Friday, 30 October 2015

Winter Sail Care

Winterising Sails

As we approach the time of the year when most people are thinking about laying-up their boats for the winter it is important to give some thought to your sails. All too often we see furling genoas being left up all winter whilst the boat is ashore; the same goes for mainsails that are left on underneath their sail covers. This of course means that the sails are at the mercy of the elements for extended periods of time; not only that but the tightly bound and folded sails combined with a damp salty environment become perfect breeding grounds for mould and mildew. We strongly recommend therefore that if the boat is out of use for any period of time, especially over what can be a long and harsh winter at the very least they should be unbent and stored somewhere dry. If you are in a position to rinse and dry the sails yourself and inspect them closely prior to folding them away that’s great but if not we are happy to take care of the whole process for you.

Sail repairs and service by professionals

Regular maintenance of your sails by skilled sailmakers can significantly enhance their working life, saving money for the owner and ensuring reliability when it is needed most. Sails operate in a hostile environment where sail and pollutants can cause serious damage to even the best kept sails. Similarly, constant wear & tear requires careful repair and maintenance with an end of season overhaul being essential for the longevity of your sail wardrobe. It is important that any damage, no matter how small is repaired as quickly as possible in order to prevent further damage occurring.

Recuts and retrofits

A simple recut can improve shape and give a new lease of life to a ‘tired’ sail. With improved shape comes improved performance and handling, something that is well worth thinking about whilst the sail is off the boat anyway. Retrofit extras include UV protection, luff flatteners for shape retention when genoas are partially furled, changing from hanks to luff foils, altering batten configurations, adding reefs to mainsails etc.

Sail Laundry

OneSails recommend that any sails that are salty or damp get sent to a sail laundry prior to winter storage. The laundry process will remove any salt and any other airborne pollutants which may harm the sails if left for any period of time. This in turn helps to prolong the overall life of the sail. It also has the added benefit of making the sails easier to work on if any service work is required, and means that they will be dry when they are put away for the winter. If they are put away whilst damp, they are more likely to attract mould or mildew and will not be in a pleasant state when you come to bend them back on next season.

The specialist sail laundries are essentially large warehouse type buildings. The sails are cleaned by a variety of processes. A few older sails that have either gone soft with age or which have a soft feel by design get washed in large industrial washing machines. There is very little (if any) in the way of detergents or bleaches that gets added at this stage, the sails are simply rinsed to remove any salt. The vast majority of sails and in particular racing sails don’t go into the machines. They are laid flat on a smooth concrete floor and hosed down with fresh water from a pressure washer with a special attachment. Whilst the sail is on the floor any spot cleaning is done to remove any green algae, mildew, grease etc. At this stage some chemicals such as mild detergent solutions will be used where necessary. If chemicals have been used, the sails are then rinsed again. Once the sails have been cleaned they are then hung up to dry before being folded and returned to the sailmaker.

Whilst we highly recommend sail laundry for any sails that are being stored for any length of time, the process does have certain limitations. Although the sails will be returned from the laundry dry, salt free and in an ideal state to be worked on or stored, the process is not a cure all that will leave the sails looking ‘as good as new’. Stains such as mildew, grease and rust may be removed if they are treated straight away but will stain the sail permanently if left for any period of time. Other typical stains are from diesel or machine oil. These cannot be removed fully and will always leave a stain though laundering them will remove any smell and surface residue. It should also be noted that there is no guarantee that stains including mildew, mould or rust will be removed during the laundry process.

At OneSails GBR we are pleased to be able to offer a full range of sail repair and maintenance services, please feel free to contact us to see what we can do for you and how we can help to extend the life of your sails. 

Thursday, 16 April 2015

OneSails GBR Racing Spinnakers

The sail that is undergoing the most significant development today is the spinnaker. With the help of better fabrics and ever improving sailmaking technology, spinnakers are more efficient both downwind and also closer to the wind with angles as close as 45° apparent being possible in some cases.

The optimisation of a particular spinnaker or inventory is as much to do with subtleties in shaping as it is for overall area. OneSails make a broad range of high performance spinnakers for racing boats, symmetric and asymmetric and it is important for the owner that every sail is customised for a particular boat with specific angles and windspeeds in mind in order to give truly superior performance.

It wasn’t that long ago that a typical 3 sail spinnaker inventory consisted of a ‘light runner’ (0.5oz), an ‘A/P’ (0.75oz) and a small flat ‘heavy’ (1.5oz). The cloth weights that were used to describe these sails bore little resemblance to the actual weights. Nowadays many more cloth weights are available with perhaps as many as 10 different weights available between 0.4oz and 1.5oz. The cloths are also available in different styles each of which will be more or less appropriate to a given end use.

Towards the end of the 1990’s many boats began replacing their traditional symmetric flat heavy spinnakers with ‘mini reacher’ asymmetrics, more commonly known as A5’s. These quickly developed a reputation as a real utility sail and were able to point higher than the other symmetrics in light airs, were better at beam reaching in moderate airs and could still be flown off a conventional pole as a ‘chicken chute’ in heavier airs. Since then asymmetric development in particular has progressed rapidly and nowadays it is commonplace for most symmetrically rigged boats to also carry an asymmetric or two to cater for particular conditions.

In recent seasons Code Zero’s have become very popular especially on the more modern boats that carry relatively small non-overlapping headsails. These boats are often underpowered in lighter airs and on beam reaches that are too close to fly a conventional chute. Here the Code Zero comes into its own; in very light airs, 4-5 kts TWS for example, a boat with a Code Zero will point virtually as high as a boat with a conventional headsail but with much more area and a far better VMG. As with the A5 mentioned above, the Code Zero is also very useful at broader angles in more moderate airs when the boat would be over pressed when flying a full sized spinnaker.

The graphics below provide an indication as to how various spinnakers might fit into a particular inventory. Bear in mind that these graphics are a guide only but nonetheless provide an indication as to which sails might be used to cover a given range of conditions and angles. Clearly a smaller inventory than those shown would either leave more gaps or else mean that the remaining sails in the inventory are having to do more work or are less than optimal. For example, removing the S1.5 from the symmetric inventory doesn’t necessarily mean that the S2 can’t cover the gap it would leave but it wouldn’t do as good a job. On the other hand, if you want to sail at a TWA of 70° in 4kts TWS your only chance is to fly a Code Zero, the other spinnakers simply won’t get you there! It is also possible of course to have a mixture of symmetrics and asymmetrics onboard in order to cover all the bases. At OneSails our design teams have experience of designing custom sails for boats ranging from America’s Cup to the smallest of One-Designs and it is this breadth of experience that means that we can offer you the right advice and make sure that you get the right sails for your boat and your specific needs. Please don’t hesitate to contact us to discuss all your downwind requirements.

 Spinnaker nomenclature:

S1 - Light Reacher
S1.5 - Light Runner
S2 - Medium Runner
S4 - Heavy Runner
S6 - Reduced Area Runner

Note: Odd numbers are reachers, even numbers are runners

CZ - Tight Reacher
A1 - Light Reacher
A1.5 - Light Runner
A2 - Medium Runner
A3 - Medium Reacher
A4 - Heavy Runner
A5 - Mini (reduced area) Reacher