This project is a companion to my previous project, How to Add Numbers to a Sail. If you need to add or replace your sail numbers, you might also need to add or replace the class insignia too. Or maybe you want to add a company logo to your sail or a graphic that illustrates the sailboat’s name. Whatever shape you want to add to your sail, the basic process is the same. In this post, I’ll describe how to make the classic Catalina 22 mainsail class insignia for half the cost of retail.
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You can cut class insignias and logos from self-adhesive polyester sailcloth that is available in different colors. Our friends at Sailrite offer the primary colors red, green, blue, black and white by the 54″ wide yard but not by the foot, unfortunately. That’s the bad news. A yard is much more than you will need for most insignias. But they do offer white in smaller widths intended for sailmaking and repairs. The good news is that if you buy a yard of insignia cloth, depending on how much you use for your class insignia, you’ll likely have enough left over to make your sail numbers too.
For straight lines, you can use 1″ wide draft tape available in red, blue, and black that Sailrite offers by the foot. (In case you’re wondering, I receive no compensation from Sailrite. I just like their products and services and think you will too.)
Draw, cut, peel, and stick
Here is how I applied insignias to a new Rolly Tasker mainsail that I recently purchased.
1. You can draw your insignia’s shapes on the right side of the sailcloth with a pencil and it will erase easily later. You can also draw with ink on the release paper on the back of the sailcloth, which has helpful grid lines printed on it—just remember to draw the reverse shape.
If you want to make the classic Catalina 22 class insignia like I show here, I’ve already done your homework for you. Go to my Downloads page where you can download full-size drawings of the letter C (cut two per sail) and the number 2 (cut four) that are the exact shape and size of the classic insignia. (Note that the insignia numbers are smaller and a different font than the sail numbers that are sold by Sailrite.) All you need to do is cut them out and voilà, you have templates (like shown above)! The file also includes a dimensioned drawing of the whole insignia that you can use to faithfully reproduce all the sizes, spaces, and angles just like the original insignia.
2. Cut out the shapes with regular scissors. A hot knife is not necessary, the cloth won’t unravel.
3. Determine where to place the insignias relative to the sail’s other features (seams, battens, reef points, numbers, and draft stripe, if any). Avoid placing insignias over seams that can cause wrinkles and can cause the insignias to come loose over time. Choose a location where the insignias for each side of the sail will be vertically stacked over each other, not in the same location on each side. This makes the insignias easier to see when sunlight shines from behind the sail. A good choice is one insignia above a panel seam on one side of the sail and the other insignia below the same seam on the opposite side of the sail similar to the picture below.
To maintain class racing eligibility, refer to the racing rules for the class or your local race authority. For Catalina 22 owners, the latest class rules (October 2014) do not require class insignias. Some local clubs adopt The Racing Rules of Sailing that are updated every four years by the World Sailing organization. The rules for sail numbers and class insignia can be found in Appendix G: Identification on Sails.
Unless specified in the rules that govern the races that you participate in, you can place the insignias anywhere you like but they are typically placed in the top 60% of the sail with the class insignia above the sail numbers. The goal of all these rules is so that a sailboat can be easily identified from a distance under most conditions even if the sail is reefed..
4. Use a pencil to draw a light centerline on the sail through the areas where you will place the insignias. This will help you to center the insignias evenly.
5. With the backing paper still on the insignia pieces, lay out the entire insignia on the centerline of the sail until you’re satisfied with the layout.
6. Draw light guidelines or registration marks on the sail with a pencil to help you place the insignia pieces after you remove the backing paper.
7. Fold back the backing paper from one long edge of each shape. You want to expose just enough of the adhesive so that you can place the shape without it sticking completely.
8. Place the exposed edge lightly on the sail using your guidelines or registration marks. Be careful to not make any bubbles. If necessary, you can remove and reposition the shape until it lays straight and flat.
9. Turn the unattached part of the shape face down on the sail and with a piece of stiff cardboard or other material, press against the inside of the fold to simultaneously peel the backing paper from the rest of the shape while you lightly press the newly exposed adhesive down onto the sail. If you do this right, you won’t get any wrinkles, bubbles, or distortion. Take your time and reposition the shape until you get it right.
10. When you have all of the pieces where you want them, roll them firmly with a J roller if you have one. You can improvise one with a short length of dowel used like a rolling pin.
You’re done! Now you can represent your sailboat class with pride.
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