This time we join our equipment guru for his top tips on selecting a second hand sail.

First a reminder why BR - (Skip to the sail tips - click here)

Austrian freestyler, fin manufacturer and, now, custom board builder, Max ‘BR’ Brinnich is perhaps one of the most hands on windsurfers out there. With just a few windsurfers ever having undertaken the task of building their own board, BR is certainly a person to listen to when you want advice about what board to choose and why. What’s more he has often repaired the equipment of many of the PWA freestylers, sometimes even overnight during PWA competitions. Over to BR.

The hard facts

So you wanna get yourself a used sail? The first thing I got to tell you is to check the normal new price in a shop, most of the sails cost at least 600 Euros. So if it’s just a bit used, not even one season old and looks brand new you won't get it for 200 Euro's. Always keep this in mind and try not to pressure the guy who is selling the sail too much without before seeing it in real life. I have really noticed many people contacting me for my used sails, they don’t even check the pictures and want a better price, that’s just not cool, or fair. So do your research and check the sail out first, it will mean you get something you are truly happy with in the end.

Click on the next page for the first top tip.

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Don't miss last weeks feature - 12 Top Tips for selecting a second hand board

If you want tips on what boards to select make sure you head to our previous feature with BR - click on the photo below.

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Selecting second hand gear can always be a bit of a nerving process. You are about to fork out 100's, maybe 1000's, of Euro's so you will want every bit of advice you can get. This is where we can help, with the assistance of BR, you now have yourself a very informative check list.

Do you have any more top tips for buying second hand gear? Let everyone know in the comments below.

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Here is what I learned in the last years whilst I was working and repairing in the biggest shop in Austria.

1. Listen to your Sail

When you pull it out of the bag and unroll it, the monofilm tends to have a crackly sound if it is really used. It is kind of obvious, even to the untrained ear. Be careful though, all monofilm makes a crackly sound, new or old but this is much sharper.

2. Touch and Feel the Monofilm

Does it feel strong still? Normally the x-ply will be ok, whilst the monofilm may have worn, gone brittle and thin. If the x-ply feels worn and tired but the monofilm doesn't then it is likely the monofilm panel was changed.

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3. Dents/Cracks

It’s normal to have a few small nicks from rigging the sail, but it there are more than a few big ones, you should be careful. It is likely it will be ok for one season but when during that season as the sun makes the monofilm harder, it will eventually break easier where the sail is already weak.

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4. Sail Colour

It may be stupid but is does it look bleached out? This means it was exposed to the sun a lot, which reduces the lifetime of a sail massively. So you should ask yourself if the price is good enough for a short term sail. Obviously second hand is second hand so it will always look used, this is where your research helps. How much is the sail at full retail, how much are similar sails selling for. Be aware that one brand may sell better than another due to the materials, manufacturing process and demand.

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5. Ex-team Rider Sails

These can be a good option to go for, normally you can snap up a bargain and a whole quiver of matching sails, masts and booms whilst you are at it. It's a good habit to get into, turning over your gear on an annual basis, it keeps it fresh and a high re-sale value. If you build a good relationship with a team rider for a brand you like then it is a good way to secure an annual turnover of gear, maybe you can be cheeky and tell him/her in advance to take care of 'your' gear. If you buy a sail from any kind of team or pro rider be sure of one thing, that there isn't anything hidden under those sponsor stickers. Normally if the sticker is in an unusual place it is a bit of a give away. Damage to a sail is not the end of the world, they are cheap to fix, but it does give you a good bargaining tool.

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6. Dacron

Check the dacron for white scratches. A few are normal, but if there are more white parts than the original sail colour you better leave it. Dacron is a weak and cheap material, it has its uses in a sail but, particularly to make sure we all get the light weight sails we want, be wary of well used and very stretched dacron.

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7. Batten Pockets and Battens

Check if battens can still be tightened. Check for any rips in the pocket and most importantly check all the battens are in working order, nothing snapped or about to snap. This is where rigging the sail is crucial, you can tell if a batten is about to snap, it no longer looks like the sail has a smooth constant profile.

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8. The Edges, Scrim, Padding, Batten Key

Give the sail a quick once over around the edges. Loose threads, whilst a bit unnerving, are rarely an issue and are common in many new used sails. Most importantly, ask yourself does the sail look like it was dragged 500m over asphalt?

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9. Rig It

It is likely you will buy a mast/boom with the sail, if not you will have a mast already for it, so rig it. Do you get the loose leech in the right position if you trim it like it’s written on the sail (+-a few cm)? Do the battens rotate when you mount the boom like recommended (+- a few cm)? How does it look overall? Creases or folds where they shouldn't be.

Also rigging allows for one final key test, is the mast sleeve completely intact. Meaning can you get the mast all the way to the top of the sail without it getting caught in some ripped stitching inside. Often a common repair on used sails and one that is quite costly. There are one or two sail brands that put their stitching on the outside of the mast sleeve (Sailloft, Ezzy, etc..), you will never have this problem with these sails.

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10. The Right Mast

Make sure you have the right mast for the sail, the best sail can look and feel completely useless if rigged on the wrong mast. You don't necessarily need the mast of the manufacturer (although this is definitely best), you just need the right mast curve/bend, you'll find those details on the manufacturers website.

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Next Week - Fins

Join us next week when BR will focus on his true passion, windsurfing fins. We will get the low down on what makes a fin fit for its purpose.

Do you have any more top tips for buying second hand gear? Let everyone know in the comments below.

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