Book Review: The Art and Science of Sails, Revised Edition

Author:
Publish date:

When it first came out twenty-six years ago The Art and Science of Sails immediately established itself as the preeminent text on how sails are made and work, covering the length and breadth of modern-day sailmaking—including the latest on sail design and engineering, as well as how to choose the best sails for your own boat.

08-sails-book-cover

Since that time, of course, a lot has happened—who would have guessed back then that the America’s Cup would someday be raced aboard flying boats with solid sails? So authors Tom Whidden (whose day job is working as the president of North Sails’ technology group) and Michael Levitt decided that an update was in order.

While parts of the book are quite technical, most of it is aimed at the weekend warrior who has a basic understanding of his sails, but needs to know more. (A modern sail is, after all, a complex bit of engineering, as are the processes used to build it.) As a reader, you will not only learn all of this, but perhaps more importantly, you will develop a better grasp of sail trim in the abstract, through a fuller understanding of terms like chord depth and twist, and how it all relates to your boat and the type of sailing you do. Sails are a big investment, not only in terms of money but also time if you want to make them work right. With that in mind, this book is a must-read for anyone who wants to make the most of their sailing.—Brian Hancock

Tom Whidden and Michael Levitt

North Sails Group, 2016 — 182 pp., $26.63

February 2017

Related

albintoilet

Gear: Albin Pump Marine Toilet

Head Start Is there room for a new marine toilet? Albin Pump Marine thinks so, having just introduced its line of Swedish-built heads—ranging from compact to full-size models—to the American market. The toilets feature vitreous porcelain bowls and either wooden or thermoplastic ...read more

07n_45R2699

Multihull Sailor: Classic Cats

If you’re looking for a decent sub-40ft cruising cat, you have few choices when it comes to new-boat offerings. It is a well-known fact that the multihull market has taken off in a way very few could have predicted. Despite Hurricane Irma’s recent destruction of a large part of ...read more

TOTW_PromoSite

SAIL's Tip of the Week

Presented by Vetus-Maxwell. Got a tip? Send it to sailmail@sailmagazine.com Thanks a bunch  This scene is very calm and seamanlike. No frantic rope throwing or shouting. As he passes the line to the gent on the dock, the crew on the boat says, quietly and clearly, “Would you ...read more

mcarthy-and-mouse

Experience: McCarthy and the Mouse

Sitting at the helm in a light breeze, my arms crusted with a fine rime of salt, my skin so dry I’d lost my fingerprints, I heard a clatter and a curse from below. There were only three of us a thousand miles from shore and only one on watch at a time. Usually, the off watch lay ...read more

2018-giftGuide

2018 Holiday Gift Guide

Brass Yacht Lamp Does someone on your gift list spend the whole winter missing the warm days on the water? Let them bring a little bit of nautical atmosphere home with this new lamp from Weems & Plath. The glass enclosure means the flame cannot be blown out even by ...read more

image001

Opinion: On Not Giving Up Sailing

E.B. White was 64 when he wrote his now-famous essay “The Sea and the Wind That Blows,” which begins as a romantic paean to sailing and then drifts, as if spun around by a pessimistic eddy of thought, into a reflection on selling his boat. Does an aging sailor quit while he’s ...read more

1812-JeanneaueNewsVideo

Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 410

Designed by Marc Lombard, the Sun Odyssey 410 shares much in common with her older siblings including of course, the walk-around deck. Other features that set the 410 apart from other models being introduced this year include the 410’s “negative bow” shape allowing for a longer ...read more