How to Fold a Sail (Mainsail or Headsail) For safe Storage


I have always jealously regarded the “racers” who fold their expensive sails so lovingly and meticulously after doing battle on the seas. It is an art I have never fully mastered being a somewhat impatient and clumsy chap.

Not-with-standing my inadequacies I grabbed some of bookshelf sailing references. Here is what I found out about how to successfully fold my new Tanzer 26 mainsail that I recently purchased from Precision Sails.

Knowing how to fold a sail correctly will make your sails last longer and make them easier to set. Replacement sails are an investment and folding them properly is important to their longevity.

Remember that folds and creases create stress areas on the sailcloth on the fiber level. You want to make neat folds that will lay flat in the bag to prevent wear and eventually tear.

As one could rightly conclude it is much better to do your folding on the lawn of your club or dock than doing so on a pitching, heaving fore-deck holding on for dear life.

But even in those conditions, effective and fast sail-folding basics can help getting a sail back in the bag and put down below.

Here Is How You Can Fold Your Main Sail or Head Sail.

If you can fold the sail on a lawn or at the dock, stretch out the sail as much as possible. If you are folding on deck, stretch the foot and have a helper pull the body of the sail out of the way. It’s really a two-person job.

With one person at the tack and another at the clew, stretch the foot of the sail taught. As the sail is triangular, in order to keep the luff stacked, you need to take larger folds on the tack end and smaller folds at the clew end. This will enable it to be taken out of the bag and raise it smoothly next time you use it.

Each person grabs the sail, and the folders pull the length of sail taught against each other, then fold it over on top of the foot. The person on the luff guides the process keeping track of the size of the folds.

When you reach the head of the sail, fold the head over to lay it on top of the sail. This way it will be easier to find. A neatly folded sail should be hooked up and easily set without fully opening the sail bag.

The same method works for folding a mainsail on the boom or folding a head sail for putting in a  Genoa bag . It helps to have additional hands to hold the folds in the middle during folding. Let the main folders on each end create the fold by pulling the sail taught against each other. Adjust folds as necessary so that the battens lay flat on the boom. Nice wide strapping is required.

It is especially important to make sure your sails are dry before you do the final folding and put them away for the winter. It is important to maintain your sails and check them over regularly for damage.  Preventative maintenance really pays off in the long term.

nicely folded sail

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