There are some simple tips from PBS for maintaining the life of your sails, which can have a dramatic effect on how long they will hold their shape and remain in useable condition before replacement is required. There are some obvious points such as minimising how much sails are allowed to flap while raising, lowering, furling or reefing them, but a key to longevity of furling headsails is to take the tension off the luff before you furl. That doesn’t mean letting the luff become slack and potentially causing furling problems, but just backing off the halyard to take most of the load off the luff. This will allow the sail to furl more evenly when putting it away, with the result that as the sail gets sun and rain on it it will stretch less and not lose its shape while furled. Similarly with mainsails folding them with even folds rather than untidily into your boom-bag will also increase the life of the fabric.
Battens should be firm in their pockets, but not too tight where they will cause distortion around the front of the pocket, or conversely if there are obvious wrinkles showing then tension the battens just firm.
If leaving your yacht unattended for an extended period of time it is worthwhile taking the headsail down and packing it away rather than leaving it in the weather.
Sails are not self-servicing! The UV strip on your headsail, and on the clew of furling mainsails is sacrificial, and needs to be replaced periodically, also high wear areas may need re-stitching or reinforcing from time to time. This should be part of your annual servicing of your yacht.
It’s also worth mentioning that your sail shape is determined by the tuning of your rigging, and pre-bend of the mast. It’s a very worthwhile exercise to have your rigging checked and tuned yearly. You may not be aware of just how much this can affect the way that your sails look, and how your yacht handles. Even a small change in pre-bend can significantly change the shape of your mainsail and how it responds to gusts, and if you have much forestay sag (lack of tension) this makes an enormous difference to how a headsail behaves as the wind increases.
If, for whatever reason, your sails have become grubby we’re very lucky here in Sydney to have the only facility in the Country for cleaning sails under vacuum. Vacuwash is a unique system for sail cleaning and protection that we can highly recommend.
If your sails are simply getting towards the end of their life we can quote replacements from reputable sail lofts. Or if you are looking to supplement your existing sails with a Code 0, Assy or spinnaker we can also assist with that.
Here at PBS we provide a one-stop point of service for all things for your boat, from servicing to maintenance and optimisation. So if we can help you in any way contact firstname.lastname@example.org or ring (02)9979 9755 and ask for Damien Goff.