Sailors Choice                Sail Lofts and All About Sails 
Sail.  Sounds pretty simple, get a broom pole, a couple of bed sheets, some line and there you go.  Don't we wish!  Those of us who have raced know the annual battle we have with ourselves (and sometimes our partners, crew and significant other) about getting new sails this year or can we get by another season with the old ones?  Depends on whether we want to win or not!  A good set of racing sails is important, how they are made, the shape, depth, batten or full batten.  But so is knowing how to trim and what sail to use under the particular situation.  And don't forget cruising sails.  Sturdy and made to hold their shape through the longest cruise, does a happy trip make....

The sails are the work horse of your boat and, like a horse, will perform better and last longer with a little attention.  Some of the elements detrimental to the shape and material of your sails include Sun, Flogging, Moisture & Salt, Reefing, Chaff and Bad Storage practices.  

SUN EXPOSURE:  That's what sail covers are for!

FLOGGING:  We've all experienced the monotonous flop, flop, flop of sails when there is no wind.  We know this isn't good for the sails, the material is stretched and worn as the battens rub against it in their pockets and sometimes the sail will rub against either the backstay or the shrouds.  During a race, this is the cost of competition.  But did you know that the same damage can be done to a main when powering.  Keep your racing main for the races, and if having to motor any distance, use the back up.  It's probably already seen it's day.

MOISTURE & SALT:  Unless you're sailing in the rain, rinse off your sails and let them dry before you put them away.  And that includes the furler.  Salt crystals will act as sand paper on your sails and tend to attract moisture (remember the seat of your pants once they get wet with salt water, YIKES)  And mold will grow on sails, weakening the material and looking really bad if put away wet!

REEFING: Sloppy reefing can occur for a number of reasons.  The only acceptable one is that is the only way you can get a reef in!  Make sure the clew is tensioned out and tie the inside points loosely as they are not intended to be stress points.

CHAFF:  That little pin that gives you a boat bite will do a lot of damage to your sail and so will repeated tacking against the wire of your shrouds.  Consider chafe patches and plastic shroud covers.  And wrap any turnbuckles, pins and rings with tape.  Spreader boots will protect the top of your sails.  Do a "bite" check occasionally (women tend to find them easier than men).  

STORAGE:  If you live in a place where you winterize your boat or if you take your racing sails off the boat, be sure that they are either flaked or rolled properly.  Mains are best rolled.  Even if you keep your sails on your boat, check for visitors, nothing like putting up the main and having a nest, baby birds and an irate mother bird flying out of your sails.  And we've heard stories that mice and other little creatures love to play maze with home stored sails.  And again, make sure they are salt free and dry. 
AND check your sails occasionally for rips and wear and get them repaired as soon as you can.  Little tears can escalate into huge rips at the least opportune time.
Sail Lofts

Ullman Sails
  We invite you to take advantage of the expertise you'll find in our worldwide network of sail lofts, each locally-owned and operated by master sailmakers. They're ready to help you reach your sailing goal.
Sail & Canvas Maintenance
One of the most important items on your sailboat is its sails. Sailmakers are acutely aware of the cost of sails as part of the total investment and operating costs of a sailboat. Just like changing the oil regularly to protect the engine, regular sail cleanings are just as important to the life of "the other engine" on your boat, even though sails represent a far more significant share of the total investment and life cycle cost of the boat. The Sail Cleaners, 4910 N.E. 11th Ave., Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33334 (954) 491-3327
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