March 16, 2016-Sail Damage
wingssail images-fredrick roswold
Racing sails have a limited lifetime. We know that. It’s been said they will last three years, and ours are eight years old, a long time for a Kevlar/Mylar sail even if they haven’t been used much over 5 seasons. Last season I wasn’t happy with the shape but I thought the cloth was OK. The problem is that the Mylar shrinks and gets brittle. But still, we’ve been hoping ours would hang in there. The replacement cost is prohibitive. New laminated racing sails go for $5,000 to $10,000 each. We can’t even think about that.
Boy was I wrong about them lasting. We had them in the loft for a couple of months and did some reshaping, and that’s when we noticed the Mylar was breaking down. We slapped a bunch of high tech tape on and wondered if we’d get through the season.
Well, the reshaping worked. Those old sails were faster than ever, but right away this season we started to have failures: holes appeared in the panels, cracks showed up on the edges, and seams started to pull out. I was repairing sails after almost every race. The handwriting was on the wall, we’d need new sails, sooner rather than later, at least a mainsail and a genoa.
I got a lot of quotes for new sails. No surprise, we couldn’t afford them. We bought more repair material and spent more time patching them.
No dice, they were toast.
The genoa and the main got to where they looked like they would blow up the next time we used them. I saw a used genoa sail listed at Minney’s, a used sail store in California. It was 18 years old but barely used and the price was right, $347.00. A sail maker went over there and checked it out. “Nice sail”, he said, and it would fit Wings. Surprisingly the Mylar was still good. We bought it and had it shipped to La Cruz and put away the old genoa we’ve had since 2007. Then the #3 jib blew up, disastrously; tore in half with a pop. That was a shocker since that sail was barely used, but I had been worried about it; the cloth seemed tired. We got it fixed but we have no faith in it. Finally the mainsail, shown here, completely disintegrated. We had already started using the Dacron cruising main for practices but we wanted the racing main for the Banderas Bay Regatta. I spent another evening slapping tape on it and sewing. We went out for the first day of Banderas Bay Regatta flying that main. It lasted to the end of the race, and then ten minutes later it disintegrated.
Well, that’s racing.
We will somehow find some replacement sails and be ready for next year.
I wonder how many times we’ll have to go through this.
john pounder - jldigitalmedia
Remembering the golden sails We won races in Singapore, Thailand (King's Cup), the Caribbean, and Mexico with these sails. They have been great.
Click here for a couple more shots of the sail repairs.
Fred & Judy, SV Wings