Please select your home edition
J Composites 2020 - LEADERBOARD

Sabre class publishes initial findings in new sail evaluation process

by Harry Fisher 6 Apr 2020 01:49 PDT
The recent Victorian Sabre States saw a fleet of 69 boats © Alex McKinnon

The Sabre class is re-evaluating its current sail plan to ensure the timeless class continues to withstand the test of time as one of Australia's most iconic single-handed dinghies.

After publishing its initial findings on the evaluation, the Sabre Sailing Association of Australia (SSAA) will now oversee the build of prototype sails for further testing to determine whether a change should be recommended.

The process of developing a new sail for the class began last year and aims to ensure the product is efficient, modern and durable, while also being appealing to new sailors - with the option of retaining the current sail plan also on the table.

It has been something the class has looked at carefully, including in-depth discussions with sailmakers and sailors, and the formation of a three-person Sail Evaluation Team (SET).

While the exact design, look and feel of new prototype sails are still to be finalised, SSAA said the overall goal of the process was to ensure a sustainable and appealing product going forward, while maintaining the core values of the Sabre class, which is well-known for its diverse and inclusive culture.

The process was hastened by the recent introduction of the alternative Shark sail in Western Australia, a square-top mainsail that fits the Sabre hull and rig, which has sparked significant discussion in the class.

In an email distributed to Sabre members earlier this year, the SSAA committee said sailing trials began in October 2019 in South Australia and Victoria, concentrating on evaluating the current Sabre sail against the Shark sail.

The email described the class as being "the largest non-Olympic single handed class in Australia" and one that focused on inclusion, fellowship and friendship - values the class crucially wanted to retain while moving through this process.

"Although the Sabre hull and rigging has been refined with the advent of new materials and experience, the sail has remained basically the same outline, size and brand identification," it reads.

"Whatever the outcome, we do not intend to materially disadvantage our current Sabre sailors."

The SET determined if a new design to the Sabre sail was to be undertaken, it should:

  • Create a more efficient sail, catering for the same range of sailor attributes.
  • Enable a Sabre to perform well with current crew attributes (weight/strength/age) in both flat water and Port Phillip Bay/St Vincent Gulf conditions.
  • Promote a more modern appearance and reflect the same Sabre style after considerable feedback regarding the striking appearance of Sabre fleets.
  • Be durable and no more expensive than the current sail.
  • Be produced with varying fullness and shapes to suit different sailing conditions, crew weights and experience, as is the case with the current Sabre sail.
  • Provide for a smaller sail size if required.
  • Have a phase in period that minimises any disadvantage to occasional sailors.

After the first round of sailing trials, the SET determined some initial findings when comparing the Sabre and Shark sails.

"Based on recent comparative sailing trials between these sails in differing wind, wave and crew weight conditions on Port Phillip Bay, we see the Shark sail being effective up to about 15 knots both up and down wind," it reads.

"It provides a more lively performance and feel including an enhanced ability to catch and retain waves on reaches and runs."

But the class also found that comparative upwind performance of the Shark sail would fall off as the wind hit above 15 knots, not matching the performance of the Sabre sail, especially for the less experienced sailors.

There were also concerns around the visibility of the more translucent sail being difficult to see in situations requiring rescue, and the full-batten Shark sail making for a more unstable boat when launching and retrieving - something to consider when appealing to less experienced sailors.

Two new prototype sails with differing sail plans will now be developed in dacron material and built by current Sabre sailmakers to allow for further testing.

"This is an exciting project; a great opportunity to bring Sabre sailors together, to gain publicity for the class, to contribute to Sabres' 45 years of history and to ensure that it continues to move with the times," the email reads.

To read the full communication from SSAA, head to

Related Articles

Sabre class sticks with current sail design
Unanimously agreed there is insufficient support for change from current sailors Sabre, the well known Australian one design single handed dinghy, continues to grow its fleet as evidenced by the recent 62 Victorian State Championship entries. Posted on 29 Jun
What's their secret?
We speak to the classes which are seeing a boom in attendance The sailing landscape is changing just as fast as life in general. While some classes have struggled with this, others have embraced it and are seeing huge growth as a result. Posted on 28 Jun
Lindisfarne Sailing Club's 30 Boat Challenge
Commodore John Mills has put out a call to all Tasmanian Sabre owners to join in Lindisfarne Sailing Club Commodore John Mills has put out a call to all Tasmanian Sabre owners to join the 30 Boat Challenge this Sunday at the Lindisfarne Sailing Club. Posted on 26 Mar
Sabre WA State Championship
Down to the final race at Perth Dinghy Sailing Club The State Championship was held at Maylands Yacht Club for two Heats and PDSC held four Heats. A good sized fleet of 25 lined up for the final two Heats Saturday 6th March 2021 at PDSC sailing in Matilda Bay. Posted on 16 Mar
2021 Victorian Sabre State Championships
60 boats on the startline at McCrae Yacht Club With 82 entries ready to race in mid-February, due to the sudden Victorian Covid lockdown, the series was postponed to the 6,7 March 2021 Labour Day long weekend. Posted on 10 Mar
Tamar Marine Blockbuster Weekend Regatta overall
Conditions were perfect for the Race Officer and the sailors The 21st anniversary of the Tamar Marine Blockbuster Weekend saw over 70 off-the-beach boats from five classes race over the two days, with three new Tasmanian champions crowned at the Port Dalrymple Yacht Club in northern Tasmania. Posted on 28 Feb
Tamar Marine Blockbuster Weekend Regatta day 1
The regatta has attracted a record number of entries The 21st anniversary of the Tamar Marine Blockbuster Weekend has got off to a flying start at the Port Dalrymple Yacht Club on the Tamar River in northern Tasmania. Posted on 27 Feb
Vic Sabre State Champs locked down but not out
Entries have now been reopened for rescheduled event on 6-7 March On Friday, 80 Sabres from many of the 30 clubs sailing Sabres in Victoria were starting to assemble for the 46th Sabre State Titles 13,14 February at McCrae Yacht Club. Posted on 22 Feb
Sabre WA State Championship Heats 3 & 4 at PDSC
Racing held in in Matilda Bay On Saturday 6th February with weather unpredictable due to a low off the coast and winds predicted to be around 15-20 knots Easterly, Perth Dinghy Sailing Club held Heats 3 & 4 of the State Championship in Matilda Bay. Posted on 11 Feb
Sabre WA State Championships Heats 1 & 2
21 sailors enjoy the conditions on the Swan River Maylands Yacht Club is located almost 5 kilometres upriver from Perth city, and some 24 kilometres upriver from Fremantle Harbour. Posted on 3 Dec 2020
Rooster 2020 - Impact BA - FOOTERSea Sure 2020 - FOOTERLloyd Stevenson Catalyst 45 728x90px3 BOTTOM