Service and Repair
Service is more than just fixing sails; it is how we keep sailors’ loyalty. Service for existing sails is our primary interaction with our customers and potential customers. We offer repairs, recuts, rigging and rating consultations, cleaning, storage, evaluations, and more. Since sailing is our passion, we are happy to spend time helping our customers with all aspects of the sport.
Sails are a big investment, and if you take care of them, they will give you years of service. Every UK Sailmakers’ loft can help you to get the most from your sails, no matter what brand they are. Our sailmakers specialize in prompt, expert repairs and modifications at a reasonable price.
Annual inspection and service are key to protecting the major investment you have in your sails. Just as you bring your car in for scheduled maintenance, you should do the same with your sails. When you bring in your sail for repair, even if it is minor, your sail gets the careful attention of our service team. We not only fix the matter at hand, but we look over the sail for wear spots indicating future problems, such as not covering your sail properly or chafing marks from poorly covered cotter pins. Attention like this can save you serious money and keep you from losing precious time on the water.
Wear & Tear
Shown here is a two-year-old dacron genoa that came into a UK Sailmakers’ loft for “storage only.” Inspection revealed that the leech of the sail by the spreader was showing signs of chafe. Click on the image to see the emerging damage that keen eyes picked up on a 49-footer’s genoa. As a result, we reinforced this area with a chafe patch to prevent a rip from developing. More than once, we have noticed that furling genoas were being rolled the wrong way so that the protective cover was on the inside. Most of the time, we can get the customer to fix the furler direction before the sail becomes unserviceable. These are just a few examples of how we can discover small issues before they become big problems that could interrupt sailing season which always seems way too short.
When rips happen, bring your sail to your nearest UK Sailmakers loft for repairs done right. Many times we can take a spinnaker that looks like a frayed jig-saw puzzle to make it look new again. We will do repairs promptly to get you back sailing as soon as possible. The sailing season is short enough and you shouldn’t be waiting for your torn batten pocket or replaced leech line. In many lofts, doing repairs is a nuisance that cuts into production time, but at UK Sailmakers repairs are always a top priority.
While fixing rips and tears is the most obvious form of service, UK Sailmakers’ lofts do much more. We can retrofit mainsails with extra reefs or convert them from standard battens to full battens. If you are having problems raising or lowering your main, we can convert the existing slides to lower-friction ones. Genoas can be converted from racing sails to roller-furling cruising sails. All these changes require an experienced sailmaker who can do the job right and, in the first place, determine if conversions are a cost-effective option.
One of the most requested service jobs is to replace UV covers on roller furling genoas. This process is labor intensive. Sunbrella covers are attached with a lot of stitching that needs to be sliced apart with a seam ripper. Lightweight UV adhesive dacron covers get peeled off in pieces, as shown in the photos to the left. Many lofts will just apply a new layer of sticky back UV dacron over the old cover to save the sail owner money. While overlaying a new sticky back cover over the worn-out cover saves money, it does add extra weight, which goes against the idea of a lightweight cover. Remember that UV covers are meant to be sacrificial, just like shaft zincs. Both are designed as protective shields that slowly deteriorate while protecting the underlying structure. Light-weight sticky back covers wear out after 3-4 years, depending on the length of your season and how close to the equator you keep your boat. Sunbrella or WeatherMax UV covers last 6-10 years depending on the length of your season and how close to the equator you keep your boat. Click here to read an article about mainsail covers losing their UV-blocking abilities over time.
We can re-cut all brands of sails to try to extend their competitive life. If we cannot get out to your boat to evaluate a sail that needs a re-cut, we will instruct you on how to make photographs showing the sail’s shape. The J/44 light No. 1 shown to the right was retired from the boat’s racing inventory since the draft has moved too far aft. The shape was too far gone to be recut.
Some recuts are made to new sails as well. The images below show work we did on a sail that did not fit. The sail was purchased from an offshore sailmaker, and it is clear that the boat was never measured properly. When the sail was delivered, it would not furl into the mast because the sail’s luff was too long and the tack angle was wrong. On top of it all, the tack patch was overbuilt to the point that it would not fit into the opening in the mast.
We cut the foot up by about four inches at the tack and ten inches at the clew to set the correct tack angle. We reduced the number of layers in the tack patch. We installed a flat tape on the foot (to take to loading from tack to clew and installed the foot tape. Then we buttoned everything up with the UV cover and webbing reinforcements around the tack and clew block. The sail now fits, and this happy customer will not stray offshore anymore.
If you sail in salt water, having your sails washed will extend their livelihood. Salt crystals absorb moisture and prevent sails from fully drying. Damp sails are an incubator for mildew. Having your sails cleaned not only removes salt, but other benefits are:
- removes most stains
- removes most mildews
- removes unpleasant odors
- brightens sails
Service also includes advice on everything having to do with your sails and your sailboat. Our service team can help with:
- How to reconfigure your sail plan for how you use the boat.
- How to modify your running rigging for easier sail handling
- Tips on how to extend the life of your sails
- Tips on sail trim
- General information on sails and sailboats