your main sail should be protected with a sail-cover a UV
protective strip is the usual way to keep the sun away from
load-bearing cloth in a furled headsail.
they will compromise the shape of a reefed sail by padding out the
leech and foot, thereby encouraging a fuller luff, which is why true
racing boats never have UV strips.
However, for the average cruising
sailor a lightweight, UV material sewn onto leech of a sail is more
convenient than stowing the sails at the end of every cruise or
hoisting a sock over the rolled sail.
do go have a look at other boats you might notice that many of the UV
strips are not cut ‘on the bias’ but along the grain.
So you might be tempted to just cut your material down the
length of the roll.
All very well if you have a sail loft and are working on a
nice new sail.
But sewing long lengths can be difficult if you are trying to
do this at home on a domestic sewing machine.
Many of these cloths, sail
cloth in particular, are as slippery and difficult to work
with as a politician, especially if using a domestic sewing machine,
(not that I've ever used a sewing machine on a politician, been tempted
So, working on small sections makes life much easier.
And on a large sail the extra stretchiness along the length of
the strip (from cutting on the bias) helps keep the strain off the
However, the edges of bias cut material are more likely to
fray, so when cutting the cloth use a hot knife, it will seal the
And it is best to turn the edges under, it will make the edges
thicker for stitching but.....
The other thing is that many sails have a ‘hollow’ leech, one
that is slightly curved.
So, if you want to fold the strip around the leach it will be
easier to do in this in short sections.
each section stretch it
out on a board or table, pin
it or clamp it to keep it flat then use either glue or double sided
tape to hold it in place.
The glue is just to hold it in place while you run it through
the machine, so preferably a glue that remains flexible when set and
allows time for adjustment.
Removing old glue, when it comes to replacing the strip, can
be a problem.
one advantage of
a spray on glue over the back of the
patch is that it helps prevent the strip filling with air when
If you prefer not to use glue then some diagonal stitching
across the strip will help reduce the possibility of the strip filling
with air and billowing.
Before you take it to the sewing machine, pull the sail out
and stretch it into its normal shape to check that that there is no
tension in the UV strip.
You'll need to use a reasonably good sewing machine with
Corners, where there are multiple layers of reinforcing
patches will have to be hand stitched.
An alternative possibility is a product called ‘Tedlar®’ this
is a Polyvinyl Fluoride Film which is made by Dupont.
Apparently it is very light weight, flexible and clear so if
you have colored sail it will allow the colour of the sails to show
It can also be bought as a narrow sticky tape, which might be
worth considering as a way of covering that trailing edge.
I am perfectly aware that the majority of Wooden Boat aficionados are sensible folk. However, I need to point out that I am an amateur wooden boat enthusiast simply writing in order to try to help other amateur wooden boat enthusiasts. And while I take every care to ensure that the information in DIY Wood Boat.com is correct, anyone acting on the information on this website does so at their own risk.