The Winter period is the best time for getting your sails serviced writes Barry Hayes of UK Sailmakers Ireland.
Whether it’s your car, your own health, or your sails, it is no secret that an annual check-up and service is the best way to protect your investment and avoid trouble down the line.
Our sail loft in Crosshaven, Co Cork, has been a sail service centre for over forty years. Thousands of sails have been on our floor and it’s not often we see something we haven’t encountered before. We can spot issues before they emerge as serious problems. This will not only save you money – but also time. No one wants their sails on our floor when they should be on your boat out sailing!
Depending on the type of sailing you are doing an ‘annual service’ can consist of many different things. Some of you may even ask “do I really need to?” The short answer is –yes you do – let me explain why.
"It is no secret that an annual check-up and service is the best way to protect your investment"
If you’re a club racer then you’re the most likely to be asking the “do I really need to?” question. In fact, your sails will likely benefit more than anyone else from a good annual service.
When we receive your sails in our loft we give them a full check over. We check all luff tapes for tears, check common wear spots such as where it interacts with spreaders and stanchions, check for missing tell tails, and identify if there are any unknown causes for the problem which is presenting itself on the floor.
For example; we see many luff tape repairs throughout the season and during winter service. Luff tapes don’t just tear. If they tear then there is a reason why. Sometimes it can be a simple mistake of sheeting on too early or skipping the feeder – but often there is a problem which can be solved on the boat. We discuss potential issues with our customers and present solutions to avoid damage occurring in the future.
While we have your sails we can re-measure them for IRC. This can lead to a nice reduction in your IRC handicap upon your revalidation for the 2020 season.
Our expert staff pick up details which the untrained eye would overlook. Leverage this experience to protect your investment and maximize your time on the water come next spring.
If cruising or day sailing is your thing then you likely have a UV strip on your headsail and plenty of covers, sprayhoods, dodgers etc.
One of the worst things you can do for your sails is to leave them on your boat for a prolonged period of time – even during the sailing season. If you are not going to be using your boat for a month or more then take down the sails and store them aboard. If you only wear your good flamingo shirt to weddings, and you don’t have one for two months, you aren’t going to leave it hanging on the line!
Exposure to the sun degrades your sails and covers – this is simply a fact of life. The UV light breaks down the fabric and especially the stitching. During an annual check-up, we inspect your entire UV cover and its stitching. A quick run through a sewing machine now is much more cost-effective than having to replace an entire torn UV strip after an Irish winter storm. The same goes for your covers. Deliver them all to us together for a full assessment.
When you are packing your boat up for the season you should also be thinking about where you are going to store your sails. Definitely take them down, we’ve all seen furled headsails ragged by a winter storm, and take them off the boat and have them stored properly in a cool, dry, rodent-free place – our sail loft for example!
Even if you have your own space to store your sails; get them to the loft first. We see if every spring – ‘best intentions’ of getting your sails to us during the winter were packed away with them. Out of sight out of mind. You then have to join the long line to get your small issue fixed when you could be out enjoying your sailing.
We have a purpose-built storage area in our loft where we can keep your sails comfortable until you need them. We can also store your racing sails rolled – extending their life and keeping them nice and crisp.
Laundry & Re-Proofing
When we have your sails and covers for service we also consider whether they are due a wash. Every year we are asked to replace boom covers and sprayhood when really all that is needed is a good wash, reproofing, and a few stitches here and there.
Sails and covers are washed to remove and green mildew and general grime from the fabric. Covers are then re-waterproofed to give them an entirely new lease of life.
Now is the time!
Our schedule is filling up fast after a busy season on the water. Now is the time to get in contact and arrange your winter service. Let us ensure your sails are in top health and ready for your 2020 sailing season. Contact us at [email protected] or call our service manager Cleo on 021 483 1505.