Sails for 420’s can be made by any sailmaker, which means there are a few options open to sailors. For a 420 sail to be class legal it must conform to the dimensions and specifications detailed in the International 420 Class rules (Section G) and have a Sail Sticker on it from the International 420 Class. See Sail Sticker and button numbers
420 Sail measurement
Most 420 sails come premeasured by the sailmaker. This is via the World Sailing In-House Equipment Certification (IHC) Programme which is a scheme whereby certified manufactures can measure sails themselves. Sails made by a sailmakers not in the IHC programme need to be measured by an official sail measurer, however all of the popular sailmakers used in the 420 class are part of this programme. There are a few RYA Certified Sail measurers in the 420 UK class.
420 Sail Identification - and kite numbering tips
One of the most important requirements relating to 420 sails is that they must have the correct sail numbers on them! The sail numbers on the mainsail, must be in red and should match your hull number. If the number on your mainsail is not correct you can easily remove the existing numbers by peeling them off and replacing with new numbers available from any good sailing chandlery.
For the placement of sail numbers on the mainsail, please read the Racing Rules of Sailing Appendix G (https://www.sailing.org/tools/documents/WSRRS20212024FinalwithChgsandCorrecns201113-%5B26798%5D.pdf) and Class rule C.10.3.1
Mainsails used in women’s only events shall carry a red rhombus. See Class rule C.10.3.1 (c)
Mainsails should also carry our National Letters (GBR) as per Class rule C.10.3.1
The last mainsail identification item sometime required is a National Flag of the helm. This is only really found in the Notice of Race for certain International championships, such as the 420 Junior Europeans and the 420 Worlds. Details on flag specification and placement can be found in Class rule C.10.3.1 (e). Historically it’s been possible to purchase ‘Union Jack’ flag stickers from the British International 420 Class Association for the teams travelling to the Worlds and Euro’s.
Sail numbers on spinnakers are now optional for National level events, such as the Grand Prix events and UK Championships. They are needed however at World and European Championships. The rules on spinnaker identification can be found in Class rule C.10.5.1.
The simplest way to number a spinnaker is to use a black marker pen. Ensure it’s a newish one, so you don’t run out halfway through and plan ahead as doing this job in the comfort of you own home is a lot easier that in a wet dinghy park! You only need the numbers on the spinnaker, ‘GBR’ is optional so why waste extra ink and time!
Place your spinnaker over a mainsail (with the correct number on it!!) and once centrally positioned carefully and lightly trace around the outline of each number. Once you’ve done this, roll up your mainsail and place a piece of cardboard or similar below the spinnaker to stop the ink coming through onto your lounge carpet! Colour in each letter. Important! – do not fold up a newly coloured in spinnaker before the ink is dry!
As mentioned above, any sailmaker can make sails for a 420, however there are a few makers whose designs are currently popular in the UK. Each one of these can help to ensure that the sails you choose are right for your crew weight as most provide a few options. The key difference between different designs is often the fullness of the mainsail, with flatter sail profiles for lighter weight teams and deeper cut sails for heavier weights.
North Sails – 420 sails are made in Japan
6-7 Fareham Business Park, Lederle Lane, Gosport, Hampshire PO13 0LF
Insta – north_sails
Olimpic – 420 sails are made in Italy
Str. delle Saline, 11, 34015 Muggia TS, Italy
+39 040 232363
P&B – 420 sails are made in the UK
Kings Heath, Northampton, NN5 7QP
Insta - pinnellbax
Zaoli – 420 sails are made in Italy
“Marina degli Aregai”, S.Stefano Mare, (IM) Italy
+39 0184 481115
Insta – zaolisails
With the top 420 teams regularly changing sails, there are often some second-hand bargains to be had. It’s often possible to find sails that are only a year old or even a few races old at prices significantly lower than new. Look out on 420 social media sites for adverts and it’s always worth asking the top sailors if they have any sails for sale – they probably will!