How to Replace Sail Numbers & Insignia


Have your sail numbers or insignia seen better days? Old sail numbers and insignia were made of vinyl that would dry out and crack in the sun. If your numbers or insignia are cracked or faded, or if you have a new-to-you sail with someone else’s numbers, then you’ll want to replace them. It’s not hard to do, but it does take a little patience. Let’s take a look at removal and installation of sail numbers.

Before you remove the numbers or insignia, you’ll want to buy or pattern your replacements. For numerals, you can purchase pre-cut numbers or a Computer Eight, which you can cut into any number 0-9.

To replace the insignia, you’ll want to use a clear patterning material, like monofilm or Dura Skrim, to trace the shape of your existing insignia. Cut out the shape and use this pattern to trace your logo on to Adhesive-backed Insignia Dacron and cut it out with scissors. Be sure when you do this that your shape will face the correct direction when applied to the sail. To see demonstration of patterning insignia, watch our How to Make a Sail Logo Video.

Removing the Old Numbers


  1. Peel off the old numbers.
  2. To remove the sticky residue, use 3M Adhesive Cleaner. Apply solvent to a soft cloth and rub over the adhesive until the solution can soak in. Leave the sail for a bit while the solvent soaks in.
  3. Using a terry cloth or other soft towel, scrub off the glue residue.

Adding New Numbers


When adding your new numbers or insignia, be sure to refer to class rules on where to position the markers on your sail.

  1. Allow the sail to dry out.
  2. Starting at a short edge, peel back a small section of the backing paper. Stick the corner in the desired location on the sail and smooth it out, making sure there are no air bubbles.
  3. Working slowly, continue to peel small portions of the paper off and smooth out the Dacron. Take care on numbers with a hole, to not stretch the Dacron material as you apply it.
  4. When you are satisfied with your placement, allow the adhesive to cure for 24 hours. After this time, the glue will be permanent.

You can find adhesive remover, sail numbers, insignia material and more at

Have you ever had to remove or install sail numbers? Do you have any helpful tricks for the process? Share your thoughts and ideas in the comments!

1 comment
  1. Will said:

    Very helpful post. I just took of my main’s sail numbers using this method.

    I recommend that the user where a 3M mask to handle the noxious fumes as well as doing the work outdoors or in an extremely well ventilated area.

    I also found that it was helpful to soak the numbers in a puddle of the solvent. I used a plastic putty knife to scrape off the glue and used paper towels, which are disposable, to mop the residue.

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