Join Date: May 2002
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Most people who are thinking about buying a new sail only provide the most basic information to their sailmaker, such as the size, make and age of their boat, but if you give them more information, you'll probably be much more satisfied with the final product. Tell your sailmaker where and how you will use the boat, and what options you want (type of luff attachment (i.e., roller furling or hanked-on), reef points, flattening reef, cunningham, sail windows, telltale windows, sail numbers, type of battens, type of foot (i.e., shelf foot, attached foot, loose-foot), leech lines, type and size of sail slides, etc.,) and ask him to give you his recommendations on such things as the type and weight of sailcloth, as well as anything you're unsure about. I ask him to tell me the name of the manufacturer of the sailcloth. Better sailmakers will use good quality sailcloth. I also ask his thinking about any new design features that I've read or heard about. I trust a name-brand sailmaker's judgment with regard to the cut of the sails. I think a well-made set of sails with a good, all-purpose shape, is as good as I'll ever need, and, unless you pay extra for custom sails, that's what you'll get. You can use the sail trimming devices on the boat to give the sails a flat or full shape. If racing is important to you, tell the sailmaker, and the best ones will make sure the sails have as much sail area as the class rules allow.
Before you talk to the sailmaker, think about the options you want, and what you're going to tell him. He doesn't expect you to know everything about sails, but if he senses that you've thought about what you want, and that you understand basic principles, he'll give you better, more detailed information. Don't be afraid to ask him to explain how any of the various sail trimming options can help you. If you think about all these options before you order the sail, you won't be disappointed when you receive your new sails and learn that the slugs won't fit the mast slot, or that you forgot to order sail numbers.