Ask SAIL: Wrinkly Sails

Author:
Publish date:
Updated on

WRINKLY SAILS

Q: When I see photographs of raceboats, I notice all kinds of wrinkles in their mainsails. This is true even of small boats like Lasers at the Olympic level. How is it that these wrinkles don’t affect the aerodynamics of the sail? Surely it must slow them down, especially going to windward.

Kenneth Jenkins, Horicon, WI

BRIAN HANCOCK REPLIES

I presume you mean those horizontal wrinkles and not the vertical ones. (The vertical ones are bad and are caused by too much bend in the mast or too much halyard tension.) The horizontal wrinkles, on the other hand, are not as bad as they look. Granted, all things being equal, it’s probably better to take up on the halyard or cunningham to remove them, but not if that comes at a cost to sail shape. Understand that a sail is designed to a certain shape, and you have a limited number of tools with which to manipulate it. In light winds you want more draft, which means keeping the mast a bit straighter. In heavier winds you want a flat shape, so you bend your mast more and take up on the outhaul. Also, understand that the main has to operate in winds from zero to 30 knots. The sail may be optimized for certain wind speeds and not for others, so what you may be seeing is the result of a compromise on the part of the sailmaker. A few wrinkles along the luff in the area just behind the mast is also experiencing a certain amount of turbulence from the mast anyway, so the issue is not a critical one.

Got a question for our experts? Send it to sailmail@sailmagazine.com

June 2017

Related

anchor

Know how: Ground Tackle

Your ground tackle is like a relationship—the more you care for it, the longer it will last. So, how do you enhance the relationship? First up, think of the accommodations—a damp, salt-rich, often warm environment, just the kind of thing to encourage corrosion. What can be done? ...read more

DSC_7522

Boat Review: Beneteau Oceanis 46.1

The Beneteau sailboat line has long represented a kind of continuum, both in terms of the many models the company is offering at any given moment and over time. This does not, however, in any way diminish the quality of its individual boats. Just the opposite. Case in point: the ...read more

shutterstock_1016585167

Cruising: Memories Made by People You Meet

Steve greeted my boyfriend, Phillip, and me as soon as we tied Plaintiff’s Rest, our 1985 Niagara 35, up to his dock on one of the Berry Islands in the Bahamas. He was tall, cheerful and clad in a hodge-podge of clothes one might wear to paint a house: oversized, grungy and old. ...read more

_98A7540

Cruising: Dogs Afloat

We dog owners understand the general expectations of ourselves in public places, like picking up after Fido and keeping him on a leash. There are, however, certain places where additional unspoken rules or expectations may apply—as in harbors or marinas. If you sail with your ...read more

TOTW_PromoSite

SAIL's Tip of the Week

Presented by Vetus-Maxwell. Got a tip? Send it to sailmail@sailmagazine.com Log the glass  A week ago I set out after breakfast on a 50-mile passage. The day’s forecast via the internet was for 14-18 knots. It never happened, and I spent the entire trip adjusting my genoa ...read more

African-Batik-Green-hires

Gear: The Wonderbag

A Wondrous Bag Cruising sailors are always on the lookout for energy-efficient ways to prepare food, so this new take on the slow-cooker principle should prove popular. The Wonderbag is an insulated jacket that keeps food hot (or cold) for many hours and, according to the ...read more