Quantum Sails: new Melges 40 sails and how it's made

With a history of world-class sail design, Quantum’s experts are at it again creating the next class of championship sails. Quantum’s Vice President of Design & Engineering Robert Ranzenbach gave a look at what it takes to design and produce the first generation of a new one design class and how Quantum designed the new Melges 40 sails.

Creating sails for one design classes requires a careful collaboration between many people. When such an effort is hitting on all cylinders, this coordinated approach can yield amazing results, like the Quantum-powered one design teams who won recent world championships in the Melges 24, Melges 32, Farr 40 , and TP 52 classes. Quantum Sails have recently turned their award-winning strategy to the new Melges 40 class, where they’re expecting similar world class results. Here’s an inside look at what it takes to create championship-winning one design sails.

When it comes to sail creation the sail designer and sailmaker aren’t enough. The boat owner, boat designer, boat builder, mast designer/builder, class representation, sailmakers, and professional sailors all contribute when creating sails for a new class. 

At Quantum, Inshore and Offshore One Design Directors coordinate entire teams of experts. The technical team includes the Vice President of Design and Engineering, Vice President of Production, designers, master sailmakers, and class gurus. The team includes more than one sail designer – Quantum purposely avoids designer exclusivity to ensure that each sail design includes the very best input from our entire team of experts.

For the Melges 40 class, the team included some of the best in the business: Scott Nixon, Jordi Calafat, Doug Stewart, Paul Tingle, Andrew Scott, and Dr. Robert Ranzenbach.

Beyond the obvious design and material requirements, creating new sails also has to takes into consideration the following:

  • Flying shapes appropriate to performance characteristics of the boat
  • Inventory
  • Fit to boat/rig
  • Finishing Details
  • Tuning Guide
  • Cost Containment

Typically, the boat designer (in this case Botin Partners) provides Velocity Prediction Program (VPP) output for the boat. Using this information, the Quantum team compares performance against other similar boats then begins developing the basic framework for the inventory.

Next, using Quantum’s exclusive iQ Technology® software, they fine tune the flying shapes to maximize the boat’s performance. After that Quantum works with the mast designer (Southern Spars) to ensure that mast properties are aligned to achieve the most desirable sail shapes.

Once the baseline sails are designed, the designers fine tune the build details with the production team to ensure that the little, but critically important, details are just right. Then the production team prepares detailed construction drawings to ensure that the sails maintain Quantum’s production standards.

"Our assembly team works closely with design and manufacturing to make sure our finish work is constantly improving in our Grand Prix classes, like the TP 52 and Melges classes," said Paul Tingle, one of Quantum’s top Grand Prix sailmakers.

Even with all of this information and the expertise of Quantum’s technical team, real-world testing is still an important element of the overall process.

The predictions for the Melges 40 indicates it will be an extremely powerful canting keel sport boat. With that in mind, Quantum’s sail designers created a flatter mainsail and deeper jibs to help front load the boat, making for better balance and VMG sailing. They’ll analyze these designs in December with their first on-the-water test. Sail shape data collected on the water (using photogrammetric tools developed by VSPARS) will be relayed to the rest of the design/build team. The sails will continue to be fine-tuned until they’re delivered, making sure every aspect of the sail meets Quantum’s understandably high expectations.

Quantum Sails: new Melges 40 sails and how it's made