There’s plenty to think about when it comes to your boat. One of the most important considerations which is often overlooked is what to do with your sails?. How do you best preserve them over the winter, or is it time to review your sail wardrobe in light of your sailing plans for next season?.
Here are some pointers to help you start to look at your options, and remember our team are always available to chat about anything sail related if you have any questions.
How old are your sails?
When sails ‘work’ it can sometimes be hard to see if you are getting the most from them still and perhaps more importantly are they helping you get the best from your boat.
Age is not always a factor, but it’s a good place to start, other areas such as general wear and tear, and their shape when hoisted should all be taken into consideration.
We recommend having all sails serviced and laundered. This will make sure the salts and air pollutants are removed from the material and that they are dry and ready for winter storage.
As Kevin Sproul, Director of Ultimate Sails, explains, ‘There are six deadly sins that shorten the life of your sails: sunlight, flogging, creasing, salt water, chafe and dirt. On the other hand, if there is one simple step which you can take that is guaranteed to improve the performance and longevity of any of your sails, irrespective of the type or cloth, and that is to have them properly laundered and serviced.'
Whilst Sproul's six deadly sins are never entirely avoidable over the course of a sailing season, by booking your sails in for a service now, Ultimate Sails will be able to check for any damage or wear, make repairs where necessary and launder your sails to ensure that you are all set for the new season.
If I need new sails where do I start?
Sails are an investment and when you have time on your side in the "off" season it's good to review your options to help you achieve your sailing goals. Whether that be short handed racing, offshore, around the cans, or cruising along the coast, now is the time to ask yourself if your sail inventory will keep you competitive through the wind range and angles and help you get the most out of your boat.
The obvious option is like for like, replacing your existing sails with identical new ones. However, this may not be the best option for you especially if you're changing the style of sailing you do. It's worth gauging ideas about what’s available in the marketplace in terms of new materials, design options or added features that can perhaps improve performance or ease of handling.
A balanced boat is a happy boat, and to improve balance perhaps a new mainsail would have one or more of the reefing points in a different place, to either take in more or less sail when reefed so the boat will handle better over a wider wind range?.
Looking forward of the mast to the headsails, do they work as well as possible to suit your sailing style?. We often find with cruising boats that they are sailing everywhere with the headsail slightly furled. That's an indication that the sail is too big and it's time think about a smaller sail which could improve performance and balance in a positive way, making your boat easier to handle and faster.
Very few Furling headsails actually set properly when furled however we can refine the design to help flatten out the sail when reefed. Again, perhaps you could make the sail slightly smaller and raise the clew to give you much better visibility?.
Modern materials allow for greater choice and flexibility. A furling genoa could be replaced with a furling jib and would not only make the boat easier to handle but when you look at the wind strengths you generally sail in it will almost certainly improve the performance of your boat. What works for one style of boat design does not always work across the board, experience and design programmes help our analysis, and ensure you get the best sail for your boat.
Do you race?
Many of the above comments apply just as much to racing sails, the better you look after them the longer they'll remain competitive and help you win more races. Sails all shrink and taking the simple step of remeasuring them could result in a lower rating without losing any performance. It’s always worth checking, you could be in for a nice surprise. It might also be a good time to look at your sail inventory and see if you have the best options for your boat, crew and ambitions for the type of racing planned for next season.
Start your checklist by making sails a priority as they are the engine of a sailing boat and good ones will transform the performance of your boat and quality of your sailing for next season.
Of course, if you need to replace any of your sail inventory we will be delighted to provide you with a competitive online quote or just give us a call.