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Composite sails hailed.

|America.sup.3~ put Spectra composite sails ("Cuban sails") to good use this past May in San Diego, Calif., in its successful quest for the America's Cup XXVII title. With Spectra-based sails reportedly cutting 30 to 60 seconds off its race times, |America.sup.3~ beat the Italian challenger, I1 Moro di Venezia, four races to one in the best-of-seven series.

Made with Spectra, a product of Allied-Signal Inc., the sails are 40% to 50% lighter than traditional sails and are said to be ten times stronger than steel. The proprietary sail design is a result of two years of research by Dr. Heiner Meldner (technical director of |America.sup.3~), a team from Stanford University research, YLA Inc., and Allied-Signal.

The high-performance fiber also is used in the boat's hull and lines. The material was chosen for the hull composites because of its high strength-to-weight ratio, low density, low specific gravity, and high impact resistance. Spectra has two important features for the hull--it is far lighter than other materials commonly used in boat hulls, and with Spectra, specific tensile strength is almost doubled. |America.sup.3~ uses Spectra lines because of their higher strength, abrasion resistance, and flex-fatigue resistance.

Other marine applications include commercial fishing nets and composites used in kayaks, sailboards, and skis. Nonmarine applications range from surgical gloves and bandage-like, puncture-resistant pads for surgeons to bullet-resistant armor and military and commercial aircraft. Allied-Signal Inc., High Performance Fibers, Technical Center, P.O. Box 31, Petersburg, VA 23804; (804) 520-3321; Fax (804) 520-3388. Circle 166.
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Title Annotation:Spectra composite sails from Allied-Signal Inc.
Publication:Plastics Engineering
Date:Jul 1, 1992
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