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Old 01-03-2012
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My Sails are Old and Baggy

I frequently see boats with newish sails rigged, and old sails stuffed away "in case of emergency". Just today I noticed a thread here in which the poster is asking about a new mainsail and suggesting he would be keeping the old sail for backup.

Is this really a good practice? In my line of work, the backup equipment must be equal or superior to the primary, otherwise a load-related failure would just cascade through.

It seems to me that by far the most likely cause of a damaged sail at sea would be very severe weather. Have any of you ever had a sail damaged for a different reason? If the winds are so high that they destroy a good sail, that backup sail doesn't stand a chance.

Now, I freely admit that I don't have firsthand experience with sail failure, hence my question. Would it not be better to eke the last bits of life out of the old sail under good conditions, keeping the better sail in reserve until the old one reaches its true end of life? Or, alternatively, to purchase two sets of sails and alternate them regularly so they wear at the same rate.

Opinions and war stories, please.
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