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If you’ve had the issue of the sail pulling out of the mast track, particularly with the Square Top mainsail which puts more strain on the mast foot, this simple mod is the solution.
You will need at least 30cm of aluminium sail track used for the 29er and 49er and distributed by Ovington Boats to 9’er dealers worldwide. Usually available in 1m or 3m lengths.
Mark and vertically cut end of the segment of plastic mast track you plan to replace, allowing for the section that is inserted in the sail feeder at the end of the track. Remove the section to be replaced using a blunt blade – I used a paint scraper – to avoid digging into the mast. Clean off any remaining adhesive with a sharp blade held lightly against the mast at 45 degrees.
Roughen both mast track area and alloy segment of track with 400 wet and dry paper to provide grip for the adhesive. Clean all surfaces with Methylated Spirits/Ethanol/Acetone.
Cut a section of the alloy track to match the old segment and line up the alloy section on the mast so it meets the existing track and sail feeder – if the slot is too wide, you can close it up with a vice or pair of vice grips/pliers to give more grip on the sail. Use a screwdriver to open it up if required.
Use a flexible marine adhesive/sealant such as Skaflex 291, 3M 5200 or Fixtech Fix2. Don’t use epoxy or other permanent adhesive because you may need to replace the track in the future. Apply adhesive and tape in place while curing.
Tip #1: To reduce the strain on the track, hoist or lower the mainsail with the gennaker halyard eased to allow the mast tip to flex and keep the mast strap fastened.
Tip #2: Don’t undo the mast strap before dropping the sail or removing the halyard from the V-cleat. First drop or ease the gennaker halyard to allow the mast tip to flex. Then pull on the halyard and take it to one side to remove the knot or swage on the leader from the V-cleat. Then pull the sail down and once it starts to exit the track you can undo the mast strap.
Tip #3: Roll the sail as it exits the mast track and remove the top batten as this makes it easier to roll the head and insert it into the sail bag.
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