Thinking about battens? Preparing for a new season is something that is on everyone’s mind. Whether you’re staging your boat to launch, planning an extended cruise, or hoisting your sails for a weeknight club race, it’s important to make sure you’ve got your battens installed properly and tensioned correctly. Checking your battens will provide better sail shape and performance – and ensure you don’t lose them after the first tack or jibe!
Sail expert Hugh Beaton from North Sails Toronto explains some important details to remember.
Proper installation for proper sail shape
Make sure the battens are inserted with the tapered (thin) end towards the luff and the stiffer (thick) end towards the leech. We sometimes see battens interested the wrong way and as a result, the sail will not have the correct draft (depth) and curvature (location of maximum depth) – so it is worth double-checking that the batten is oriented correctly.
Make sure your battens are secure
Some battens enter from the luff, others from the leech so check to make sure that the closure system where the battens have been inserted has been properly secured. For North Sails Velcro closures, there is a specific compartment for the batten, and another for the two surfaces of Velcro to make contact. Lashing systems have another procedure to follow, as do RBS wing tip end caps. In all cases, correct installation will keep the battens securely in place for the season.
Correct tension creates a smooth sail
Your batten tension also needs to be looked at. If there is insufficient tension there will be a number of vertical wrinkles along the length of the batten. If there is too much tension there will be visible horizontal tension pulling along both sides of the pocket, with the fabric looking stressed. When the tension is correct, the batten pocket is smooth and correctly supports the designed flying shape of the sail.
Thanks to North Sails for this article. Please reach out to your local North Sails representative for guidelines and instruction on how to make sure your battens are loaded correctly and your sails are ready for the season.