Unlike what you’d expect, windsurfing sails do not last forever; based on my experience, the length of a sail’s life depends on several factors.
Throughout my sailing years, I have come to understand that the way you care for your sails determines how long they will last.
In the course of this article, I will be sharing my expert tips on how long windsurfing sails last, how to maintain their integrity, and when to replace them.
Lastly, I will share a price range for replacing damaged sails.
How Long Do Sails Last?
Generally, determining the life span of your windsurfing sail is pretty complicated.
You cannot get a precise duration of how long your sails will last.
However, whenever I go out for a sail, two main factors affect my windsurfing sail; the structural integrity and shape of life/care for it.
Nevertheless, in my experience, these sails will last you for a long time – even with little care.
However, the structural architecture of the sail will gradually lose its integrity after prolonged contact with the sun.
Moreover, let’s see some significant role-playing factors affecting the life span of a sail.
The sun’s ultraviolet light rays affect the interwoven structure of polyester materials.
Thereby causing a reduction in the sail’s strength.
I know avoiding the sun as you sail is almost impossible; however, you can continuously check out every corner of the sail, searching for a tear.
In case you find a tear, fixing it will ensure an increased life span of your sail.
You will be putting your sail at risk of damage if you fail to check for any damage to the material.
Here’s the truth about sails, their shape life gradually deteriorates with every passing hour when it’s in use.
However, I wasn’t always able to spot when my sail began losing its performance until I figured out some symptoms to notice when sailing.
If your sail stretches too much, you will notice a drop in performance after a while because it will begin to lose its critical airfoil shape.
Whether you are racing or cruising, you would notice a drag in the control heel.
Generally, if all things are okay (weather and care), your sails shape life would last about half to two-thirds of its structural integrity.
That means your sail will last for about 3,500 – 4,000 hours with proper care.
How To Maintain Your Sail’s Life
I remember going out to sail and witnessing my boat struggle with the waves and weather.
After a while, I noticed my sail’s performance began to drop, and it was due to my improper care and maintenance.
Regardless, it didn’t take much time before I learned these expert maintenance tips for sails.
I will highlight some ways you can maintain your sail’s life in the section.
- Keep Your Sail Away From The Sun When Not In Use
I don’t think I can stress this part enough; your sails are not safe from the dangerous UV rays of the sun.
Unless you have a furling system, you might want to cover or stow your sails.
If you don’t protect your sails from the sun (when not in use), the structural integrity and shape life is at risk of damage.
- Regularly Inspect Your Sails
Generally, your sail should be with an expert maintenance company once a year to run regular checks and fixes.
Engaging in this act prevents your sail from damaging or you having to replace anything.
If you find a tear or spot an abrasion such as loose stitching, the expert should amend the damage before further issues.
During my extended time sailing, it cost less to run checkups on your sail than replace a damaged part.
- Clean The Sails
Aside from the sun and wave, the following main enemy to your sail’s integrity is salt and other dirt debris.
Therefore, you should engage yourself in the periodic washing of salty waters off your sail.
A general rule to sailing is, “if your sail gets exposed to saltwater, you should wash it as soon as possible.”
- Use Recut To Maintain Sail Shape
I find using recut essential, especially if your sail is over a year, two, or more.
As your sail ages, they stretch more and lose their shape, which utterly affects the steering capability.
If you feel you cannot keep track of your sail’s shape changes, you can periodically take photos of your sail each year while sailing. Then, after a while, you can show those then (and now) pictures to an expert sailmaker to analyze the shape change.
- Replace The Sails On Your Boat
Most times, fixing the tear on your sail might not be the best action.
I suggest replacing damaged sails as it is the best course of action to take.
In addition, replacing the sails will ensure that your cruising or racing performance remains above average.
- Use The Proper Halyard Tension
This tip is among the most essential for any sailor.
If you want your sail to withstand the power of the wind and last for a more extended period, I suggest you use the proper halyard tension.
Depending on your boat, the halyard tension might differ.
Ensure you speak to your sailmaker to get the proper halyard tension that holds your sail perfectly during every race or cruise.
When Is It Time To Change/Replace A Windsurf Sail
Primarily, the exact time to replace a windsurf sail depends on the frequency of the sailing sailor.
Therefore, I mainly advise a replacement to sails when they have been over-worked or tear on any part.
However, if you feel you want to fix the tear rather than replace the sail, go right ahead.
But, the moment the tear or performance drops, you need to replace the sail as soon as possible.
How often should you replace your sails?
For instance, if your sails every two weekends in a month for a five-month duration, you might roughly accumulate 240 hours yearly.
Therefore, you might not need to replace your sails for more than 10 years for this type of sailor.
However, if you sail 12 hours daily every month, in a 12-month calendar year, you would averagely accumulate 1,728 hours.
Therefore, if you are this type of sailor, your sails would need replacement every 2.5 years.
How do you spot a bad sail?
Whether you are an expert sailor or not, there are some ways to detect a bad sail on your boat.
Firstly, the performance of each sail becomes reduced, and sailing becomes more challenging for the sailor.
In addition, you can spot a bad sail once the shape becomes poor, the stitches break, the bolt rope shrinks, and there’s damage to the batten pockets.
However, if you are a novice sailor, I suggest you take your boat to a professional sailmaker to run some checks for you.
How Much Does It Cost To Replace Sails
There is no fixed price on how much you would spend trying to replace a damaged sail.
However, the costs of each sail depend on the size you are purchasing, the quality of the fabric, material, and boat length.
Regardless, if you want to replace a 24′ Bermuda sloop, it might cost about $1,000 – $2,000.
While a mid-sized 34′ boat will cost about $3,000 – $5,000. On the other hand, larger sails will cost above $5,500 for every replacement.
If you have a damaged sail needing replacement, I recommend that you patronize any other of these listed online stores.
As you now know, the duration/life span of a windsurfing sail depends on several factors.
However, these factors are influenceable by human and natural occurrences.
Therefore, if you want your sails to last longer, I recommend that you provide proper maintenance for them.
Furthermore, if you have a damaged sail, fixing it will be an advisable approach.
However, I strongly suggest that you replace it to prevent an underperforming sail.