Keven Talks Sails: Headsail UV Covers


Aug 26, 2021

Did I ever mention how much I like headsail furling? I’ve been club racing our 30’ cruising boat lately, and it has been easily the equal to two more crew members on board. When you are double handing with a now 14 year old, with a spinnaker (Asymmetric in a Sock), the headsail furling is the only thing that keeps us from sailing off the course to handle sails.

Problems with Furling

UV, UV, UV, Weight, and Need to Resew. These really are the problem with furling sails. There are lots of combinations that work, one of the simplest is to not leave the sail up on the furling. Don’t laugh, it really works: zero weight, the sail stays clean and fresh, but it can be inconvenient if you are short crewed or lazy. I did this for years, but my crew members are now busy with sail coaching or racing their Laser these days.

CoverSo what is the next option? A Zip Up Jib Sock. This is my personal solution since I despise having the extra weight of a cover on the leech of my sail, and I spend half of my sailing between a genoa and a small jib. It costs about the same as having UV covers sewn on to two sails, so the cost is about neutral in my case, and it isn’t that much work to hoist up after sailing. Honestly, it is about the same amount of work as a mainsail cover. It is important to put it up tightly and with the cinch cords correctly adjusted, so there is a possibility of user error.

If you are forgetful or lazy, get a sewn on UV cover. Every time you furl, the sail is protected. The negative is the weight of the cover weighs down the leech in lighter wind, and the cover can get beaten up if you tack often. The sail will require regular service and resewing to keep the cover in good shape.

PaintedThere is a last option to consider is painted on UV protection. There are some elastomeric paints that can work on very stiff and heavy large yacht sails where the expected lifespan is a year or two, but don’t provide long lasting durable protection on light and flexible small to moderate sized sails.

Next issue I will discuss the different cover material options for these UV covers.

Keven Piper





 Keven Piper – Sailmaker, Bay Sails, Hamilton, Ontario

Keven Piper, two-time Shark 24 World Champion, founded Hamilton, ON-based Bay Sails in 1998.


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