How do you tell if sails are good? - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 3 Old 02-06-2001 Thread Starter
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How do you tell if sails are good?

I am new to sailing. I am currently looking at 22'' - 26'' used sailboats. I have seen several used boats with sails neatly packed and crisp to wadded up and stuffed in the cabin like dirty laundry. What do I look for when I put up and inspect the sails? What makes a "good condition" sail vs "poor"? Thanks
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post #2 of 3 Old 02-07-2001
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How do you tell if sails are good?

Dirty laundry is not a good thing to hoist on your spars, so figure the cost of new sails in your future in that situation. Otherwise, synthetic sails that are quite old (10-15 years) can still look OK as far as wear & tear on seams and corners, etc. Determining if they''ve held their shape is another matter. A sail may be only used once, but if it was for a 2,000 mile trip in gale winds, you''ll need a new one. A sail that looks to have solid seams & little wear may be OK for cruising in the trades for another five years, but might not be suitable for a single race around the bouys next weekend because the shape isn''t quite right. If it looks OK to you, it probably is ok for what you plan to do. When you''re ready to think about new sails, get a sailmaker to have a look.
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post #3 of 3 Old 03-02-2001
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How do you tell if sails are good?

A local sailmaker gave me some great advice when I bought my latest boat, a 1983 C&C. Basically, the sails I got with the boat were old, blown out, or rather floppy.

He told me to plan for sails in the second season I had the boat, not immediately. Sail the boat for a year with whatever it has, unless the sail actually disintegrates when you bend it on. His advice was to figure out if a) I liked the boat and b) what I wanted to do with it.

At the end of last summer, we worked out a plan that was of course quite different than I would have anticipated at the start of the summer. ( I loved the boat, and got more into racing than I ever expected, so we crafted the new sails accordingly).

If you want to be sure about the sails, take them to a reputable sail loft and have them evaluated. Some will do this for little or no charge; you are after all a potential customer some day.

During the survey of my boat, both the surveyor and the broker thought my sails looked great and I would be well off with them for a while. This was wrong, we actually raced the boat with a blown out 150 genoa as it rained chunks of Mylar down on our heads.

Anyway, if the sails are a big item of concern either have them surveyed seperately or take them to a loft.
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