Used Sails: Discover the Value of Used Sails

Used Sails

If you’re like me, then you would like to extract the maximum value from the sails you have before replacing them. Like everything in a sailing vessel, the used sails will eventually break down and require repair or change. Even the most expensive sails could get severely damaged due to the rough sea.

The sails can last only several years, or even more than 10 years, based on the frequency of usage and the structure of the sail as well as the sail’s conditions and the conditions in which it is placed. In this blog, we will discuss several of the most frequent issues with old symmetrical sails, and how to fix these issues.

Lowered Luff Cables

The luff cord is a cord that is affixed to the top edge of the sail. The sail relies on the luff cord to keep an entire shape as well as efficiently distribute the load across the sail. One most common problems with used sails is the luff rope shrinks with the course. There have been several sailmakers who have attempted to create the luff cords from longer durable and stronger materials like North Sails’ Helix luff cord. The result is a longer-lasting and more shaped sails, which ultimately lead to more efficient sailing. If the luff cord that is on your sail is shrinking to the extent that it’s inaccessible the most effective option is to replace it with a fresh one.

The Used Sails Deterioration

Many sailors now buy laminated sails, particularly those looking for speed and performance that is improved in the water. In general, sails made of laminate can stand up easily to certain levels of use. However, when using laminated sails, it is particularly important to remove the old sails and repair them at the first signs of delamination. The damages can be accelerated especially when in the sea. 

The layout of the yarn and its construction of a sail that is laminated is less durable than conventional canvas and even tiny tears can be quickly spread. In the case of minor tears, it’s easier to apply ultrasound patches to fix the area damaged and stop the spread. The process is quick and straightforward since it doesn’t require sewing.

If the yarns of the sail have been completely cut in any way, you’ll probably have to replace the cloth that is the same type and weight to create the correct repair. In the case of more serious delamination, the sailmaker will require needles and threads to stitch patches on or send the sail to the sailmaker’s shop for the most reliable repair.

Hooked on Genoa, Leech

In used sails, the leech at the genoa may have the habit of curving. The problem may be due to two issues. A possible reason behind the leech becoming hooked is because the line of leech was tightened too much. To fix this issue, slack the leech line to its maximum and then tighten it up in tiny increments until it curls again. If this does not resolve the problem, the code zero sail will likely become stretched out and worn. If the fabric of the sail which is in front of the leech has a greater stretch than the leech and the leech itself, then the sail must be removed and repaired by the sailmaker.

Cracked Battens

A common problem with old sails is the broken battens. A majority of mainsails as well as a lot of racing jibs are dependent on battens to keep a good form and to limit the possibility of flogging moderate wind. If the sails flutter quickly and then hit the rigging or mast, the battens could break in, particularly with old sails than with battens made of wood.

However, the good news is that it’s usually simple to fix. Simply drop the sail, and take the batten out of the pocket. Some sails allow you to remove the batten without cutting through the sail and on other sails in which the batten remains connected to the sail, it may be necessary to cut the edge of the pocket to release the batten. 

In certain cases there is a possibility of having the batten repaired with a short stint however if it’s damaged at multiple points then you’ll likely have to replace the whole batten. It’s common for me to carry more than one batten to swiftly repair any broken ones. The good news is that the majority of new battens are made of robust materials, which make them more resistant to damage.

Pinching on Boats

If you’re an avid sailer and are experienced in dealing with chaffing especially when you take many offshore voyages. The majority of sails rub against spreaders or rigging throughout an expedition, and with time, they begin to wear out the sail. It’s essential to inspect regularly the used sails to ensure that you’re able to spot areas of the sail susceptible to chafing and then apply patches immediately. 

If you apply the sail patch or stitch an additional piece of material onto each section of the sail in which the chaffing is occurring, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be capable of extending the lifespan of your sails in the bags  for several years.

The UV Layer Peels Off

One of the biggest problems with used sails that are furled by rollers is that the UV protection layer peels away. The sail can be left exposed to the sun, even when the sails are in the furling position, which means it will eventually break down. 

The UV shield protects other sails from being damaged by the sun, but because it spends longer exposed to the sun than the remainder of the sail and is exposed to sun, it could need to be replaced or repaired more quickly than the rest part of the sail. The best way to avoid the risk of damage is to tear your sails away and place them away after you sail for more than a couple of weeks. If you notice a portion of the UV cover peeling away you might be able just to sew it to its original position, however, in the event of significant damage it’s likely to replace the entire UV cover. 

This could be accomplished in the home, or with an expert sailmaker. There are times when I have to go sailing on a tight budget, and I’ve leaned on used sails to get out in the water as often as possible. The sails that are used will eventually get worn out and develop problems However, if you take good maintenance of them, and keep in front of any issues, you’ll keep the old sails in good condition for years to come.


Used sails provide sailors looking for high-quality performance without breaking their budget an economical and long-term solution. Sailors can find old genoa sails that meet their expectations by carefully considering factors like quality, condition and compatibility when searching second-hand inventory. Furthermore, sailing professionals who opt for secondhand sails not only save costs but contribute towards sustainable development by decreasing wasteful production practices within sailing as a sport as a whole by recycling material waste into new sails, hence further contributing towards green sailing!

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