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Youth Corner: Make Your Dinghy Sails Last Longer

Taking proper care of your sails is a good habit to get into early on in your sailing career. Here are Quantum expert's five key tips to help you keep your dinghy sails flying fast.

Nice and smooth - Cooper Gerber does a perfect job of rolling his Opti sail after a race on Grand Traverse Bay. Photo by Courtney Michalik Kent/The Compass Points Here.

1.  KEEP YOUR SAIL OUT OF THE SUN WHEN NOT IN USE

The sun can hurt your sails, just like it can hurt you if you’re not wearing sunscreen. Sadly there isn’t sunscreen for your sails, but you can keep them safe from the sun by putting them away as soon as you’re done using them. If they need to dry, dry them in the shade or inside whenever possible.

2. KEEP YOUR SAILS CLEAN

After the sun, the next worst enemies of your sail are salt, dirt and debris. Make sure you wash your sails when they get dirty. If you sail in saltwater, you will want to rinse them off regularly after sailing. When saltwater dries, the water evaporates and leaves the salt behind. The salt from sea water is similar to the salt on your table; it’s gritty and isn’t good for your sail!

3.  CHECK YOUR SAILS 

A couple of times a season, take extra time to look closely at your sails. It’s a good idea to do this after a really windy day or if you capsized and your sail went underwater. Start by finding a clean, dry place where you can lay the sail flat and then carefully examine every inch of it, looking for any tears or places where the threads are coming loose. It might only look like a small tear, but when the wind gets strong on the water it could become a big problem! If sail inspection is new to you, ask a parent, coach, or your local sailmaker to help.

 4.  WATCH OUT FOR SHARP THINGS

Whenever your sail is out of the bag, keep an eye out for anything that might catch and rip it. Watch for loose nails or old fish hooks on docks, and check the ground for anything sharp before laying out your sail to roll.

5.  ROLL IT AND BAG IT

Roll your sail and put it back in the bag to protect it as soon as you’re done sailing. As you roll it, make sure there aren’t any wrinkles or creases. Once it’s in the bag keep it straight and don’t bend it. Store it on a flat surface where it isn’t too hot or too cold. A flat sail is a happy sail! It’s also important that your sail is dry when you put it away; otherwise, it can grow mold and mildew, which is not only stinky, but also bad for your sail. 

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