Carbon fiber is the highest performance yarn used in sailmaking. As seen below, carbon yarns are at the top of the chart in three out of four ways to measure their performance. Carbon fiber’s resistance to stretch is three times greater that S-Glass yarns, which are, in tern, three times more stretch resistant than polyester yarns.
Even though the individual tapes in an X-Drive sail are very narrow, their almost complete coverage of the sail leads to a smooth flying shape. UK Sailmakers’ tape laying machine puts down up to 11 tapes at a time in a 20 cm wide path (8 inches wide), which means there are hundreds of tapes on the sail. Since each tape has 4000 carbon filaments there are up to 44,000 filaments of carbon are laid at time, giving the sail great strength along with the ability to keep its designed shape. This means UK Sailmakers can use lighter and less expensive laminates than would be used in Tape-Drive sails, and that savings is passed on.
All the carbon yarns used in X-Drive tapes are dry (not coated in glue) which keeps them from becoming brittle. Keeping the carbon yarns dry improves their flexibility.