The condition of the sails of a boat has great impact on how it performs. New sails can make you take a turn for the better and help you sail faster and avoid keeling over.
The condition of the sails of a boat has a great impact on how it performs. New sails can make you take a turn for the better and help you sail faster and avoid keeling over. However, sails are impossible to stay new forever; the old ones end up getting stretched and going out of shape, so they become less effective and less efficient.
It is therefore essential to keep the sails of your boat in a good condition and for the longest time possible. The following advice will help you to stretch on the life of your sails, as well as to save money.
Buy only sails that are well designed and built
It may not be necessary to say it, but in the end you get what you have paid for. Although more expensive, sails properly designed and built yield results. It’s true that initially you can save money by buying a cheaper sail, but the cost of its maintenance will be higher in the long term.
Low-quality sails made with more economic fabrics and no laboratory testing get stretched much faster than high-quality sails. The stretching of the sails makes them hang loosely and thus making them to keel over more easily than a high-quality one would do in the same conditions of sailing. Moreover, it affects the speed of the vessel negatively. Nevertheless, high-quality sails tailored correctly keep their shape much longer and are designed with the objective of bearing all types of conditions in which they may be used.
Choose the more adequate sail for each sailing conditions
It’s essential to reduce the sail as the wind gets stronger. Otherwise, they can go out of shape. Some types of sails, especially competition ones, are designed for specific ranges of wind speed. Then, it is very important to shorten it by folding it or, in the case of genoas, shorten its dimension and use the appropriate quantity of sail according to the sailing conditions.
Don’t let your sails wave or get damaged
Waving sails get damaged faster, so as to avoid it, you must hoist them quickly and roll them up quickly after turning. If you are driving while you are hoisting the sails, you must always drive slowly forward the wind and not driving fast so as to minimise the waving of the sails.
Reduce rubbing as much as possible, especially in long voyages, since repetitive rubbing can cause damage in the sails.
Protect your sails from UV radiation
UV radiation is inevitable when you are sailing, but the lifespan of a sail can be lengthened if it is kept away from this type of radiation when it is not being used. Make sure you invest in a proper cover made with a protective canvas. Lazy bag is a good option in the case of the bigger sail, since it will facilitate the manoeuvre and protect the sail from UV radiation at the same time. For genoa and hoisting sails, there are different types of covers according to the size and function of the sails, but the most common one is the solar band, which protects it when it is hoisted.
Store your sails once they are clean and dry
Before storing the sails, clean them smoothly with fresh water to eliminate the salt from the sea and dry them completely. One of the most common mistakes is to clean the sail with a product that makes all stains disappear in a matter of minutes, and people generally feel that a whitened sail means that it is perfectly maintained. However, the reality is that most products are abrasive, so the seams break and the whitening disappears, turning yellowish.
Storing sails in a wet place on board, or not having dried them properly, can cause mildewing or mossing which are not easy to clean, since they can reproduce and reappear even when they have been previously cleaned. The spinnakers must also be completely dry before being stored, as the colours can mix if the sail is stored before being dry.