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Thread: "Lee Sails"

12,268 posts on 2,444 threads   •   From Mar 07, 2004 - Jan 08, 2012


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Lee Sails

Gary and Charlotte Burton

Has anyone tried Lee sails? The prices are 1/2 of what others are asking....whats the catch?

Aaron Norlund


They're made overseas - Hong Kong. I know a few people with their sails and all are happy. However, the benefits of using a local loft, or someone with knowledge of your boat, may be worth the extra cost. I intend to have a local loft (Porpoise Sails, Sarasota FL) make my sails. This way, if something isn't right, or I want something modified, I can have the things done quickly and inexpensively.

Aaron N.

I must admit that I agree with Aaron N.
A friend of mine (with a sloop rig about the size of our 32a) got a new half price mainsl built overseas. It was fine, but, . . . it needed tweeking and that cost a few hundred dollars locally. Then, it needed more tweeking and that cost a few more hundred dollars locally. I'm still not sure if all the tweaking is done. Meanwhile, I had already ordered a new custom made, hand made in the USA, main and staysl from the sailmaker that built the last sails for my W32 in the mid 1980s. I was even able to send him the old sails to make sure he could reproduce them as closely as possible. Total cost, I figure, about $300-$500 more than my friends spent on their half price sail (main). The price differential includes a third set of reef points and handsewn rings and leather chafe protection, etc..., etc..., and top flight modern sail cloth, to boot. Of course, I also have shipping costs of about $60 each way. I'll be getting delivery any day now.
Good luck and I hope you find a deal that gives you max bang for the buck.

One more thing,
I've only sailed Satori a few days, but when the wind kicked up and was hitting us on the nose in the open Gulf- and against the flow of the stream- I was greatly reassured by the fact that I had never seen sails set more beautifully. Yes, they were old, yes they had UV degradation, but they set beautifully. that was when I decided to ask for replacement sails from the last maker. I understand he and Ray Leonard spent an awful lot of time over the decades tweaking those sails. I saw no reason to even think about starting over. Tweaking is bad in my view.

Gary and Charlotte Burton

I don't know about all this talk of tweaking. All of the lofts I have talked to have made sails for W32's and the measurements are pretty simple. Surely its not common to send sails back to a loft when they are new?
Someone set me straight
$1250 is the Lee sails price ...triple stitched, 2 reef points, telltales, triple reinforcement at tack, head and clew etc..... pretty much the same as all the others including material.
Made in Hong Kong is not in itself areason not to buy there....afterall I was born in South Africa

Gary and Charlotte Burton

I know next to nothing about sails!

Gary and Charlotte Burton

How much did you spend on your main Randy?

Am sorry I have no firm number on the main, but I think it was about $2800 with your specs plus triple reef points, hand sewn rings, gringles, leathers, leachline, and etc...
Also, Kern seems to be the man for sailmaking for the fleet from what I gather. I just happen to have a special situation with my boat's sailmaker.
And yes, the old sails were well tweaked. I love that part!

Ivan and Jane

Our W42 has had Lee sails, since 1974. Stitching fine, not too sure they have had a great deal of hard sailing. Jib needs replacing, so I emailed Lee sails saying that you, Lee Sails, made all the sails for this W42 back in 1974, how much would a new Jib cost? 600 was the pleasant reply.

Gary and Charlotte Burton

OK - so I'm at the happiest place on earth and its 6.8 miles from Kern sails (as the crow flies)
Tomorrow I plan to make the pilgrimage and study at the feet of the master...... I must say I'm excited.

Can't go wrong with Kern Sails.
Congratulations on the preliminary decision and best of luck.

Bud Taplin

Gary, If you are in Newport Beach, give me a call and we can meet.

Colleen Crystal

Gary - I hope you can make it to this year's Rendezvous, I'd also like to meet, as I was also "born in South Africa"!

P.S. I'm still saving up for new sails from Kern. Super guy, he usually stops by the rendezvous as well and every year has given me some good advice!

Gary and Charlotte Burton

Hey Bud - stopped off at your office but you were out. Probably having martini's with a customer somewhere....
Colleen, where in SA are you from? I grew up in Pietermaritzburg and completed my apprenticeship in Durban. My brother and father live in Gordons Bay.

Kern was great, answered all my dumb questions and made me feel at home. He showed me a staysail they had just built and I gave him my deposit check for a new main and staysail.
Roll on spring and summer!

Colleen Crystal

Hi Gary-
I was born in Johannesburg, we left when I was 8 for Canada. But I went to live back there for a while at 18, and continue to visit every 5 years or so. I have family in Pretoria, Cape Town and Durban. And have spent some great vacations in all these places. My favorite spots by far are the Hogsback where I worked and lived for a while, and St. Lucia where they have an amazing World Heritage Site as well as the game reserves these days. I'd live there if we could make a living,and if it was safer - but always dream about circumnavigating by way of SA one day!
Hopefully we meet up May 3rd, otherwise next time your around HB or San Pedro (where the boat is) let me know.

Congratulations on your sail purchase.
Am about to make final settlement and take possession of my main. It was about the price I told you.

Gary and Charlotte Burton

Happy tweaking Randy!

Aaron Norlund


What style of main did you decide on? Full batten/roach as Kern suggests?


Gary and Charlotte Burton

Aaron - yes. I realise that this will probably shorten the life of the sail but I feel the positives outweigh the negatives.
I hope to race the boat locally when I have a clue..... there are other similar boats in the local fleet in Brookings, it should be a lot of fun.
Are you still planning on going battenless?

Gary and Charlotte Burton

Colleen - unfortunately we won't be at the rendezvous... its a 12 hour drive from where we live.
If you're ever up in the southern Oregon area stop by and we will brew you a cup of rooibos.
I spent some time at St Lucia as I had a friend in conservation there.

Aaron - I was not sure either. I felt Kern could make a better decision than I knowing what I want to do with the boat and where we will sail and taking into account my skill level.

I feel good about the decision and like you say its much better to go "local" and get personal service. I allways wanted to meet Kern anyway

Aaron Norlund


I'm not sure. I'll probably do whatever Porpoise sail's suggests. I've done a bunch of patching to my main, so we're going to try to eek another year or two out of it. If we run into a chunk of spending money, perhaps we'll splurge. Right now, we're just trying to making ends meet and get the balance saved up for our Cape Horn windvane!

Aaron N.

Tom and Dana Stiffler

My first boat had Lee sails, a 1977 CT 42 ketch. They were pretty good sails too. I had a 150 Genoa, main and mizzen. I had a new set made by Morrelli in Ventura CA in 1982 but the original Lee sails were still in very good shape. Bottom line they are decent sails at a very good price but if you want top quality you should consider local sail makers who know your boat and can fit the sails to it. Kern still has to be the best overall in price and fit for the W32 imo.

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