[Public-List] Blown out sails OK for crusing

crufone at comcast.net crufone at comcast.net
Sun Jan 9 06:21:45 PST 2011

Hello all, 

I never could understand the logic that sails which were too worn out to use for racing would still be OK to use for cruising or day-sailing. Why would anyone want to subject the boat, skipper and crew to attempting to sail anywhere with blown out sails? 

My understanding of blown-out used-up sails is that as they become worse and worse they loose their intended function to provide lift and drive to propel the boat forward. They cause the boat to heel excessively and drive off to leeward. 

Because the Alberg 30 is initially tender and stiffens up with some moderate heel it seems to me that blown-out sails actually place more stress on the rig for the same drive forward than new sails. 

I recently purchased a, new to me, but only slightly used 150 Genoa for my Typhoon. I was concerned that the larger sail would be even more over powering for the boat than the blown-out 110 head sail which came with the boat. To my surprise and delight sailing in the same wind conditions the larger but better shaped head sail provided better balance, more drive and less heel than the smaller blown-out sail.  The Typhoon sails like a totally different boat and with much greater pleasure for me the skipper. This got me to thinking about all those ads I see for used sails...............................which basically state used-up for racing but OK for cruising or day-sailing. 

Makes me think that sails are akin to motor oil for your vehicle. When the oil is used up, i.e, 3K or 5K miles then it is used up and not any good for it's original purpose. One would not intentionally run the used-up oil for another 5K miles knowing the potential damage to be caused to the expensive vehicle motor. So why would sailors run their sails another five years beyond their useful life and cause undue stress and fatigue to their expensive boat and rig? 

I know that I am preaching to the choir on this one, but this whole thing hit me like a tonne of bricks the other day while sailing. Seems to me that used-up sails are OK to use to make Tote bags and painting drop cloths, but are not OK to use for any type of sailing whether it be racing, cruising or day-sailing. Anyone out there have additional thoughts on this subject ? 

Michael #133 

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