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  • #4550

    I bought my Wayfarer (mk1 grp) 12 months ago, and have titivated it into seaworthyness, and have had a fair amount of use out of it. It had 2 mainsails and 2 jibs with it, both sets seemed equally wrinkled and ragged, yet the boat seems to go along well enough.

    My question is, when is a sail deemed no good? I know that for microlight aircraft they do a “betzt test” which involves piercing the dacron with a bent needle attached to a spring balance, applying a certain amout of pull and hoping the sail doesn’t rip.

    I need to get some reefing eyes fitted and wondered how to choose which of my mainsails to use.



    Modern sails seem to last a very long time without ‘blowing out’. Replacing them really becomes a matter of personal taste when you can longer put up with the performance. If you are happy to potter about and sail everywhere on a beam reach, you could probably get away with never replacing your sails 🙂

    It cost me about £100 to have two lines of reefs put into a mainsail… so I wouldn’t spend that money on a truly tired old bag of a sail, but maybe save up and get a new one with reefs included.

    Colin Parkstone

    Good points Disgrace, cloth has improved much and it also has less chance of rotting like older cloth did which takes away one of the problems that made sails older faster.

    One of the good points about new sails are that they work better, help you point well and give you more control of the sail for all kinds wind strengths as the shape can be changed.

    Older sails take a shape of their own which is not always the shape you want, in stronger winds the sail fills and rounds more which is not the shape or fullness you want in strong winds as flatter is best. ( or a reef)

    So performance is not only for the racing fleet, being able to point in that close river or creek can save so many unwanted tacks.

    A well made modern cloth sail need not be crisp and need rolling, modern cloth comes in a softer type for that time when you bring the sail down into a crowded boat and not like the racer a nice foreshore to pull you boat onto so you can bring the sail down under control.

    One thing I do notice when people buy a new crisp sail is that they sometimes just dont get it!
    They have sailed with a soft, easy to read sail which is has been a very forgiving shape and often they have had for years. A new sail is hard and stable and often seem hard to read, its new and the shape is how it should be. So your need to give it time to learn about its shape and how to make it work! Bit like a new car when you have had a Morris Minor for years.
    One thing you can ask a sail maker to look at is the luff rope. They shrink at a differing rate than the sail cloth so often what happens is the cloth becomes full but is pulled out of a fair shape by the luff rope which will be short on shrink.
    By renewing or letting the luff rope free at the tack your sail will be free from the tight luff rope and take the shape of the sail, rather than the other way round. It will not be the same as a new sail but it may help. Best though to cost all these changes to an old sail, could be near to a new sail price in modern cloth!



    Thanks for the comments, I’ve had a look at the sails that I’ve not been using, i.e. my spares, and now feel a bit stupid.

    The cloth is stiffer and less creased. The mainsail has a line of reefing eyes fitted, saving me the bother! I’ve also noticed though that the “spare soon to become preferred” mainsail is smaller than the standard size, the foot is about 200mm less. Any ideas why that might be?

    Colin Parkstone

    Is the rest of the sail the same lengths, luff and batten positions? If the luff is short then it could be that an amount has been chopped off the foot and so the foot length was shortened.
    Has it got a makers name tag on it, no need to say who.
    Sometimes sails made by an amateur may not be to the class sizes.
    Otherwise, maybe it did not fit the bag 😉


    The leech is about 150mm shorter, the luff is the same length. I guess the boom will be a tad higher, not a bad thing if you ask my skull! It seems to be a Wayfarer sail, it has the boat number and the proper logo on it.

    Also the “better” jib has no plastic clips to attach to the forestay, and has a stainless steel rope as the luff. I guess this will be fine to use?



    #11438 wrote:

    Also the “better” jib has no plastic clips to attach to the forestay, and has a stainless steel rope as the luff. I guess this will be fine to use?

    If you have a wire or dyneema halyard, and a means of tensioning it (highfield lever, muscle box) then yes this will work just grand and you will fly upwind 🙂
    If your halyard is cheap stretchy rope and you have no mechanical advantage to help tension it, then you will suffer from a saggy luff.

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