The Case of the Painted Jib

Tests show promise that a coat of paint can prolong the life of your genoa.

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Polyester sailcloth is amazingly strong and durable stuff, often completing trips around the world or decades of weekend sailing. Its Achilles heel is the sun. After just 2-3 years in the sun, depending on the latitude, it becomes so rotted by UV that its little stronger than a cotton bed sheet. Mainsails are safely bundled under a Sunbrella cover. Nylon Spinnakers are bagged and stored below. Genoas, on the other hand, remain furled on the headstay, often year round, with the last 12 inches of the leach and foot continuously exposed.
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Darrell Nicholson, editor of Practical Sailor, grew up boating on Miami’s Biscayne Bay on everything from prams to Morgan ketches. Two years out of Emory University, after a brief stint as a sportswriter, he set out from Miami aboard a 60-year-old wooden William Atkin ketch named Tosca. For 10 years, he and writer-photographer Theresa Gibbons explored the Caribbean, crossed the Pacific, and cruised Southeast Asia aboard Tosca, working along the way as journalists and documenting their adventures for various travel and sailing publications, including Cruising World, Sail, Sailing, Cruising Helmsman, and Sailing World. Upon his return to land life, Darrell became the associate editor, then senior editor at Cruising World magazine, where he worked for five years. Before taking on the editor’s position at Practical Sailor, Darrell was the editor of Offshore magazine, a boating-lifestyle magazine serving the New England area. Darrell has won multiple awards from Boating Writer’s International, including the Monk Farnham award for editorial excellence. He holds a U.S. Coast Guard 100-ton Master license and has worked as a harbor pilot and skippered a variety of commercial charter boats.

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