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Sail life? How many miles?

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I know it depends on a lot of factors, but what sort of mileage/lifespan are folk getting from their sails before they're stretched out and not of good shape?


Let's say cruising with cruising laminates, Main and Jib life? Of course if you spend your cruising beating into 30 knts it'ss be less than lifting nicely downwind in 12 knts, but nonetheless, some estimates would be a good start.


At the moment I expect that If I sailed back to NZ, the nice sails I have would be due for replacement by the time I got to BOI.

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Dr, really hard question because there are many different types of laminates/cloth/manufacturer/method of construction/quality of construction etc. Then throw in the hours in the sun, wind range, sail handling so too many variables to give definitive answers.

People tell me laminates can die from old age even  if unused and dacron lasts pretty much forever if you can handle hoisting  the equivalent to a pair of baggy trousers.

If you have a really nice set you want to preserve, then I'd consider getting an old race set for cheap to come to nz with.

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If you have a really nice set you want to preserve, then I'd consider getting an old race set for cheap to come to nz with.

It's definitely a "how long is a piece of string" kinda question fer sure.

Yeah that's actually a consideration I have - getting a Dacron main and jib for delivery. Even things like having a crew take the boat to Greece in spring and I go down and spend a few weeks there, but it's 2500NM to Athens so it's not something I can do in my own vacation time... So there's a certain amount of wear n tear to consider there, as well as covering the delivery crew - (anyone wanna do that run for me? lol) 


But I'm also trying to work out a "per mile" or "per year" costing. Guests have been saying "can we contribute to the cost of running the boat?" I've been shrugging my shoulders n' saying "If you'd like to make a small donation, sure" But I've no real idea on a per mile/ per cruise kinda basis. So as an exercise for interest's sake I'm having a look. (maybe I shouldn't... esp. if I include depreciations, lol!) 

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Charter race boats usually have a per mile cost for sail depreciation. In that context it is fairly high, but usually involves top end sails on top end boats ( I'm not talking sunsail charters here).

I've no idea what the costs are or where to look to find out. It is moderately common in the UK, you could possibly look into that for a ball park cost and adjust it for your spec gear.


On basic economics though, Dacron has always been the best cost per mile. That is why the majority of cruisers and race boats have delivery sets in dacron. The tricky thing to quantify with dacron is the 'shape life' though. Clearly radial cut sails have better shape life, and as you go up from cruising laminates to 3D Carbon what evers, the shape life should improve. Although my expectations of the dollars per mile would go out the window.


If you've got a posh set of sails you want to use for competitive racing, and also plan on long deliveries / cruising, I would have thought a 'delivery set' of sails would be worth it.


One other comment that if often made, short handed / solo racers can expect to flog their sails more, so it's recommended to just get cheapies and accept the need to replace them regularly, in comparison to fully crewed boats who can do a peel or a reef in the fraction of the time.

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Id just take the costs on the chin and suggest to guests a nominal fee, youre on a losing wicket called boat ownership :)

That's what I've always done :) and it's a pleasure :)



Fish, that's an important point about fully (experienced) crew or not. With only one or two on board, reefing or any manouvure takes longer and is more likely to result in more flogging until you've got it down pat (Ie have your method all sorted). With more/experienced crew, it is definitely easier and smoother for all those. Just noticed it on the last cruise, just one other experienced had made things (mostly) much better.

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For Greece it would be interesting to do a cost comparison between the wear and rear, berthage and running costs in sailing there, or getting it hauled to Italy and going from there.


True, running down the Adriatic from Triest or so might be much better than burning money on crew or vacation on sailing it there.


Current costs are about €8500 per year for fixed + sails and breakages (ignoring depreciation)...

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When we sailed back from Europe we had lots of friends and family aboard (30 in total)

We decided to do the trip so we paid for all the boat related costs, fuel, berthage, repairs etc

Food, drink and entry costs were shared evenly amongst the crew.

That was how we did it however we saw all sorts from paid crew to paying crew.

Really important to state this very clearly before anyone joins the boat !!

As for sails, a good set of cruising laminate sails will easily do the trip and still be fine for cruising here, however I’d be careful about carrying extras, a mate bought a yacht in the US that came with a pile of race sails that he stowed in the forward cabin, when he got here they were all stuffed as were the fibres where bent in the flake with other sails on top the had broken from the constant movement (cyclic lifespan)

All I’d be looking at for your boat is a main with really good reefing system, ideally able to be reefed downwind and Genoa made both from Cruise lam, Dacron heavy weather jib and maybe an A3.

It’s not a race and a long legs (3000nm) the difference between being comfortable and pushing hard is actually only a day. And Murphy will always make that day a Sunday or public holiday every time

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