North Sails LOFT NEWS

Story Contributors: Bill Lesnek, Mike Stark

SAIL HANDLING SYSTEMS

What You Need To Know And More

Personally, one of my least favorite jobs after sailing is getting the sails down and rolled or folded.  Fortunately, there is a sail handling system that can take some of the pain away for just about any sail. In this article we will take you through some of the major systems and how they can help make your sailing experience more enjoyable.  Whether its your main, genoa, or spinnaker, there is a system that can help. 

Mainsails often give us the most grief. Falling off the boom, tall stack heights, and binding slides are all very common problems but can be relieved with the correct system(s). Lazy jacks, Dutchman systems, and Quick Covers can all help keep the sail stacked neatly on take downs, the later being a combination of lazy jacks and mainsail cover. Pairing one of these systems with a Tides track will not only solve the problem of binding slides, it will also make hoists and take downs effortless. 

While genoas are usually one of the easier sails to deal with, there are still some great systems you may consider upgrading to depending on your current set up.  If you have a wire forestay and still using hanks, you may consider changing to a luff tape and using a head foil or roller furler. Much like main sails, hanks can often bind on hoists and take downs and also makes it very difficult to change sails on the go. A head foil can make your life a bit easier with twin grooves for fast sail changes and one solid attachment point along the luff, your time spent on the bow preparing to hoist and after take down will be reduced dramatically.  For those of you looking to spend no time on the bow, a roller furling unit may be the right call. This will allow you to keep your genoa up all season with the ability to partially roll the sail for reduced area while sailing and completely furl it while at the dock. 

Lastly, one of the more daunting tasks, especially for day sailors and larger boats can be the launching and dousing of a spinnaker. Fortunately, there are a few great systems that can really make this maneuver easier. Furlers aren’t just for genoas anymore. Recently a common trend for A-symmetrical spinnakers on larger boats is adding a furler. This will allow you to control the launching and dousing of your spinnaker just like a furling genoa.  For smaller to mid-size boats, a dousing sock may be right for you. This is essentially a lightweight sleeve that connects to the head of the sail and is pulled up and down with a continuous line and pully system as needed. Dousing socks work great for shorthanded sailing with an A-symmetric spinnaker. 

If you have any questions about the products we’ve mentioned in this article, feel free to reach out to Bill Lesnek (Bill.Lesnek@northsails.com) or Mike Stark (Mike.Stark@northsails.com) or you can call our Detroit office at 586-790-7500. 

Story Contributors

Sail Handling Systems: What You Need To Know headshot
Bill Lesnek

Service Manager — Detroit, Michigan

Detroit Certified Service manager Bill Lesnek has been in sailmaking since 1980 and specializes in canvas and sail repairs. A keen windsurfer, Bill moved into the sailmaking industry after making and repairing his own windsurfing sails for years. He has...

Sail Handling Systems: What You Need To Know headshot
Mike Stark

Service Sailmaker — Detroit, Michigan

Mike started sailing when he was seven, going through the Learn to Sail Program out of North Cape Yacht Club in Lasalle, MI. He enjoyed it so much, he moved right into fleet racing in the 420. He raced in...