Sail Service & Repair
We offer service for sails, before and after season.
SAIL CARE TIPS
Proper sail maintenance is easy and takes little time, but it can make a big difference in the life and performance of your sails. Whether you have new racing built from aramid or Dacron cruising sails that are several years old, a little care can maximize the value of your investment.
The best way to maintain the strength and shape of your sails is to minimize the amount of time they are flapping in the breeze. Flogging and leech flutter degrade cloth properties quite quickly, so every effort should be made to avoid these actions. This is especially true with aramid sails, which could lose all their strength in a few hours.
There are a few specific ways to increase the life of your sails. Don't motor into the wind at full throttle when hoisting your main. If you are powering with the main up, keep it trimmed so it doesn't flap. In heavy wind, reduce sail enough so you don't have to flog the main. Always keep your main and genoa leech lines tight enough to stop the leeches from fluttering.
Don't exceed the recommended wind range
One of the quickest ways to destroy a sail is to use it in more wind than it was built for. The best way to avoid this is to stay strictly within the maximum wind speed recommended by your North sailmaker for each sail. Usually this limit is stamped on the clew of each racing headsail. If it isn't, find out what the maximum is from your sailmaker and write it on the clew so the crew knows each sail's range.
Chafe is another enemy of sails. The more a sail rubs against any part of the boat or spars, the sooner it is likely to show failure. There are a couple of good ways to extend the life of sails: First, avoid chafe whenever possible, i.e. don't let the running backstays rub against the leeward side of the mainsail; don't drag sails over non-skid decks, around shrouds, or along the dock.
Second, when you can't avoid chafe, at least minimize it. Use tape or leather to cover spreader tips, stanchion tops—any part of your rig that constantly rubs on sails. This is especially important when using light sails such as spinnakers or light genoas. Check your boat for untaped cotter pins, sharp corners on fittings, unprotected burrs, screw heads, halyard hooks, etc. and tape them. Remember to check the front of the mast carefully, since your genoas drag across it every time you tack.
Protect from the sun
Direct sunlight is one of the worst enemies of sails since it will eventually cause breakdown of the cloth. Therefore, your goal should be to keep your sails out of the sun whenever you are not using them. A roller furling headsail, for example, should definitely have UV material on its leech and foot for protection when it's rolled up. If you flake your main on the boom, always put a cover on it.
Store sails dry and folded
When not in use, your sails should be stored dry, free of salt, and folded in their sailbags. Don't fold them on the same creases every time, as you will have eight or ten permanent creases instead of many light ones that gradually shake out by the time you reach the starting line. Most one-design sails will last longer if they are rolled in their sausage bags. Store a spinnaker dry and loosely stuffed in its turtle or folded in its envelope bag. Don't store spinnakers wet for any length of time, as darker colors will bleed into lighter ones, and dampness promotes the growth of mildew.
SPECIFIC SAIL NEEDS
No matter what your sails are made of, there are a few guidelines you should follow to prolong the life of each particular sail.
The most common sail damage is caused by using headsails, particularly light No. 1s, in too much wind. If a puff comes through unexpectedly, ease the sheet to keep the sail from loading up too much. If the increase in wind is sustained, change to a heavier sail. Another common cause of damage is tearing or splitting caused by backing the sail against the spreader. The first thing you should do is have spreader patches installed in the proper locations. Also make sure the spreader ends (and the forward stanchion tops) are well-protected with leather and/or tape. Even with these precautions, however, the sail may fail if it's backed hard on the spreaders.
Here are some good ways to prevent failure:
Make sure your jib tailer casts off the jib sheet early enough on the tacks and doesn't overtrim coming out of the tack
Don't use wheels, rollers or pads that extend the spreader tip beyond the shroud (less protrusion means less damage)
Inspect seam stitching in spreader areas periodically
Keep the leechline tucked away in its pocket— not flying free
If you have a grooved headstay, be sure to use the pre-feeder so you won't rip the luff tape
Don't trim on the sheet until the halyard is all the way to the top
Mainsails take a lot of abuse because they are used in all conditions. Therefore, it's especially important to treat them carefully in order to maximise their useful life. As mentioned, the most important consideration especially with a aramid main, is to avoid flogging. Always trim the sheet hard enough to settle the sail and prevent hard flogging of the leech.
Some other ideas:
Keep the leechline tight enough to stop flutter
Don't pull too hard on the Cunningham of a laminated sail
Make sure the battens are inserted properly
Use colored sailties when reefing so you won't miss them when unreefing
Make sure the reefing line is led so you don't pull too hard on the foot
Spreader patches will help the main last longer when it is eased against the rig for running
Nylon is relatively stretchy, so it's able to absorb large loads without breaking. However, spinnaker material is quite light and can easily fail from use in too much wind. Explosive refilling after a collapse is definitely a problem. Another common cause of failure in spinnakers is tearing on sharp objects. This often happens on sets or takedowns, so be sure that these areas are catch-free. You should also be sure that your genoa halyards are free of "meathooks" and that the pulpit doesn't have any snags.