail. But is it better?
This issue has been debated ad infinitum on the Laser forum and the general consensus seems to be that unless you are in the Ben Ainslie/ Robert Scheidt stratosphere the difference in performance (if any) between North and Hyde sails is so minuscule as to be irrelevant to the average weekend warrior.
And before the comments develop into a rant about outsourcing and third-world manufacturing standards and slave labor, let me just point out that both North and Hyde have their Laser sails made in Asia, in Sri Lanka and the Philippines respectively (I think).
So is MrMcab right in saying that you can "feel the difference in the material" between the Hyde and North Laser sails? I dunno. Never had the two side by side. But it did seem to me that the new North sail that I just acquired does not feel as stiff as the last one I bought. No idea whether this matters. I'm not going to worry about it. I'm just going to go sailing and concentrate on hiking hard, sailing flat and trying to be first to the next shift.
See you on the water.