SAILS CARE TIPS


Proper sail maintenance is easy and takes little time, but it can make a big difference to the life and performance of your sails.

Avoid flogging

The best way to maintain the strength and shape of your sails is to minimise the amount of time they are flapping in the breeze. Flogging and sail flutter degrade cloth properties, so every effort should be made to avoid these actions.

Don’t exceed the recommended wind range

Using a sail in more wind than it was built for is one of the quickest ways to destroy it.

Reduce chafe

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. In order to extend the life of sails it is therefore necessary to avoid chafe whenever possible (don’t drag sails over non-skid decks, around shrouds, or along the dock) and, when you can’t avoid chafe, at least minimise it (use tape to cover any part that may rub on your sails).

Protect from the sun

Direct sunlight may cause breakdown of the cloth.
Therefore keep your sails out of the sun whenever you are not using them.
Always put your boom cover on.

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 colours may bleed into lighter ones, and dampness promotes the growth of mildew.


How to avoid mildew


    Ensure that the sails are aired regularly, especially after rain. This may mean unrolling the mainsail on the mooring for an hour, on a calm, dry day.
    Exposure to sunlight is helpful, but too much causes other problems.
    Do not put a sail away if damp or salty (the salt attracts and retains moisture), and store it in a dry location.
    If the boat is to be left for more than three weeks, take the sail off the rig and store it dry, or arrange for somebody to air it regularly, especially after rain.

How to treat mildew

Treat mildew at the earliest possible moment. If you do not, it can spread quickly. There is an excellent chance of getting mildew stains off when they are new, relatively small, and close to the surface. But there is little chance once they have spread and set into the fibres. Isolate mildew-infected sails, anchor lines, covers, and so forth, from clean sails because mildew spreads quickly.
The most popular mildew killer and remover is simple household bleach (also known as sodium hypochlorite), in solutions of about 3%.

ATTENTION-CAUTION: DO NOT USE BLEACH on
KEVLAR® or NYLON, EVER, UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES!!!
Do not ever mix bleach and ammonia: this chemical combination result is phosgene gas which may kill and disable. After washing with bleach, always rinse thoroughly with plenty of fresh water. Bleach that is not removed can cause long-term structural damage that is more harmful than the cosmetic damage caused by the mildew. For particularly stubborn, deep set stains, surface cleaning will not work. It is necessary to immerse the stain in a fungicide for 12 hours or more, to allow it to get in to where the stain is. It is not necessary to use a particularly high concentration, only to get the fungicide where the stain is. No amount of vigorous surface scrubbing will do what a good soak will do.
If the mildew stain does not come out after one good wash with the proper equipment and chemicals, give up. Experience shows that further washings/ scourings/ treatments remove very little additional stain and cause a lot of other damage. Water repellents do not have any properties that either kill or prevent the recurrence of mildew. They may be marginally effective at repelling some of the moisture and nutrients on which mildew feeds, and might make cleaning easier by holding the stains away from the fibres.


North cloth useage


Dacron®

Dacron® is a fabric composed of 100% polyester fibres in both warp and fill.  
The fabric is first woven on advanced looms, the second stage is to add a Melamine layer onto the fibres, this is applied as a hot liquid and is scraped onto the fabric to lock the fibres in place whilst also helping with the UV protection of the Yarn.
Typically some One Design Dacron’s have a high amount of resin and it is recommended that these sails be rolled rather than folded.
When washing the sail, we recommend that you use soap and water - avoid the use of strong chemicals or solvents.  Do not clean the surface of your sails with aggressive use of brushes or power washers as this can damage the resin impregnation on the surface of the sail.

Nylon

Nearly all Spinnakers and Gennakers are made out of Nylon. This material is popular because it is lightweight and strong. However, since Nylon is light it can tear quite easily, so be careful when handling it. If you get a small tear, you can tape over it temporarily, but get the sail repaired by a North Sails authorized center as soon as possible. Absolutely avoid contact with bleach or any other product containing Sodium Hypochlorite.


Kevlar®

Kevlar® is exceptionally strong for its weight. That’s why you’ll find Kevlar® in many racing sails, where loads are the greatest. However, Kevlar® can also break down quickly if not treated properly. The key with a Kevlar® sail is to avoid flogging, leech flutter and at all costs avoid contact with bleach.


Mylar®

Sails made of Mylar® film are laminated to a polyester substrate and provide good strength for their weight. However it’s wise to:
•    never exceed your sail’s recommended wind range;
•    never use a genoa that doesn’t have spreader patches;
•    don’t flog the sail unnecessarily;
•    don’t overstretch the luff of a Mylar® sail, it needs only a bit of luff tension;
•    keep sails away from any kind of heat (i.e. engine)    and don’t let any solvents (such as dieselfuel or cleaning agents) get on them, because these would dissolve the glue and cause panel separation.


Racing Sails


Mainsails - Genoa 

Hoist your new mainsail at a dock or mooring on a calm day to make sure the fit is correct. Check the luff and foot for proper finishing.
Adjust batten tension by using the batten loader attached to the clew of your new sail.
U.V. is not your friend. Use a sail cover after racing, or stow your sail below in a dry place. Any laminated sailcloth will break down faster if it is creased, crushed, stuffed or walked on. Treat your sail with care and your sail will deliver lasting performance.
All North laminated overlapping genoas are supplied with spreader patches. If your sail arrives without them, it’s possible the locations weren’t supplied when the sail was built. If your sail does not have spreader patches, mark the sail and return it to your North loft.
Check stanchion patch locations (if supplied with sail order). Stanchion patches are often required on light genoas, especially if they are constructed from 3DL™. Repair small tears using sticky-back insignia tape.
Sails stowed onboard should be in a dry, ventilated area, away from the engine, heater or cabin lights (especially quartz-halogen). When putting away sails between races, check for small tears or holes.
To combat chafe, be sure spreader ends are taped and there are no exposed split pins or sharp edges around the mast, foredeck, lifelines and turnbuckles. At the end of the season take your sail to one of our North Sails lofts in order to check it over and do any necessary repairs. This is the best way to guarantee lasting performances and prolong the life of your sail.

Racing Spinnakers - Asymmetrics 

Try to dry your downwind sails between races. Darker colors may “bleed” if the sail is stuffed in the bag wet (North Sails is not responsible for mildew or colour bleeding of Nylon fabrics).
Wet Nylon is about three times as stretchy as dry nylon, and often significantly heavier. This affects shape holding and performance but not durability. Small tears can be repaired with insignia tape or North Sails spinnaker repair tape. Use duct tape only if absolutely necessary and, then, sparingly.
Go to one of our North Sails loft to receive an effective repair.


Cruising Sails


Furling Mainsail

Hoist the sail on a calm day and check the fit. Be sure the luff tape fits the furler and the clew outhaul is finished correctly.
If your boat is equipped with electric winches, do not over-hoist or apply too much outhaul.
When leaving the boat, ease the main halyard and the outhaul to prevent permanent luff and foot stretching.
Avoid prolonged flogging. This accelerates cloth wear and reduces sail performance.
Do not motor upwind with the main hoisted and flogging.

FullBatten Mains

If you are installing a batten car system, make sure the cars fit the mast, and the foot fits the boom. Hoist the sail on a calm day and put in a reef to be sure the reef positions are correct.
You may also mark your reef lines with a marker or tape for accurate settings. Always cover your sail after sailing. U.V. is not your friend.

Furling Genoas

Choose a calm day to hoist the sail and check that the luff tape fits the furler and the hoist is correct. Too many wrinkles in the luff is not good, but neither is over-tensioning.
Trim the sail in on a tight reach and adjust the leech and foot lines to prevent flogging.
Spreader patches: all overlapping laminated sails are equipped with spreader patches. Make sure they are positioned correctly. If your sail arrives without spreader patches, it’s possible the locations weren’t supplied when the sail was built. If your sail does not have spreader patches, mark the sail and return it to your North loft.
U.V. cover: be certain that the cover is on the outside of the sail when the sail is furled. If you are going to be away from your boat for an extended length of time, you should remove the sail, flake it, and store it in a dry place away from heat sources. This will help to prolong the life of your sail.

Gennaker & Snuffer

See “Racing Spinnakers and Asymmetrics” for care and maintenance.
If you have a North Gennaker and Snuffer,
additional instructions are included to show how to set, douse and trim your
Gennaker and use your Snuffer sail sleeve system.



One-Design Sails

Like all other sails, avoid flogging. Sometimes, such as starting, this is unavoidable, but it’s important not to exaggerate. It’s a good idea to break new sails in for a few hours before using them in racing conditions.
Yarn-tempered sails should be rolled when not in use. If your sail has a window, avoid storing it in high-tempered areas like car boots.
A good way to keep sails salt-free is to put them up on a calm day, hose them off and let them dry in place.
At the end of the season, if you bring your sails to one of our North lofts, we can check them over and do any necessary repairs.