Why is this necessary? I don't have a clue.
I asked another sailor about this topic of new sail care the previous weekend and he quoted no less an authority then Ed Adams as saying that such gentle treatment of a new sail extended its useful racing life by at least 50%. But my friend couldn't explain what this method actually does physically to the sail to boost its longevity.
Anyone know the answer? Why can't you just go and take out a new Laser sail in 25 knots? What harm would it actually do to the shape of the sail? What is actually happening to the sail fabric in the traditional breaking-in method? And do sailors of other classes care for their new sails the same way? Or is it just the crappy fabric used in Laser sails that needs this kid-glove treatment?
In desperation I turned to The Google and uncovered basically the same question posted in the archives of the Laser email list, from the good old days of the Laser on-line community when larger-than-life characters like drLaser and LaserBabee roamed the land. The question was in fact posted by the legendary LaserBabee in 1999...
I have a new sail I intend to start using in a few weeks. A couple years ago there was a letter from Dan Neri of North Sails posted on the list that explained all about the proper method for breaking in a new Laser sail. All I remember is the part about reaching back and forth for a couple hours in moderate winds.There were no replies to the post.
Does anybody have a copy of the letter or does anybody know why reaching back and forth for two or three hours would help my new sail??
So here is an opportunity for all you expert sailors, armchair sailmakers, sailing geeks, and folk who just like to spout on topics on which you know little and understand less. What is the physics of all this "breaking in" of Laser sails? What does it actually do to the fibers in the sail? Or is it all some urban legend like the port tiller rule?