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Sail flaking tips

Discussion in 'Ask All Sailors' started by Phil Herring, Jul 5, 2018. Add this thread to a FAQ

  1. Phil Herring

    Phil Herring Dethroned Admin

    Joined Mar 25, 1997
    4,404 posts, 310 likes
    US Bainbridge Island
    Some skippers flake their mainsail with hospital corners, while others crumple it up and call it good. How careful are you about flaking your main and what tips you have for the neatest flake?


  2. MetricMountie


    Joined Jul 19, 2007
    202 posts, 16 likes
    -Hunter 1995-40.5 Hunter
    CA Saint Andrews, New Brunswick, Canada
    I have no tips as I'm frustrated after 3 seasons of trying to get a good flake on our main. It was purchased new three years ago and is still as stiff as the day it came out of the bag for the first time. It falls into the jacks well for the most part save for the first few feet at the rear of the boom which always manages to flop about. The fact that it's loose footed may have a lot to do with the flaking problem but I also believe that sails stay stiffer longer nowadays due to the increase in resins in the various weights of cloth used.

  3. Jackdaw


    Joined Nov 8, 2010
    9,656 posts, 2,709 likes
    Beneteau First 36.7 & 260
    US Minneapolis MN & Bayfield WI
    Full battens and a track system and it almost flakes itself. Fold at every car and battens on the boom. That's our rule and its down and pretty in 30 seconds.

    jwilcoxon78 and dziedzicmj like this.
  4. Justin_NSA


    Joined Jul 7, 2004
    5,133 posts, 962 likes
    Hunter 30T
    US Cheney, KS
    Dutchman and full battens. Also cleaned and SailKoted the slug slot when the mast was down. Comes down pretty well flaked. I'll still touch it up before I put the cover back on. No wrinkles allowed.

  5. Hayden Watson

    Hayden Watson

    Joined Apr 5, 2009
    601 posts, 129 likes
    Catalina '88 C30 tr/bs
    US Oak Harbor, WA
    I have EZ Jax and do a fast free-fall drop. For the most part, the forward end of the main flakes itself with each slid going to the opposite side. I then set the boom off to one side and pull the aft end of the sail, to take out any folds and to tidy the flakes at the back of the boom. I also loosely pull in both the 1st and 2nd reef lines to help hold the sail back and on top of the boom.

  6. jwing


    Joined Jun 5, 2014
    436 posts, 183 likes
    ODay Mariner
    US Guntersville
    As you flake the sail, pull the leach aftward. This will require you to move forward as the leach gets progressively closer to the mast.

    Kermit likes this.
  7. Pat


    Joined Jun 7, 2004
    1,247 posts, 51 likes
    Oday 272LE
    US Ninnescah Yacht Club, Wichita, Ks.
    We are having a major amount of trouble getting our Doyle Stack Pak to work correctly. When brand new it worked great, but now the sail bag always seems to get
    hung up on the lazy jack (s)...what a pain...I'm getting ready to give up on using the main which to me is terrible...why do I want to only use the headsail? Patrick in Wichita..

  8. SeaDogBoating


    Joined Oct 12, 2016
    2 posts, 3 likes
    ODay 31
    US Colchester, VT
    We have lazy jacks on our boat and they do a pretty good job except you still have to pull on the leach and clean it up a bit. Our sail maker mentioned a trick that one of his customers used. Once you have your sail flaked the way you like it, put a Red or Green mark (permanent marker) on the Port or Starboard side of your flake - just a small mark. This way when you flake your sail, it will be done the same way every time. This also makes it easy when you have guests on the boat and you can tell them that the red marks go on the port side and the green marks go on starboard. This really helps to speed up the flaking process and it is neat and tidy every time.


    Steve - Sea Dog Boating Solutions, LLC

    Last edited: Jul 28, 2018
    groggy, h2o_snow and Head Sail like this.
  9. Crazy Dave Condon

    Crazy Dave Condon

    Joined Jun 8, 2004
    7,006 posts, 701 likes
    -na -NA
    US Anywhere USA
    All good responses. Starting aft working forward pulling back with sail folded adding several ties is the trick. Anything else added as mentioned is good but costs money if you are willing to spend

  10. jon hansen

    jon hansen

    Joined May 25, 2012
    1,164 posts, 629 likes
    john alden caravelle 42
    us sturgeon bay, wis
    i do not flake, i furl my main and mizzen.

    capta likes this.
  11. EV21


    Joined Apr 29, 2016
    91 posts, 16 likes
    Macgregor 21 Venture
    US Delaware ...
    Looks like lots of good advice. Wondering whether anybody has seen (or made) some good videos that might be worth a look?

  12. Roadking Larry

    Roadking Larry

    Joined Mar 30, 2013
    634 posts, 137 likes
    Allied Seawind MK II 32'
    US Oologah Lake, Oklahoma
    I don't like to tightly flake and tie down my mainsail. When I made my sail cover a couple of years ago I made it a little oversized. I loosely flake the sail between the lazyjacks and then put the sail cover over it. no creases and plenty of airspace.

  13. rardiH36


    Joined Jun 21, 2007
    2,082 posts, 50 likes
    Hunter Cherubini 36_80-82
    US San Francisco Bay's "Hurricane Glitch"
    I generally sail solo. Quite often, with the boat under diesel power and me relying only on the auto pilot to keep "Wildaire" dead-heading into a 20kt afternoon wind in the Sausalito approach channel, I am just relieved to get the mainsail down and lashed to the boom without incident. The lazy jacks are great preventing the sail from going rogue.

    Later at the berth, before I put on the cover, I might then make a halfhearted/unenthusiastic effort to flake properly. I am of a mind that one shouldn't put the creases in the same spot every time! So I go home with a clear conscience.

    HMT2 likes this.
  14. walmsleyc


    Joined Feb 2, 2006
    381 posts, 22 likes
    Hunter Legend 35
    CN Kingston
    I've got a fairly new, quite stiff mainsail. I used to have a dutchman system, but my sailmaker pleaded with me not to put the dutchman system back in. To aid in flaking the sail I ended up making little squares and little triangles of sail number material, and stuck them on the luff and leach respectively. At the luff, the little blue squares are all on the port side, and on the leach, the little triangles are all on the top of the boom when flaked properly. New an experienced crew can flake it in seconds with just some simple instructions ....


  15. Dalliance


    Joined Oct 6, 2007
    629 posts, 75 likes
    Hunter 1982 H30 Cherubini
    US Chicago (Burnham)
    I often sail solo or with inexperienced guests, so I just drop the sail into the lazy jacks, throw a couple sail ties on, and then neaten it up at the dock before putting the sail cover on. This is the third season with my new sails and they are still pretty stiff, so it sometimes takes a little extra effort to get the main nicely flaked. I try to keep the sail ties on the loose side.

  16. All U Get

    All U Get

    Joined Oct 2, 2008
    2,735 posts, 415 likes
    Pearson/ 530
    US Strafford, NH
    Long story with us but I've resigned myself to just having my wife release the halyard and get most of the main down. The sail is still stiff after 5 years of use and will resist flaking at the reef points. So I wait until we anchor, get a drink, and then pull the boom to the side of the bimini so I can adjust the cloth as I zip up the sailpack. As long as the zipper closes I call it good. We were nose into the wind most of the time last year leaving Maine and didn't raise the main sail until we got outbound from Beaufort, NC. c'est la vie

  17. nat55


    Joined Feb 11, 2017
    151 posts, 138 likes
    Gulfstar 1979 Gulfstar 37
    When Maia was new to us there were no lazy jacks and I got pretty good at dropping and flaking the main onto the boom in settled weather, if it was stinky though it became a fight that I often lost. I had our local sailmaker build us a bag system 2 years ago and it has changed my life for the better. The best part is that getting every thing put away is a much faster process allowing me to get to the important part of the day, cocktails, much earlier!

    MAIA stack pack.jpg

  18. capta


    Joined Jun 4, 2009
    2,831 posts, 914 likes
    Pearson 530
    na Admiralty Bay, Bequia SVG
    Ah, the pleasures of in mast and jib furling. The only time we flake a sail is before it goes in the bag.

  19. PaulK


    Joined Dec 1, 2009
    274 posts, 17 likes
    Tillotson Pearson J/36
    US Southport, CT
    We make large folds when we flake our loose-footed main, so that they hang down on each side of the boom. We start with a pocket on one side, then pull the sail over to make a fold on the other side so that the first reef cringle rests on top of the boom and the pockets on both sides are even. The next fold puts the bottom batten on top of the boom. The next fold has the second reef cringle, and after that it's pretty simple to match the depth of the folds with what's left of the sail. 10.jpg

  20. thinwater


    Joined Mar 26, 2011
    2,170 posts, 488 likes
    Corsair F-24 MK I
    US Deale, MD
    On my last boat (34' catamaran) I dropped it and covered it. It mostly flaked due to full battens and lazyjacks, but I didn't fuss with it. Life it too short. I speced a cover large enough that I did not need to crumple it. Easy.

    My F-24 rolls around the boom, nice for a laminate sail.

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