Tips for helping your sails last longer
Proper sail trim can help preserve the life of your sails.
Use a sun screen
Always make sure when hoisting your genoa that it will roll onto the furler with the UV protection cover on the outside. If the sail gets rolled up with the acrylic cover on the inside, the sun will cook the leech (back edge) of your genoa. If your main does not roll into the mast, be sure to put the sail cover on when the sail is down. The leech of any sail carries the highest load, and when your main is down on the boom, the leech is exposed more than any part of the sail.
Flogging, or violent luffing, breaks down the fibers in your sails. Some luffing is inevitable (when raising your mainsail for instance), but try to keep this to a minimum. Never motor directly up wind for extended periods of time with your main flogging.
Don't let the flogging continue
The top of your genoa suffers from flogging when the jib sheet lead block is too far aft. When the lead block is too far aft, the sheet applies more tension straight back along the foot than down along the leech. This causes the top of the sail to flutter. Check the information on where to set the lead block in the encyclopedia.
Follow the lead
Don’t forget that when you roller reef your genoa in strong winds, you’ll need to move the genoa sheet lead block forward because as you roll the sail, the clew moves forward. If you don’t move the lead block, the top of the sail will flutter violently in the stiff breeze.
Keep a tight formation
If the leech of your sail is flapping, tighten the leech line. Most sails have a line running along the leech with a jam cleat at the bottom. Not only does tightening the leech line reduce the noise, but it prevents the back of your sail from destroying itself.
Trimming your sails properly in strong winds requires a lot of halyard tension on both the main and genoa. If you have roller furling, do your sails a favor by easing the tension on the halyards when you come in from sailing. Leaving them tight stretches them unnecessarily .
When you put your boat away at the end the season, take your sails off the boat and deliver them to your sail loft for washing and inspection. This is the best way to protect your investment. Washing your sails extends their useful life by removing dirt and salt that abrades sailcloth. Repairing any minor problems can stop them from becoming major money pits. “Do it your selfers” should rinse off both sides of all sails with a garden hose, then dry them well before storing them in a cool dry place. Do not store your sails in your boat where they can pick up nasty odors and mildew over the winter.