No Loft is Too Far Away: Shipping Sails for Service

While Quantum Sails has lofts all over the world, not everyone is lucky enough to have one in their backyard. Fortunately that shouldn’t stop anyone from receiving top of the line service. While shipping sails in for service may seem a little daunting, we've got a few tips and tricks to make boxing up your sails simple and easy.

With more than fifty years of sailing experience, Justin Wright has worked with his share of sailmakers and sail lofts. When a sixty mile-an-hour microburst trashed the cover on his genoa, he knew he’d need professional services again. This time, however, he decided to call on Quantum Sails.

Wright needed the genoa cover for his Catalina 28 repaired, so he started looking for a sail loft near his home in Ipswitch, Massachusetts. Unsuccessful, he went online to find a Quantum loft, since his sails are Quantum sails. Wright filled in the ‘Contact Us’ form on the Quantum Sails website, then prepared himself to wait. “Usually you get a response from one of those forms in twenty-four hours,” he said. “What I got was a response in twenty minutes. It was extraordinary.”

Wright’s inquiry was routed to the Quantum Newport loft which responded with exactly what was needed to provide an accurate quote. Wright replied right away, and within one day had an estimate for his sail repair. “It was pretty extraordinary, the speed and detail of the response.”

Getting the sail to the loft was as easy as boxing the sail and printing the label provided by Quantum. The loft arranged for the package to be picked up at Wright’s home.

Boxing your sails can seem daunting, but we have some tips for you.

How to Ship Your Sails

Following is a step-by-step guide to packing your sail. The first step is to find a suitable box, then fold the sails. This avoids unnecessary folding and creasing of your sail. Obviously, you need to use some judgment to make sure the box is big enough, but the rule of thumb is, the longer and more tube-like the better. 

The maximum size guidelines for selecting a box for UPS and FedEx are as follows:

Max length: 108”
Max Length + Girth (tape measure wrapped around the box): 165”

There are two ways to fold a sail. The standard “brick method,” and what sailmakers call a “tri-fold and roll method”. The latter’s advantage puts fewer creases in your sail, although the creases may be deeper. The “brick method” lends itself well to fitting multiple sails into a box. With any method you use, the trick is to fold the sails immediately before you ship them, and unpack and unfold them as soon as they arrive – minimizing harmful creasing. The less time a sail spends folded, the quicker the creases shake out. 

Tri-Fold and Roll Method

This method is especially useful when you have a smaller sail, a long and narrow box, or if the sail contains non-removable battens. Start by laying the sail out flat, and fold the tack towards the clew. Then fold the tack back again towards its natural position, so you have three even folds roughly the width of the length of the box you plan to use.

Be very careful not to fold the sail on a window. Sometimes it is tricky to match the size of the folds with the length of the box; try to make the folds slightly narrower than the length of the box (this will become important when you roll the sail). It may be difficult to fold the sail in line with the box without folding a window. In this case, a shorter box may work better, as seen in the picture.  Alternatively, you narrow the folds to miss the windows, and cut the box down later.

It is important to note here that you DO NOT intentionally crease the sail as you flake it, or even after you flake it.  The sail will find its natural crease as you roll it in step two.  This serves you well if you have to re-flake the sail, because it does not fit into the box. If, at any point, you notice you are headed down a path where it will not fit, it is better to stop and start over.

Once the sail is in its tri-folded configuration, start rolling up from the bottom of the sail.  Two people make this job significantly easier.  You can expect the sail to get a little wider as you roll it, this is okay.  If the folds you began with start to move now, that is okay as well.  Keep rolling and allow the sail to get a little bit wider, as opposed to forcing it into a shape. 

Brick Method

When it comes to bricking sails, the big secret is to make the folds the size of the widest part of the box. This allows for the fewest creases in the sail, and also makes it easier to miss folding windows.  

Once you have determined the first fold width (horizontal folds), continue flaking the sail while keeping an even width, until the sail is completely folded. You may have to shorten one flake to avoid a fold on the spreader window.


Once the sail is flaked, then line up the sail with the shortest end of the box to determine how wide your vertical folds need to be. Then fold the sail end over end for the vertical folds.


In most circumstances, we encourage customers to keep their battens and not ship them to the loft, but if circumstances require you to send your battens here’s what we recommend. 

Ideally you will have a box that is big enough to fit the battens lying flat along the bottom. If your battens don’t fit flat, you can bend them, but you must put caps over the batten tips. If you don’t, the battens cut through and push out of the box. The simple solution, also pictured here, is placement of a plastic cap over the batten ends, like the one found on a can of spray paint. If the battens still don't fit in the sail box, or the bending is too substantial, ship them in a separate box built for their size and shape.

Cutting down the box

If the box is the correct size, it is much more likely to survive the trip intact while protecting the sails. If too much extra space exists, use a sharpie to draw a line where the box should be folded. Then cut vertically down the box on the corners to create your four flaps.


Next, run a sharp object along the sharpie line to break the inside of the box, but do not cut completely through it. Now the box will fold nicely to keep the sail packed tightly. Your last step will be to tape the box closed.


Shipping sails can seem a little daunting; but by following these tips and tricks, your sails can be safely and easily boxed, shipped and repaired almost as easily as taking them down the street to a local sail loft. We can email you a "call tag" service label if needed; just send us the pickup zip code, weight, and dimensions of the box. Another option is taking the package to your local FedEx.

Once Wright sent his sail in for repairs, it took about a week to get it back (mind you depending on the repair and the season timeline will vary). What he got back was a new looking sail. “All the edges had been repaired, and the new fabric they put in it didn’t look repaired, it looked new,” said Wright. “It was like nothing had ever happened.”

Fill out our Service Form or call one of our lofts to arrange shipping your sails for service.

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The Discussion

Doug Burtner
Doug Burtner

Nice Article Randy. All good stuff.