Your sails are your boat’s engine. As any avid sports car driver would tell you, an improperly maintained engine will detract from your car’s performance, and so too will the sails on your boat. Put more simply, take good care of your sails and they will take good care of you. Since your sails won’t last forever, but following these simple steps on how to fold, roll and store your sails, will ensure you will get the best possible cruising life from them.
Spinnakers should be dry and free from dirt or salt before storing. Many spinnaker fabrics are woven from the small denier threads. Any dirt or salt left on the sails will get into the fibers and cause the cloth to deteriorate prematurely. If your sail is wet from salt water, fly it upside down, with the clews tied together at the top and the head at the bottom. To rinse saltwater off the sail, use a hose spraying from the top and letting the fresh water flush to the bottom. Using this method the sail will float gently in breeze and dry off pretty quickly. Use this same method for sails wet with freshwater or spread out indoors, inside your boat or in an enclosed space with a dehumidifier running.
Once your asymmetric is clean, fold and store them properly using these tips:
Step 1: Start with the spinnaker open and flat, with one person at the tack and one at the clew. Begin to take flakes in the sail, of equal widths, along the luff and leech.
Step 2: Continue to flake the sail. Make the flakes along the luff, which is longer than the leech, slightly wider so sail flakes evenly on top of itself.
Step 3: Finish flaking by making the head reinforcing patch lie flat in the the center of the flaked sail.
Step 4: Start rolling the flaked sail from leech to luff.
Step 5: Continue to roll to luff. The finished product will look as it does in Figure 5 above.
The easy way to store your spinnaker is just to stuff it in the bag it came with. By taking good care of your sail, flaking and storing it properly, you will extend its racing life and ensure you get the most from your investment.