Sails don’t last for eternity, but with the right care and maintenance, sails can offer many years of service. Sails may get damaged due to weak stitching, flogging, wind wear and tear, elements exposure, and degradation from the sun’s UV radiation. Look for signs like fraying or ripped stitching and overly strained attachment points to determine if your sail is worn out.
Preserving your sail’s life is essential for performance and protecting your investment. A sail’s durability depends on material quality, use type and exposure, rigging and size, and maintenance and care. A worn-out sail also wrinkles when at the close haul. Here are tips for making sails last.
- Have your sail regularly inspected by experts
While you can do sail inspection yourself, having it by sails experts ensures a thorough checkup. Through checkups, you can discover tired straps, small tears, dying sliders, and more. Professional inspections may also reveal sail usage-related problems. For instance, loose seams down the luff might indicate extra halyard tension. Fixing issues when they’re still minor prevents costly repairs and replacements, prolonging your sail’s life. Consider making annual inspections a part of your winterization routine for maximum sails life.
- Consider recutting for sail shape maintenance
Over time, sails begin to age while stretching, causing them to lose shape. Shape loss makes it difficult to point, steer, and control the heel. To keep track of sail shape changes, take photos of the sails every year. You can share them with a sailmaker periodically so they can analyze the shape changes and suggest the proper course of action. When your sail loses shape, and its fabric remains in good condition, you can have it recut to its original shape, extending effectiveness at a more affordable cost than getting a new sail.
- Examine the rigging adjustment
If a sail is poorly rigged, its performance is significantly affected. This is why you shouldn’t rule out rigs as a possible cause for performance issues, especially if you’re a boater who doesn’t tune your rigs regularly. Sailing with an expert will help you identify the adjustments that can help fix the rig failure.
- Consider optimizing your sails
Improving sail quality and extending its life can be achieved by making several investments, including an extra reef, patches for spreaders’ protection, a UV strip, and other accessories from Far East Sails. The winter season would be an excellent time to consult your sailmaker about the modifications you can make to improve your sail’s performance while boosting its lifespan.
- Maintain your sails’ cleanliness
Salt and other debris and dirt can be damaging for any sail. Periodic sail cleaning is a core maintenance activity for increasing efficiency and ensuring longevity. Upon exposing your sail to saltwater, clean it sooner and remove grime whenever possible. Clean or rinse your staysail or genoa more often than mainsails stowed under covers when they’re in use. Running a finger down your sail’s foot and tasting it can help you determine if it’s salty.
- Protect your sail from UV
Keep the mainsail covered when not in use. Direct sunlight breaks down the cover cloth and eventually reaches the sail. When furling headsails, keep the UV strip outside when the sail is furled.
Sail care and maintenance are essential for good sail health and performance. Use the above tips to make your sails last.