A LOOK INSIDE THE NORTH SAILS LOFTS: SPINNAKER SAIL CARE
Our Certified Service Experts Explain Review and Repair of Downwind Sails
Spring launch dates may be delayed but when it does arrive, you don’t want to miss a single second of the 2020 sailing season. We’re especially looking forward to seeing our harbors full of boats and long downwind runs that burst with bright, colorful spinnakers.
Where possible, the North Sails lofts are open and the service teams are working on pre-season sail care. A few weeks ago we published ‘When to Replace Your Spinnaker;’ a how-to on what to look for and advice on prolonging the life of nylon downwind sails. Many of the tips were visual cues for when you’re out sailing, but our service experts also have a process where they can inspect your spinnaker inside our lofts, and help to determine if it’s in repairable condition or if you should think about replacement.
We called on Certified Service managers Bacci Sgarbossa and Nick Beaudoin, from Italy and Australia respectively. Below is an explanation of their simple, but effective process for assessing the lifespan of your spinnaker. This North Sails Blue Book process holds true for spinnakers of all sizes, from one design to supermaxis.
Step 1: Rinse That Salt Off
It’s important to rinse spinnakers after sailing. Salt retains humidity making the kite heavier and more elastic. Plus, dried salt crystals in spinnaker cloth add weight. Let your service expert know if your sail needs to be rinsed when it arrives at the North loft.
Step 2: Hang Dry
Once your spinnaker arrives at the loft, it is draped and hung up to dry overnight. Once dry, it is ready to “fly” (inside!). Depending on the size of the spinnaker, two to four staff “fly” it in the air, which allows the team to get underneath and inspect the sail for any tears and/or holes. As the sail is being flown, damaged areas are marked with fluorescent stickers.
Step 3: Repair
The service technicians use fluorescent stickers to easily identify areas that require sail repair. Pinholes and tears are patched with the appropriate cloth. Once all work is completed, each sail is flaked and bricked for easy transport and storage.
Step 4: Replace (if necessary)
There are times when a sail is beyond repairable. Your Certifed Service expert will let you know when the sail is on its last legs and then get you in touch with the proper loft contact.