Flake the Mainsail
Flaking is not the best way to stow your sail but it has its advantages. The best ways to stow your main sail is—
1. Exactly how your sailmaker tells you or even better, shows you.
2. Take the sail off the boom gently and roll it gently.
(2.5 if you happen to have a roller furling boom that works, do that)
3. Roll it from the head down to the boom and tie it to the boom.
Each of the methods above have different techniques with faults and benefits.
4. Flaking the main on the boom, is practical in a very specific situation.
The method that I am about to explain is really good for polyester sails (dacron) that are not too new, with slugs or slides (no rope luffs), full or partial battens, and generally on boats that are kept in the water, when the boom is stored on the boom under a sail cover.
It is easiest at the dock or in a slip, or at anchor or mooring, and in mild conditions. Sometimes it is necessary to get the sail down in a hurry in which case neatness might not be he highest priority, but once it is down and the weather lets up even a little bit this is how I do it.
1. Get the sail under control, usually easiest on the downwind side of the boom.
2. Secure the boom in an accessible horizontal position with a topping lift or pig-tail and use the tension of the mainsheet to keep the boom from wiggling too much.
3. If you have a traveler position the boom in the position that allows you to reach the sail over the boom the easiest. make sure you have easy access to your sail ties, either around your neck or in your belt or in the hands of your helper.
4. Here is the trick, start at the back of the boom.
5. Grab the leech of the sail about a foot or two from the boom and pull it back from the mast, this straightens out most of the wrinkles. This is the first flake. Lay the first flake over the boom so that six to twelve inches of sail is hanging on one side. The size of the flake depend on the stiffness of the sail and the size of the sail cover.
6. Grab the next flake and pull it back away from the mast, then lay the flake on the boom will about the same amount of sail hanging down as the first flake. The second flake may be a little more difficult because you have to hold the first flake on the boom and don’t let it fall or change position.
7. Grab the next flake and do the same thing. Pull it back from the mast. At this point it may be difficult to hold the flakes on the boom so use your first sail tie to secure the flakes to the boom.
8. If possible the battens should be parallel to the boom and ideally laying on the boom.
9. As soon as it gets difficult to hold the flake on the boom you need another sail tie.
10. If you take your time and pull each flake back while watching for double folds or other wrinkles the sail will flake down smooth and even. Your sail cover will cover the sail easily.