What is wrong with my sail?


Aug 20, 2019
San Juan 21 Lake
Have a Hunter 26 and my sail looks off, I am not sure why though. I have raised it to the point the winch won't crank anymore but it seems like it isn't catching wind well. The pics below were sailing in 10-14k wind

Have only had my H26 for a few months and the sailing season was short here so I am not real familiar with the boat. Is the sail blown out? Am I doing something wrong?

Oct 22, 2014
CAL 35 Cruiser moored EVERETT WA
There is a problem.
First lets try raising the sail in a no wind condition before we let panic set in.

In one of the images I see the Topping lift is tight. This is raising the end of the boom. When the sail is rained the topping lift should be easier so that the sail holds the boom. this stretches the sail out to it's full and glorious size.

If you raise the sail with no wind you should be able to raise the sail till the halyard shackle reaches the top of the mast. As sometimes happens the halyard can become fouled around another line. You need to assure that the halyard runs free from the sail headboard to the sheave at the top of the mast. Anything in the way will frustrate your raising of the sail. If the halyard is running free, you should be able to raise the sail by hand to within a foot of the mast top. No need for a winch till the sail is nearly at the top.

Once the sail is at the top of the mast you can shape the luff (pull out that pouch about 3-4 feet above the boom) by pulling down on the Cunningham. This tulles the boom down at the mast. You can adjust the height giving your sail a flatter or add ab bit of belly, depending on your intended trim.

Finally we trim the middle of the sail by adding or subtracting tension on the "vang". Your vang is that block and tackle hanging from the boom about 2-3 feet from the mast.

Do the raising at the dock in no wind. Step back and take a picture of all of the sail, in no wind. Capture the mast top to the boat deck and all of the boom. Lie on the deck and shoot up the sail so you have an image shown the way the sail is fitting the rig.

Good luck.
Jan 1, 2006
Slickcraft 26 Greenport, NY
The topping lift is at least part of the problem. It should be slack. The luff of the sail isn't tight. That could be because there is too much friction in the sail track. It looks like the bolt rope is in the track so that system is sensitive to friction. Try spraying the boltrope with McLube or other dry lube and get as much as you can in the sail track. Some have raised a "Wetted" rag in the track - I've never done that. Mostly I've just sprayed as the sail is being raised. The other reason you may not be able to put enough tension in the luff is that the boltrope has shrunk (Or Luff of sail stretched). A sailmaker can ease that. I don't think you want to spend too much on this sail.
Apr 8, 2010
Ericson Yachts Olson 34 28400 Portland OR
If the sail is that baggy when fully hoisted, and the top. lift is slack, then you have a way-too-typical used-up sail. That's common for used boats where the PO decided to sell the boat rather than replace shot sails.

OTOH, when you got a great price (you did, we presume) that was just one more expense that you knew was coming up soon as you start in a backlog of "deferred maintenance" . :(

Also, the jib is not hoisted all the way up at all.

The good news: new sails will perform so darned well that it will seem like a new boat! :)


Apr 2, 2013
Catalina 310 Niagara-on-the-Lake
Can't really tell looking on a phone, but maybe you have broken sail slides/slugs.
UV will weaken these plastic pieces. I've had to replace some recently, after a particularly robust event... My main looked like the picture.
Oct 19, 2017
O'Day 19 Littleton, NH
Also, the jib is not hoisted all the way up at all.
It looks like your jib is roller fulled and is falling out of the foil at the bottom.

I agree that the tight topping lift is preventing the boom from lowering. Does the vang pull the gooseneck down any or is that stuck in the track?

-Will (Dragonfly)
Jul 7, 2004
Hunter 30T Cheney, KS
Can you tell if the sail is raised as far as it can go? From the pictures it doesn't look like the luff is fully tensioned.
Jun 25, 2004
Corsair F24 Mk1 003 San Francisco Bay, CA
There have been some very good guesses, but It’s hard to,tell,from those pictures. They showed only the area with the problem. We need to see Pictures of the rest of the sail to find the problem for you.

Unless we see more pictures, all the answers are just good guesses. My guess is that the sail in the picture is not hoisted fully for some reason, but I’d need to see pictures of the luff to confirm my guess.

yesterday, we went sailing and had a hard time hoisting the main. It got stuck 3/4 of the way up. it turns out that the topping lift was caught on the top full-length batten. We had to drop the main a few feet to fix it and then we were able to hoist it.
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Jun 1, 2004
Catalina 27 Mission Bay, San Diego
Show us a picture of the other side. We can't really tell from the angle you're presenting.