UK Sailmakers' Encyclopedia of Sails 

1.2 - How To Buy A Sail

Frank Pong's Reichel/Pugh 77 JELIK racing with Uni-Titanium sails. Photo courtesy of the China Cup International Regatta.

Buying a new sail should be a pleasure, not a terrifying, difficult or mysterious experience. If you're a bit concerned about this, we'd like to explain the process. Sails are made to fit your boat, for the kind of sailing you want to do, and the winds and waters you sail in. The more information we have about you and your boat, the more accurate our quote can be and the more tailored-for-you we can make your new sails.      

Our staff is very experienced and can usually make suggestions to help you, starting with these eight questions:

  1. What kind of boat do you have? We need the make and model. If you say a 40-foot Beneteau, we can't tell whether that's an Oceanis 400, a 40CC, a 40.7 or First 40 — all different. So, be explicit.
  2. In what year was your boat built? Builders often make changes year by year.
  3. What rig does this have? Many builders offer standard and tall rigs. For example, the Catalina 30 comes either way and there is a very large difference between the two masts.
  4. Has the rig been modified? Owners occasionally lengthen their boom or add a short bowsprit to increase sail area on under-canvassed boats. Has a furler been added?
  5. Where do you sail? Sails cut for long ocean swells should have a different shape from those used in choppy waters. Some places have strong winds, others zephyrs.
  6. Do you race, cruise or do both? The choice of materials and features you should have will vary to suit your usage.
  7. What's the reason for buying a new sail? Are you replacing an old one, moving to different waters , heading off on a worldwide voyage, looking for more speed and/or durability?
  8. What key factors will influence your purchase? Can you rank factors such as price, performance, multi-purpose use, and durability.

To generate a quotation, we'll need answers to those eight questions, especially the ones which have to do with dimensions and tell us how you plan to use your sails. Our computerized database has rig measurements for thousands of boats, so the chances are high that we'll have yours in our system. We do have one reservation in this quotation: it is subject to verification that we've actually identified your boat correctly - insuring that the final measurements turn out to be reasonably close to what were used in making our quotation.

If our price quotation is acceptable to you, we'll send you a confirmation form to sign. It includes all sales terms. A deposit of 50% will get your sail started in production; the balance is due when your sail is delivered. Normally, this takes only 2-4 weeks, but orders placed when lofts are busiest (early spring, especially) will take longer.