Are used racing sails suitable for cruising?

Are used racing sails suitable for cruising scaled

When outfitting a cruising sailboat, the question often arises: Are used racing sails a good fit for cruising? While there are benefits to using these high-performance sails, several factors need consideration.

Performance boost

Used racing sails can provide a noticeable performance boost. Designed for speed and efficiency, they are often made from advanced materials like carbon fiber or Kevlar. Even as second-hand items, they can enhance your boat’s speed and ability to sail close to the wind. For cruisers looking to improve their sailing performance, used racing sails can be an attractive option.

Cost savings

One of the main advantages of opting for used racing sails is the cost savings. Brand new racing sails are expensive, but purchasing them second-hand can provide high-quality sails at a fraction of the price. This can be a budget-friendly way to upgrade your sail inventory.

Durability concerns

However, used racing sails come with durability concerns. Racing sails are designed for peak performance over short periods, not the prolonged exposure to varying conditions typical in cruising. As they are already worn, their lifespan might be significantly shorter. You’ll need to inspect them carefully for signs of wear and tear, such as delamination or weakened stitching.

Maintenance and handling

Used racing sails require careful handling and maintenance. They might not be as easy to manage as traditional cruising sails, needing frequent adjustments and repairs. This can be a challenge for cruisers who prefer a more relaxed short-handed sailing experience.

Other things to consider:

  • Racing sails are often designed for a specific wind range; cruising sails will need to go across a large range;
  • Racing sails will not have UV protection patches and foam to make furling easier; in some cases, racing sails will be damaged while furling or will not furl at all.


While used racing sails can offer performance and cost benefits for cruisers, they also bring potential downsides in durability and maintenance. Weighing these factors carefully will help determine if they are the right choice for your cruising needs.

Resail, there is always a second life for sails!