When your genoa gets old

Sooner or later, all genoas get old and their shape starts to change from the optimum. They drag across the rig a few hundred times, flog, are stuffed into turtles, and get used in a little too much wind. Aging is inevitable and, unfortunately, so is the fact that some of these sails will have to be used for racing. What can be done to give an older sail a fighting chance?

© North Sails
First of all, it's important to understand that, compared to a new sail, an older genoa is more draft aft, further away from the spreaders, flatter in the forward sections, fuller overall, and tighter-leeched. When you put all this together you have a slow sail, unless you take a few steps:

  • Trim the foot harder (closer to the chainplates) to bring the upper part of the sail closer to the spreader
  • Use more halyard tension to pull the draft forward so you have a rounder entry (with a wider groove) and more power
  • Increase the lead angle slightly to reduce main backwinding caused by roundness near the leech
  • Move the lead back slightly to twist the leech more.
  • As with the main, take pictures of any headsail you think could be improved, and show these to your sailmaker. It may be possible to bring the sail back to life with a bit of surgery

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