Sails

Set forth to seek new lands or embark on a pleasure cruise with a sail for your schooner, dinghy, or yacht. As the world’s most renowned method of marine propulsion, nothing cuts the waves and carries the wind quite like a sail.

What material are sails made out of?

Sail material, called sailcloth, is usually made of a blend of synthetic fibers, with certain fibers, like Dacron, better suited for mainsails, Genoas, and jibs. Some lower-end sails are made from polyester or nylon, while top-of-the-line sailcloth is made from high-tech carbon fiber. Some sailcloths make use of mylar in combination with Dacron, Kevlar, or carbon fiber for a laminated finish.

How do you install a new sail?

Before setting out on the high seas, you’ll want to make sure that you’re properly equipped to catch the breeze. Installing a new sail on a small sailboat is a simple process that takes about half an hour and which shouldn’t require any tools. Follow these simple steps to set out sailing in no time:

  1. Ensure that the rudder is properly connected and attach the tiller to the rudder.
  2. Attach the jib halyard at the bow of the vessel and hank the jib on the forestay.
  3. Attach the mainsail to the halyard, which is the device used to raise the mainsail.
  4. Secure the bottom corners of the sailcloth, called the tack and the clew, to their proper positions.
  5. After securing the mainsail to the mast, you’re ready to fully raise your mainsail and start sailing.
What is a batten on a sail?

A batten is a flexible piece of material that is inserted into a sail to preserve the shape of the airfoil or curved air-catching surface when filled with wind. Serving a similar function to the poles in a tent, some battens are still wooden, but most are made from fiberglass, vinyl, or carbon fiber.

What does luff mean in sail specifications?

Often referred to in measurements of feet or inches, the luff of a sail is the measurement from the top to the bottom of the front or fore side of the sailcloth. Leech refers to the opposite side of the sailcloth, the aft vertical edge. Luffing is when a sail is turned in the direction of the wind and begins to flap, which is a natural part of the process of tacking.

What are the different types of sails?

While a triangular mainsail is the most common type of wind catcher available for your marine craft, some boats and watercraft make use of different airfoil propulsion systems than the standard mainsail. A spinnaker, for instance, behaves much like a parachute by receiving the full force of the wind head-on. However, spinnakers almost completely lack directional control and simply take you where the wind leads. Traditional mainsails can easily be turned head-on or tangentially to the wind to offer total directional control.