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How to Fold Your Sailboat Sails for Longer Life

Updated on June 2, 2010
Fold a Dacron mainsail like an accordion. Roll it from the tack to the clew. Slide it into the sail bag with the clew nearest the top of the bag.
Fold a Dacron mainsail like an accordion. Roll it from the tack to the clew. Slide it into the sail bag with the clew nearest the top of the bag.

Did you know that you can increase the life of your cruising sails or racing sails and save money in repair costs with one single action? Learn to sail like a pro with the little-known secrets of how to add years of life to any sailboat sail.

If you day sail or cruise, remove your sails at the end of the sailing season. That includes your roller furling headsail. Racing sailors should remove sails from the boat after each race.

Grap a buddy to work with you. It only takes three minutes to fold a large sailboat sail and bag it. Use these five easy steps to fold your sails and protect them from salt, dirt, and UV sunlight.

1. Remove Mainsail Battens

Open up each batten pocket and remove your mainsail battens. Battens tend to wear and chafe the pockets and stitching.

2. Lay the Sail Flat on a Clean Surface

Find a clean, flat area on the pier or floor space. Grass will work as long as it's clean and dry. Each person should grab one corner of the foot and rotate the sail to point the foot upwind. This will keep the sail under control as you fold it.

3. Kneel, Grab, and Pull Down

Work in unison with your partner. Kneel (or squat) down at the foot corners. Place weight on the corner. Reach about two feet up along the edge of the sail. Lift the edge up and pull the fold down all the way to the edge of the foot.

4. Fold Accordion-Style to the Head

Transfer your weight to the new corners. Reach up about two feet along the edge again. Grab the sail edge, lift it up, and fold it over your first fold. Match the long edges on top of one another. Continue this method all the way to the top (head) of the sail. This will form an "accordion" shape (see middle illustration).

5. Use These Rolling Techniques

Roll the sail up based on the type of sail or fabric. You want to roll and bag sails so that the first corner to get attached to the boat lies on top. That way, when you open the bag, that's the corner you will see.

Dacron mainsails--Roll from the tack to the clew. Slide the mainsail into the sail bag with the clew at the top of the bag.

Dacron Genoas or Jibs--Roll from the clew to the tack. Slide the headsail into the sail bag with the tack at the top of the bag.

Mylar and Hi-Tech Racing Sails--Roll from the foot to the head. This protects the stiff plastic fabric of special sails made of Mylar or other hi-tech fibers. These sails often get bagged in long "cigar-shaped" sail bags.

Follow these five sailing tips to increase the life span of your costly sailboat sails. Your sails will reward you with speed, power, and performance--wherever in the world you choose to go sailing!


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    • GetitScene profile image

      Dale Anderson 4 years ago from The High Seas

      Excellent tip.

    • profile image

      Paul Stein 6 years ago

      Thanks for the help.

      Appreciate it.

      Paul, Pearson 35