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

Author:
Publish date:
Updated on

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

TOTW_PromoSite

SAIL's Tip of the Week

Presented by Vetus-Maxwell. Got a tip? Send it to sailmail@sailmagazine.com No chafe, safe stay  If you’re leaving the boat unattended for a longish period, there’s a lot to be said for cow-hitching the shorelines, as this sailor did. They’ll never let go, and so long as the ...read more

belize600x

Charter Special: Belize

It would be hard to imagine a more secure spot than the Sunsail base on the outskirts of the beachside community of Placencia, Belize. The entire marina is protected by a robust seawall with a channel scarcely a few boatlengths across. It’s also located far enough up Placencia ...read more

DSC00247

DIY: a Top-to-Bottom Refit

I found my sailing “dream boat” in the spring of 1979 while racing on Lake St. Clair in Michigan. Everyone had heard about the hot new boat in town, and we were anxiously awaiting the appearance of this new Pearson 40. She made it to the starting line just before the race ...read more

01-oysteryachts-regattas-loropiana2016_063

Light-air Sails and How to Handle Them

In the second of a two-part series on light-air sails, Rupert Holmes looks at how today’s furling gear has revolutionized sail handling off the wind. Read part 1 here. It’s easy to look at long-distance racing yachts of 60ft and above with multiple downwind sails set on roller ...read more

HanseCharles

Video Tour: Hanse 348

“It’s a smaller-size Hanse cruiser, but with some big-boat features,” says SAIL’s Cruising Editor, Charles J. Doane. At last fall’s Annapolis Boat Show, Doane had a chance to take a close look at the new Hanse 348. Some of the boat’s highlights include under-deck galleries for ...read more

amalfitown

Charter Destination: Amalfi Coast

Prego! Weeks after returning from our Italian flotilla trip last summer, I was still feeling the relaxed atmosphere of the Amalfi Coast. It’s a Mediterranean paradise, with crystal-clear waters, charming hillside towns and cliffside villages, plenty of delicious food and wine, ...read more

image005

Inside or Outside When Sailing the ICW

Last April, my wife, Marjorie, and I decided to take our Tartan 4100, Meri, north to Maryland from her winter home in Hobe Sound, Florida. This, in turn, meant deciding whether to stay in the “Ditch” for the duration or go offshore part of the way. Although we had both been ...read more

MK1_30542

SailGP: There’s a New Sailing Series in Town

San Francisco was the venue of the biggest come-from-behind victory in the history of the America’s Cup when Oracle Team USA beat Emirates Team New Zealand in 2013, so it seems only fitting that the first American round of Larry Ellison’s new SailGP pro sailing series will be ...read more