Well, it seems Jolly ol' Saint Jep has a few things in store for the 2011 season. Most notably, Jep is getting a new main sail!
Deciding on which sail maker to go with was a learning experience. My first inclination was to go straight to the North Sails loft here in Milwaukee. While that would be the most convenient, there are a few reasons I opted to stay away.
First, without mentioning any names, my first encounter with the North Sails staff left me with a bad taste in my mouth. Two years ago, I sent my current main in for repair and improvement and it took over 4 months for them to return the sail. Even worse, I had to hunt my sail down by finally calling the Chicago loft. What a headache.
Second, after talking with numerous sailors and smaller local sail makers, it became apparent that the North Dacron sails are not up to par with other sails. The North 4800 Dacron tends to lose it's shape faster as the Dacron sail cloth is lower quality than the cloth used by UK or Doyle. It's also noteworthy that North makes all of it's own sail cloth while the others go to 3rd party vendors.
With North out of the race, so to speak, I requested quotes from UK-Halsey, Doyle, and Nielson Sailmakers. Both UK and Doyle lofts are located in Chicago while Nielson is a "local" loft in Racine. All three lofts had very knowledgeable staff and excellent customer service.
After doing all of my homework, I decided to go with a Doyle 2+2 XC Race Dacron main sail. I'm definitely looking forward to the performance improvement with the new sail! Below is the brochure created by the folks at Doyle Sailmakers for the main I will be ordering. The sail in the brochure has 2 reef points while the sail I ordered has one. I am also having draft stripes put on.
Update 12/22/2010: The sail has been ordered! I should take delivery in late January or early February.