Here at Sailrite®, we want you to be well-prepared, self-reliant sailors. Rips and tears happen in sails, battens fall out, and hardware comes free. With the right knowledge and tools, you can make repairs and fixes to your own sails, both in emergency situations and carefully on the docks. We’re going to share a multi-part series here on the blog with repair techniques for fixing the most common problems. Today, we’re focusing on small rips and holes.
We’re defining a “small” rip or hole as a hole 6 inches or under and a rip 12 inches or under. Small rips and holes like this can easily be patched. If your sail has a large rip, you’ll want to consider why the rip occurred before patching it. If the rip was caused by damage, you can use a large patch or even replace the entire panel of the sail. If the rip was more spontaneous, it’s likely that your sailcloth is getting worn and it might be time to consider replacing the sail altogether.
The instructions below are for making permanent repairs to your sail. If you’re in an emergency situation and you need a temporary repair until you can take the time to sew a proper patch, we recommend using adhesive backing strips. Sailrite stocks Dacron®, Laminate and Ripstop repair tapes that you can affix to both sides of your rip as a fast patch. Patches should be sewn on later to better secure and more permanently fix your tear.
For your patch fabric, use the same fabric (or a slightly lighter weight) that your sail is made out of. Non-adhesive backed tapes can be convenient for patch applications. Their smaller size makes them easy to work with and easy to store.
For this repair you’ll need:
- Patch fabric
- Basting Tape
- Zigzag sewing machine
How to Patch a Rip or Hole in a Sail
- Cut a patch that is 1” larger than the rip on all sides.
- Using Seamstick basting tape, baste the patch in place. If you’re repairing a rip, try to keep the ripped sides as close together as possible.
- Sew around the perimeter of the patch with zigzag stitches.
- Turn the sail over. Carefully cut out the frayed, ripped edges of the fabric so a clean edge is left next to the stitches. Doing this step last helps to maintain the shape of your sail.
Here’s a video that shows this same process being done on a rip in a spinnaker. Since the rip is close to the edge of this sail, you’ll notice we add extra stay tape along the edge of the sail to nicely finish that side of the patch.
You can find all the necessary sail repair tools and materials, including our Sail Repair Manual written by Sailrite founder, Jim Grant, at Sailrite.com.
Be sure to keep an eye out for the subsequent posts in our sail repair series that will be coming out in the coming months. Subscribe to the blog to be sure you don’t miss a post!