Taking Care of Symmetric Spinnakers

Take care of your sails, and your sails will take care of you. Here's what you need to know to keep your symmetrical spinnaker in top shape.

Your sails are your boat’s engine. As any avid sports car driver would tell you, an improperly maintained engine will detract from your car's performance, and so too will the sails on your race boat. Put more simply, take good care of your sails and they will take good care of you. Since your sails won't last forever, but following these simple steps on how to fold, roll and store your sails, will ensure you will get the best possible racing life from them.

Spinnakers should be dry and free from dirt or salt before storing. Many of the fastest spinnaker fabrics are woven from the smallest denier threads. Any dirt or salt left on the sails will get into the fibers and cause the cloth to deteriorate prematurely. If your sail is wet from salt water, fly it upside down, with the clews tied together at the top and the head at the bottom. To rinse saltwater off the sail use a hose spraying from the top and letting the fresh water flush to the bottom. Using this method the sail will float gently in breeze and dry off pretty quickly. Use this same method for sails wet with freshwater or spread out indoors, inside your boat or in an enclosed space with a dehumidifier running.

Once your sails are clean, fold and store them properly using these tips:

North Sails
Figure 1North Sails

Step 1: Holding the head and the two clews together, lift the leeches up to get some air under the sail and "fly" the sail down flat on the ground.

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Figure 2North Sails

Step 2: Lay the sail down with the two leeches on top of each other to one side and the center seam of the sail to the other .

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Figure 3North Sails

Step 3: Starting at the foot, fold the midfoot up so the angle between the leech and the folded foot is ninety degrees.

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Figure 4North Sails

Step 4: Flake the sail from foot to head taking even fold between the leeches and center seam.

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Figure 5North Sails

Step 5: Continue flaking. At the head on the sail, take the last flake so the head patch lies flat on top of the rest of the sail.

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Figure 6North Sails

Step 6: Roll, or fold the sail from the center seam to the leeches so air will escape and the sail will be flat and tight.

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Figure 7North Sails

Step 7: The finished product should look like this. ready for the sail bag and your next race.

The easy way to store your spinnaker is just to stuff it in the bag it came with. By taking good care of your sail, flaking and storing it properly, you will extend its racing life and ensure you get the most from your investment.