Recuts are the rage when it comes to proper sail care, and for good reason, as they can extend the life of your sails. If you think a recut is for you, but aren’t sure where to start, here is some insight into the process, what to expect, and how to get the ball rolling.
Recuts should be a regular part of your sail maintenance plan and can be a great alternative to buying new sails. No matter the material or make, aging sails stretch and lose their shape, making it difficult to point, hard to steer, or you might find you just don’t have the same power under sail you once had. Many sailors don’t realize that recuts can bring their sails back to 90 percent of their original shape and extend their life. It has been a common practice with pro programs for years, even to the extent of recutting sails between races. For most sailors though, a recut every few years is just fine and will make a big difference.
If you’re noticing any of the aforementioned issues, or your sails are a few years old, it’s a great time to look into how a recut could help your program and your sail’s overall performance (not to mention your wallet). Here’s how it works:
1. Identify the problem and snap some photos
The first step is to identify the issues you’re having and contact your local loft. If possible, it is ideal to schedule a time for a rep to join you on your boat. This will help the expert understand your issues and the condition of your sail. Sometimes a simple rig tune is all you need to solve your problem. If you think a recut is the right choice for your sail, you’ll need to take pictures of your sail’s flying shape, both full and drawing. Click here for a great guide on how to get proper sail shape photos. The next step is to bring the photos and the sail to your loft for examination.
PRO TIP: Even if you don’t think you’re in need of a recut yet or your sails are new, it is still a good idea to get a good set of photos at the beginning and end of each season. These create a record that your sailmaker can use to help monitor the condition of your sail and also help troubleshoot other performance issues you might be having.
The sailmaker will look over both your photos and sail to make sure the sail warrants a recut. If you already had a sailmaker go for a ride with you, some of the sail evaluation has already happened, but the sailmaker still needs to get close and personal with the sail on the loft floor. If the sails are too old (remember age is measured in hours used, not just years), there might not be enough life left in them to make a recut a viable or cost-effective option. If the material is still stable and has just been stretched, a recut can bring it back to within 90 percent of like-new performance.
During this stage of the process, the sailmaker will make sure there aren’t other issues to address, such as luff and leech, hanks, and webbing. The sailmaker will also look for any signs of chafing or stretch that are the result of an issue with the rig or sail handling. Once the sail is recut, the sailmaker may make suggestions on use that will help prevent such issues from reappearing. For example, if your leech cord isn’t tight enough, the excess luffing will cause the leech tape to crack. Simple fixes like this can go a long way toward making your sails last longer and perform better.
3. Measure twice, cut once.
Once you get to this stage, it’s really quite simple. A sail designer will evaluate the photos of the sail using state-of-the-art software and provide the service team with specs so that they can determine the best recut method to remove the sail’s excess material and bring it back to life. Then the service team will rebuild the sail and make any other agreed-upon fixes or updates, such as a new window or handling system.
4. Back to sailing
The turnaround time for a recut is often faster than that of getting a new sail, meaning you’ll be back on the water sooner. If you live in a seasonal locale, fall is the best time to bring your sails in for a recut so that your season won’t be disrupted. After the recut is complete, you’ll be amazed by the improvement in your boat’s stability, your ability to sail closer to the wind, your overall accuracy while reaching, and the speed of the boat under sail.
No matter the type or size of boat you have, we’re happy to answer any questions about the process and help you get started.