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"crackly" stiff sail


Active Member
My sail is a 1970's Ratsey & Lapthorn model that is still in decent shape. However, it doesn't have a window, so am considering getting a new sail that has a window. One dacron sail that I'm looking at is very stiff and "Crackly" sounding. In contrast, my (nylon?) Ratsey is soft and quiet. I can furl it up nicely when done. But I can't imaging being able to easily roll up this dacron sail that I'm looking at. Is this normal or am I looking at a junky sail?


Well-Known Member
I think it's normal. My last two sails are like yours. Furling will keep the original shape and condition longer. In use and handling, the sail will gradually lose its original stiffness--stiffness being a desirable trait.

beldar boathead

Well-Known Member
Your Ratsey is most likely Dacron - 40 year old Dacron that has lost whatever stiffness it had. Crackly is better - holds its shape better as the wind picks up. It’s a desirable characteristic ina new sail!!


Well-Known Member
How about restoring "crackly" to an old sail?

It seems a new, highly-thinned, coat of something would help the sail's shape.

Spar varnish?


Upside down?
Staff member
Once a Sunfish sail has lost its 'ideal' shape, it can't be restored, unfortunately. But you can sail with it just fine.
And, most importantly, you will have an excuse if you don't win the race.
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Well-Known Member
I Agree with wavedancer.....once the shape is distorted, only a recut can potentially improve it. I advised Sailcare mainly for the excellent cleaning and re-resin. However....I'd just buy a new Sunfish sail rather than investing $ in an old sail. Sailcare makes more sense with much larger sails that can be costly to replace with new.
I like the race "excuse" potential too! Smart thinking.


Active Member
Buying a crisp new race cut sail is a safety issue. The race cut sails have a window so you can see other boats, jet skis, and children swimming. I run the Intensity sails because of the wide window and because I'm a cheap bastard.

signal charlie

Well-Known Member
Staff member
Keep sailing it, unless you are a racer. We managed for 30+ years without a window or a crinkly sail. We have some crinkly sails now and prefer our old blown dacron sails. I am convinced that the window is a racer thing, that floats their boats as they want the sail scraping the deck. We sail the recreational rig with the sail up high SO WE ARE ABLE TO SEE UNDER IT....pause for dramatic effect.....

Crinkly is the norm for the new sails, you will not find a soft one. They will roll up in about a one foot diameter roll. Cherish your R&L sail, they are vintage 5 panel, the new sail material is not as wide and they have 6 panels.

Our favorite old sail, the Riviera. Soft as butter. Not as vintage as the R&L.
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