Latest News: Forums Cruising New (?secondhand) sails for cruising

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  • #4586

    Dear ‘Farers

    Current sails, especially main, are pretty flogged. Leech flaps regardless of how tensioned and the fabric is variously stained. Would like to replace with a nice bright, stiff set, for sake of speed and vanity. Seeking advice on best way forward. Trident UK for instance are selling main and genoa (with reefing points) for around £750. But would be happier to spend £400. Have heard the view that for cruising best thing is to buy sails off a racer and get reefing points added. Wonder can you get sail number of previous owner off satisfactorily – if not might rather spoil the look. BTW – I store main wrapped around boom during the season (April to September) and reckon new sails might be wasted on me. Also I don’t race so speed not crucial,


    Trevor Thompson
    W9002 Mk 2


    Used racing sails are good for, guess what …. for racing. And for racing only.

    Yes, the top of the fleet sells their sails every year and buys new ones to stay on top. Those sails are still good for us lesser racing deities and for club racing in general but they are no good for cruising at all. Why?

    The cloth of racing sails is much lighter than the average plain Dacron sail. Racing sails are coated to harden them and so give a better sail shape. Because of the coating the cloth is lighter as to give them enough flexibility for trimming. Because of the hard coating racing sails must be carefully rolled and cannot be folded or be punched in a bag, the coating will break. Once the coating is broken you are left with a very weak sail that will tear easy. Reefing a racing sail will destroy the coating in an instant so that is out of the question!

    You are much better of with heavy duty, pure Dacron cruising sails that allow a lot of abuse and will last minimal fifteen years but I have seen (and used) thirty year old sails that still had a reasonable shape. In terms of costs per annum a simple Dacron cruising sail is the best choice for a cruiser IMHO. And last but not least plain Dacron sails are very easy to repair and maintain.


    Hi Swiebertje

    Thanks for this. Are there any alternative points of view out there? If buying cruising sails new, does anybody have suggestions for the best maker – given that the cheapest is not usually the best? Is it true that the angle of the batten holders is different on a cruising sail so that the battens line up with the boom to improve reefing neatness? If asking for a custom build are there any opinions on where on the vertical axis the reefing points should be placed and any other modifications to consider. For instance some offer a floatation bag……




    Might be worth looking out for a decent used set, maybe a wanted ad on association or apolloduck?

    There’s a mainsail on eBay at the moment, looks quite old to me though?

    Main problem is there are lots of very old used sails around…


    @Fundoctor wrote:

    If asking for a custom build are there any opinions on where on the vertical axis the reefing points should be placed and any other modifications to consider. For instance some offer a floatation bag……

    The mind of certain sail makers works in mysterious ways, they think: “cruising = cheap”. I had a hard time convincing him otherwise.

    My ideal cruising sails would have many racing options such as:
    – A nice big windows to keep a proper lookout even if hiked out. (Main and Genoa).
    – Bungee cord instead of bolt ropes. (Doesn’t shrink and pulls the sail back when the outhaul is released).
    – A small bullet block sewn to the sail, instead of a simple cringle, as a cunningham hole.
    – (A window at spreader height to look at the Genoa leech tell tales).
    – Proper track slugs just above the goose neck and near the clew for a better sail shape.
    – Measured so they can also be used as (spare) racing sails. (A good sail maker will do this at no extra cost)

    But other then racing sails they would have:
    – Sewn seems for strength and durability (racing sails are cut and melted without seems to minimize drag).
    – Strong, durable, plain Dacron cloth, or better, Dyneema re-enforced Dacron (20% more expensive but hey, we are talking about perfect cruising sails).
    – Reefing points: standard. These are already well away from the battens so they won’t compromise reefing. (The battens can stay in the sail while reefed).
    – Cringles with ball-bungees for storing the reefed part of the sail.
    – An extra reefing bungee close to the luff. They always forget this one which is where the wind hits the stowed part of the sail the most.
    – A buoyancy bag (doubled sail cloth) at the top with a foam insert (can’t spring a leak). Size as per class rules.
    – An unstiched part in the seem or a small cringle at the lowest point of the buoyancy bag to allow water to drain from it.
    – Genoa: Modified to be reef-able with a “Ralph Roberts” furler.

    That’s about it, but I am sure this will trigger others to tell us their ideas of “perfect cruising sails”.

    Colin Parkstone

    And all this for £400.00 ???

    I would think Doc you already know that your budget is small with regards to what you really desire so your best to go back to the secondhand lists and seek out something from that.

    Secondhand sails are not so bad, even racing ones can do the job you want but just ask about the costs for reefs and buoyancy pockets so as to not spend near to a cheaper new sail made for the job you want to use them for.

    Hot cut leaches do soften, but they can be re hot cut to take out the flappy bit and mainsail leaches can be taken in to remove the same also. Its all a mater of how much all these costs mount up to over new.

    Just looked, a row of reefs and a masthead buoyancy at my sail makers would be about a £100.00 inc.

    Also, have you given thought to the fact that a genoa is a large sail with a reefed mainsail and so you would pos need a roller reef for the genoa to balance the two together. Maybe a Midi genoa would work ?

    Again you may ask, how much will i use the sails and is it worth the costs of new.

    Good luck with your choices,


    Hi Farers

    About to put an order in to Edge Sails for new set of cruising sails. Since Jon there seems able to make any reasonable modification, wondering if anyone has any further tips on specifying a new sail – especially the main? Noted Sweibertje wish-list. Mine will be sown, Dacron, x2 reefing lines with cringles at leech a bit higher than at luff, lower baton horizontal, buoyancy bag with inflatable insert (a la Ralph Roberts), drainage hole in buoyancy sleeve. Notes here:

    – Cringles with ball-bungees for storing the reefed part of the sail. [HOW DO BALL BUNGIES WORK – I AM USED TO SHOCK-CORD WITH HOOKS]
    – An extra reefing bungee close to the luff. They always forget this one which is where the wind hits the stowed part of the sail the most. [NOT SURE HOW THAT IS CONFIGURED – ANY CHANCE OF A PHOTO?]

    Would ‘farers agree that a window is not needed in a cruising sail and could cause the sail to be unecessarily weakened?

    Kind regards



    A window is good for visibility BUT it will be much more delicate than a good cruising Dacron.
    Windows are easily cracked/split in racing sails when we attempt to look after them.
    With the abuse of reefing regularly I would expect that windows would give up after a handful of outings unless there is a better window material for cruising than the ones used in racing sails.


    The ball-bungies are very simple. Two lengths of bungee cord lying parallel, joined to balls at the ends. Like this:!BVKB,YQ!2k~%24(KGrHgoOKjQEjlLmVoWOBKRBqVhh9Q~~_35.JPG

    You pass the ball through between the two bungees, and it gets trapped by the tension.
    Much more practical than having hooks flailing around on your sails.

    • Hooks tend to catch anything and everything, balls don’t.
    • Keep the reef parallel to the boom. With a 16:1 purchase on the kicker you may get in trouble with a raised reef. The kicker may not have enough span.
    • The picture shows my balls and also the extra balls-bungee near the goose neck, sewn to the sail.
    • Note that the reefing line is attached to the bottom of the boom. This is important to allow the sail to fold under the reefing line. When the reefing line is attached atop the boom the sail gets crushed by the reefing line.
    • Not shown is the reefing line on the starboard side, it runs aft. The sail is pulled down by the reefing line on the port side of the boom (by the bitter end) and is pulled aft on the other side. The sheave for the reefing line is approx. 2 inches aft of the cringle in its aft most position. This allows sufficient control over the foot and leech



    Hi Swiebertje

    Thanks for that photo. How many reefing cringles do you have on that sail? I have only seen people put shock-cord between the cringles which are linked by hooks that pull the cord round the sail. Am I understanding that your system does not use shock cords at all and that the ball-bungies just go directly vertically down from the cringles. Do you not getting “sagging” of the sail between these points? How many cringles do you advice. Could you explain a little more about this ball-bungie at the very front of the sail? Why do you call this “extra”? Is it not just fitting like the others. If you felt up to a diagram that would be much appreciated,




    Click here
    Pictures in the apendices.

    More reefing stuff


    Thanks Swieb

    Does that arrangement (extra bungie near tack of mainsail) normally mean specifying an additional cringle to the sailmaker?


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