At the End of the Year it is well worth storing your sails properly for the winter lay-up, as even hard wearing modern materials will not take kindly to being left damp, salty, dirty and creased for six months. The main rules are to rinse and dry the sails, then leave them loosely rolled. Wash them if possible - some dirt, like rust, can be corrosive. Once clean store them somewhere dry, cool and out of the sun.
Hyde Sails offer a winter valet service that will take these jobs off your hands. In addition they will check for routine maintenance, which is outlined in the following section, and do any necessary repairs.
At the end of any season's sailing you should have a good look at your sails to see if there are any areas that need work. And it's a good idea to do the same check before a period of extended cruising or race regatta, particularly if you will be some distance from the services of a sailmaker.
The luff, foot tapes and bolt ropes are a good place to start. Chafing is the biggest problem, particularly if it has worn right through the cloth to the rope. It can then catch in the groove as the sail is hoisted and tear badly. If you have slides, hanks or cars, have a good look at each of them to see if there is any cracking or signs of fatigue failure (discolouration or roughening of the surface).
The attachment of any hardware to the sail is a potential problem area, because of the fastening of soft sailcloth to harder metal and plastic. The headboard, batten pockets and battens, cunningham and outhaul rings are all worth careful inspection for chafe and broken stitching. In fact all the seams are worth scanning to see if they are showing signs of wear.
Also have a look at the general condition of the cloth, particularly in areas that are prone to chafe on spreaders and stanchions. How soft and pliable is the cloth compared to when it was new? Sail-cloth can be a bit like brakes on your car- you don't realise how bad it's getting till its too late.
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