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10 Things You Can Do to Make Your Sails Last Longer

June 15th, 2017

sailcare 10 Things You Can Do to Make Your Sails Last Longer

By Quantum Sails

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

If you have furling systems, this may be just a matter of furling sails when not in use. For non-furling sails, this means covering or stowing sails. There are cover options for both mainsails and headsails, allowing the sail to stay rigged and protected between uses. When no cover is available, sails should be removed, flaked, bagged and stowed below deck or off the boat.

2. SUN COVERS: SEWN-ON PROTECTION. 

Most owners use sewn-on sun covers to protect furled sails. Sunbrella and WeatherMax are the fabrics commonly used for sun covers. For racer-cruisers and some racing sails like furling code zeros, there are lighter weight options such as UV-treated Dacron®. While there is a gain in weight savings, these materials are not inherently UV resistant. Over time the UV treatment can wear off, with the lifespan of the treatment affected by boat location and amount of time in the sun. In high exposure areas, treated covers may have a lifespan of only a couple of seasons.

All sun covers should be inspected regularly and repaired if damaged. Generally speaking, covers should be re-stitched every three years or so to prevent more extensive damage to the fabric that can occur from flogging due to compromised stitching.

To provide maximum protection for your sails, sun covers require care and maintenance. Remember, if you can see the sailcloth below the cover…so can the sun! Click here to read more about keeping your sails safe from UV rays.

3.  KEEP YOUR SAILS CLEAN.

After sun, the second-worst enemy of any sail is salt; but other types of dirt and debris can be just as damaging. Periodic sail washing is key to maintaining your sails. A couple common-sense rules apply to frequency: 1) a sail that has been exposed to saltwater should be washed sooner rather than later, and 2) all other varying degrees of grime should be removed when possible. A genoa or staysail probably needs washing, or at least a rinse, more frequently than a mainsail that is stowed under a cover on the boom or furled when not in use. Not sure if your sails are salty? Run a finger along the foot and have a taste…you’ll know right away!

4.  HIDE THEM FROM THE ELEMENTS.

Sailmakers generally refer to the life of a sail in hours or seasons, rather than years. The lifespan is affected by the amount of time sailing and the level of care given to the sails. In the mid-Atlantic region, the main sailing season can begin in early spring and extend late into the fall. A sailing season in the upper Midwest, for example, is much shorter, thus extending the life of a sail. The lifespan of sails that spend the sailing season furled on your headstay, in your mast or boom, or left on the boat to endure the frigid months of winter, will be much shorter than the life of sails that are properly protected or stowed.

If you know your sails are going to be sitting idle on the boat in a marina for at least a month or more during a sailing season, you can extend sail life by taking the sails off of your boat and stowing them. If your schedule prevents you from doing this personally, contact your local Quantum loft for sail removal and storage – part of our full array of sail care services.

5.  INSPECT YOUR SAILS REGULARLY AND HAVE AN EXPERT DO SO, TOO.

At least once-a-year sails should get a check-up. To do this yourself, find a dry place in good light where you can lay them flat, then work your way over every inch of the sail, looking for trouble spots such as abrasion or loose stitching. Small problems can turn into bigger problems later, so be sure to note even the smallest details. Alternatively, you can drop off your sails at a nearby Quantum loft for our multi-point inspection. Even simpler, with one call we can handle sail removal, transportation and inspection for one sail or your whole inventory.

6.  TAPE UP THAT TURNBUCKLE!

If you’ve ever scraped your finger on a piece of hardware, then you know it’s sharp enough to damage your sail. Even seemingly blunt objects (like a spreader) can damage sails on a tack, so take a look around (and up) to see what can or should be covered to protect your sails. If you have an extra piece of spinnaker cloth, wipe it across every surface of your boat and rigging. If it snags, put some tape on it. Rigging tape, self-fusing silicone tape, leather and other protective coverings are relatively inexpensive ways to protect your sails.

7.  READ THE WRITING ON THE LEECH.

Even a well-protected spreader-tip or navigation light can wear a sail tack-after-tack. For these areas, a spreader-patch (or navigation light-patch, etc.) might be the answer. Quantum service experts use a variety of materials for these abrasion-resistant patches, ranging from pressure-sensitive-adhesive-backed Kevlar for a racing genoa to Sunbrella® cloth for cruising sails.

8.  FIX IT NOW INSTEAD OF REPLACING IT LATER.

A lot of catastrophic sail failures can be traced back to a small repair that was never made.  When you notice a small hole or a chafed spot that’s getting increasingly worse, save yourself serious head- and wallet-ache by addressing the problem while it is still small. Our service experts have heard more than a few people come into the loft with a shredded sail saying, “I’ve been meaning to get that spot patched”.

9.  BAG IT!

Pretty simple here. There’s a good reason new sails come with a sturdy bag and it’s not just another place for a logo. That bag is a much cheaper sacrificial covering than the sail inside of it. Take a look at an old sail bag that’s scuffed and torn-up, now imagine if that were your sail. Not good. It can be a pain to keep track of bags, but used regularly, they can really earn their keep.

10.  IF YOU DON’T KNOW…ASK.

Curious about some sail-care method you’ve heard somebody touting on the dock or trying to figure out if your sail could use a new piece of webbing on the tack? Feel free to call the service team at your local Quantum loft. We’re happy to field your questions and provide helpful pointers. Consider us a member of your team.

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Contact Quantum Sails Gulf Coast at gulfcoast@quantumsails.com or 281-474-4768 to learn more about protecting your investment. Visit QuantumSails.com for more great tips and tricks to help you meet all of your sailing challenges.

Don’t Let Your Sails Get Burned

May 2nd, 2017

silken 2015 06 03 0499 Don’t Let Your Sails Get Burned

By Quantum Sails

Nobody likes getting sunburned, and neither do your sails. What happens when the sun burns your sails?

If not properly protected, sunburned sails can tear while in use, stranding you and your family. Ultraviolet (UV) covers can help protect your sails and your sailing season. Even seasonal UV exposure in the Northern latitudes can cause serious problems in a short amount of time. Quantum Sails Pacific Loft Service Manager Emre Kalaycioglu has a lot of experience helping customers. Here are his tips.

WHY ARE UV COVERS IMPORTANT?

If you have a furling genoa or mainsail, you probably keep it on your rig for an extended period of time. However, the elements – especially the sun – are harmful to your sails. Over the years, the sun will begin to burn out the sail’s leech, and sunburn will appear on the sail. These sunburned areas weaken over time. While sailing, stress on the sails can cause the threads to break in the weaker areas. A proper UV cover can protect your investment from the damaging UV rays of the sun.

HOW DO I TAKE CARE OF THE UV COVER?

A common misconception is that when a UV cover is installed it will last forever, but the sail cover actually needs to be maintained to last.

Something that most people overlook about their UV covers is how often they need to be re-stitched in order to last. While the UV cover can last anywhere from 4-8 seasons – depending greatly on exposure and maintenance – the thread may only last about half the lifespan of the cover, as it degrades faster than the cover itself. Bringing your sails into your local Quantum Sails loft to have the covers re-stitched will increase the lifespan of your UV covers and ultimately your sails.

Another common mistake most sailors make is keeping their sails hoisted on the boat for an extended period of time. It’s important to drop your sails and, whenever possible, keep them in a cool, dry place between sailing trips. To prevent the UV cover from deteriorating, wash your sails with fresh, clean water on a regular basis, then let them dry completely before refurling (washing and drying is very important for your sails, especially after a rainy season).

When leaving the boat, take extra caution to make sure your sails are set and won’t come loose with any strong winds. An extra sail tie could help prevent your sails from flogging, which will protect your sails and UV cover from extra wear and tear.

WHEN IS IT TIME TO SERVICE?

UV covers degrade with UV exposure and use. While a UV cover in New England may last anywhere from 6-8 seasons, that same cover in the Caribbean may only last 3-4 seasons.

It’s important to check over your sails at the beginning and end of every season. See if there are any chafed or damaged areas on your sail and UV cover. Be sure to check the side of the sail opposite the UV cover. If you see any color change on that side, it’s time to replace the UV cover as soon as possible, as the discoloration means the current UV cover has expired and is no longer protecting your sail against the sun. Delaying that replacement can cause extensive damage to the sail.

WHAT MATERIALS DO YOU SUGGEST FOR A UV COVER?

At Quantum Sails, we recommend Sunbrella UV Cover fabric. Our sewing machine thread we generally use is 138 Dabond thread for sewing UV covers – it’s thicker than what our competitors use, and thus lasts a little bit longer. We can also use UV stable thread, such as Tenara or SolarFix thread, but it’s considerably more expensive, so may not always be the best option.

For more great sailing tips and tricks or to learn about Quantum Sails, visit www.QuantumSails.com.

Farley Fontenot – Quantum Sails

August 31st, 2015

FARLEY1 Farley Fontenot   Quantum Sails

The boats on a reach at the 2015 Audi Melges 32 World Championships.

Good of Farley 2 Farley Fontenot   Quantum Sails

Farley Fontenot

Farley lives in La Porte, runs a business in Seabrook and races sailboats all over the world. A family man, he still finds the time to sail with his kids. By the time you read this article, Farley will be back home from the 2015 Audi Melges 32 World Championships held in Trapani on Sicily Island in Italy, where he acted as coach for the Quantum Racing Team. The guy has a pretty nice gig.  How did he get so lucky?

When did you first come to this area and how did you get started in the sail making business?

I grew up in Port Arthur, and at that time there were no sailmakers in that area, so my father decided that we would take sail making up as a hobby and to help support the local sailmaking market. So by the seventh grade, I could use a sewing machine and do the service work that came into his little business. We were working out of our living room, which was 25’ x 15.’After college, in 1977, I wanted to continue sailing, and my only avenue was sailmaking. So I promised my parents that I would do it for a couple years and then get a real job. I worked for John Cameron for maybe six months, before I ran into John Kolius, who was running the Ulmer Sails loft here in Seabrook, and I have been here ever since.

What is the biggest change you have witnessed in the sail making business in the last 20 years?

Two things come to mind. The first is technology in both design and materials. Just as in every other surviving business in the world, we continue to move the boundaries forward on where we are going with design and material. In design, with the development of our own proprietary design software and the use of programs such as V Spars, we can exact the loads generated on each sail and then design that sail specifically to that load. This enables the sail to be as light in weight as possible and yet still yield to loads generated.

The second thing is how the sailmaking business has transformed from a small cottage business to a international, technology driven business, where we know every sail built around the world, who the customers is, what sails he owns, and what work has been done to those sails.  To be a leader in the service industry, you have to know your client’s needs.

The Melges 32 is a pretty physical boat in a blow — how many guys do you carry as a crew and who does what on the boat?

The Melges 32 is definitely a lesson in “Team Sports.” On the Delta Volpe teams we have playbooks, we have game films, we have team meetings to go over the game films, and we have a game plan every morning when we leave the dock. All teams are led by the “Owner Driver.” The Melges 32 is one class that has zero tolerance for anyone other than the owner to drive the boats. All of teams have “Pro Tacticians.” Our teams have Pro Mainsail and Jib/Spinnaker Trimmers. We then have a bowman, a tall, strong Mast Man, a pit person and a very athletic floater, who is a little of everything.

If you could start your business all over again what would you do differently?

That is an easy one, I would have saved all of the money we were making in the early 80s before that oil crash. That was a hard lesson for a couple young kids to learn, trying to make our business work in a down turned economy. We had done so well, that we thought it would never end, but it did. And I bet if you ask Kolius, he would say the same thing.

In your opinion why is the U.S. Olympic team so far behind some of the dominating sailing teams in the world?

Without looking deep into it, I would say that there are two Olympic sports that you have spend so much money on your equipment: Sailing and Equestrian (The rich man’s sports). And because of that, there are many times that our best sailing talent does not have the funds to fully develop their talents and skill sets.  Other countries such as England and New Zealand have large funds set aside just for the development of the best sailors in their countries. The U.S. is going to have a tough time competing with those types of programs. Although Josh Adams, Charlie McKee and even Houston’s Luther Carpenter are doing great jobs with what they have to work with, it just might not be enough. And if the sport is not careful, we could lose sailing altogether in the games.

Buddy Melges used to say “Win the start and then increase your lead.” Is that what you say to your guys when you’re coaching them?

For long regattas, such as World Championships, where we will have 12 races, we try and manage the peaks and valleys.  We love winning races, but we try and manage the starts and first legs, and then have a positive pass number throughout the race.  Let’s say we get to the first mark 11th, pass a boat here and there, take a couple with a good marker rounding and pass one more on the last beat and come in 5th.  That is a strong race in that fleet. That’s how you win regattas, staying consistent. We try and not let a bad race bring us down, we recover and get ready to race another race.

In long regattas, the first three races are very important, in that you don’t let the regatta get away from you. The middle races are fine tuning what the course and fleet give you, and you take as much as you can each race from both the fleet and the course. The next to last day you have to keep yourself in contention.  And on the last day, you want to leave the dock knowing you have a mathematical shot to win the regatta.

When is John Kolius going to be inducted into the U.S. Sailing Hall of Fame?

If there is anyone out there who deserves to be in the Hall of Fame, it has to be JK. I have nominated him twice with no luck. I will continue the nomination process until we get him there.  He was arguably one of the best boat drivers in the world from 1977 to 1995, and I believe that he has earned the right to be inducted into the Sailing Hall of Fame.