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Not All Line is Equal: How to Choose the Right Line for the Job

With the wide array of rope available today and continuous technological advances in line design, deciding on the best rope for each use can be baffling. Use this guide to ensure you choose the right rope for each application. 

sailboat jib sheets

Using the proper line for each use isn’t just important for performance; it’s also important for keeping your sails safe. Break a sheet or lose a halyard while sailing, and you’ll likely find yourself breaking out your onboard sail repair kit or ending the race and heading to the loft for repairs. Our service team details what you need to know about the line options available, how they’re made, and how to choose the right one. At Quantum, we’re big fans of New England Ropes . They make a great product and have an option for just about every sailor and type of sailing. All of our examples and recommendations below are from the New England Ropes collection. 

COMMON ROPE FIBER

sailboat jib sheets

POLYESTER (PET)

  • PROS: Polyester is a great option for applications that require strength, durability, and low stretch. PET is moderately priced, and there are lots of colors available. 
  • CONS: Polyester is low stretch, but it does stretches a lot compared to it's higher priced cousins, both initially and over time. It is heavy, and absorbs water easily. PET has poor abrasion resistance and a fairly low break strength compared to the diameter. The strength of the line relies on both the outer cover and inner core. When either of those loses strength or has an abrasion, the overall strength of the line is reduced.
  • EXAMPLE: Sta-Set

sailboat jib sheets

Aramid (Technora®, Twaron®, Kevlar®)

  • PROS: Aramid is a popular low stretch material with great heat resistance and strength.
  • CONS: Aramid has a low UV resistance and does not bend around sharp edges well.
  • EXAMPLE: T-900

sailboat jib sheets

Liquid Crystal Polymer (Vectran®)

  • PROS:  Vectran® is an extremely low stretch material with a very high breaking strength, and it is the only line with zero creep. Vectran® also has high heat resistance. Overall, it is lightweight and doesn’t absorb water. The cover can be stripped for weight saving. Vectran® comes in a selection of colors. 
  • CONS: Vectran® does not have great durability or high UV resistance. Stripping the cover is not recommended and will weaken the durability of the line. Vectran® doesn’t do well with sharp corner bends, so care must be taken with small sheaves and tight turns. Vectran® also has a high price point.
  • EXAMPLE: V-100

sailboat jib sheets

HMPE (Spectra®, Dyneema ® )

  • PROS:  Dyneema® has strong heat resistance, excellent stretch resistance, and excellent break strength. It has the lowest stretch at the break strength of all synthetic fibers. Overall, it is lightweight, and the cover can be stripped for weight-saving. Dyneema® offers color and vendor options.
  • CONS:  Dyneema® permanently creeps over time. It also has a high price point.
  • EXAMPLE: Endura Braid

CHOOSING THE RIGHT LINE

In determining your rope priorities, start out by considering the type of sailing you’ll be doing. 

If you’re cruising on a budget, choose line with great durability and UV resistance. If treated well, polyester braids for all or most applications are a good option. With the high-load applications associated with larger cruising vessels, such as sheets and halyards, you’ll need line that can handle a heavier load than polyester braids can. A blended double braid Beltran® or Spectra® rope is a better option than polyester braids for these high-load applications. 

For club racing, ensure that the line has the proper break strength on higher load applications. Use a blended braid Vectran® or Spectra® line for the halyards, jib sheets, and guys. Avoid using polyester for these high-load applications so that you don’t have to get extra-large diameters. Polyester can be used in control lines and other lower load lines.

In Grand Prix racing, just about all of the line on the boat should be stretch resistant with a strong breaking point. Spectra®- or Vectran®-based rope is a great option for this. Many high-quality constructions of Spectra® are being made. New covers are even being made out of Spectra® and Technora®, which adds greater grip around winches and reduces abrasion to practically zero. If you’re stripping the cover on some of these lines to reduce weight, only do so on spinnaker sheets, spinnaker halyards, and other control lines where the load or use is low.

If a brand new high-load, low-stretch line is purchased for a given application, it’s a good idea to check the fittings it is running through. When ball bearings are missing, a winch or sheave doesn’t spin like it should. You hear odd noises, elongation occurs, and it’s probably time to replace or repair the deck fitting. If any fiberglass cracking or “spider webs” are appearing on deck fittings, it is a good idea to check the deck around the fitting and possibly reinforce the deck if any lamination issues have occurred. 

sailboat jib sheets

Main Halyard and Jib/Genoa Halyard 

  • PRIORITIES: Very low stretch and high break strength.
  • DESIRABLE: Light weight to reduce weight aloft.
  • IDEAL TYPES: Spectra® or Vectran® core with a spectra chafe cover close to the shackle. With the added chafe cover at the shackle, it’s nearly impossible for the sheave to tear the halyard.
  • RECOMMENDED LINE: Endura Braid , V-100 , VPC , T-900

Spinnaker Halyard 

  • PRIORITIES: A high break point is essential. Low stretch is important, but not as necessary as it is for other halyards.
  • DESIRABLE: Light weight to reduce weight aloft. 
  • IDEAL TYPES: Spectra with a chafe cover near the shackle. Spectra is a low stretch rope that handles the shock loads from the spinnaker well. The cover of the rope can be removed from a portion of the halyard that doesn’t reach the winch.
  • RECOMMENDED LINE: Endura Braid

Mainsheet 

  • PRIORITIES : Dependent on system used. On a multi-purchase system, Spectra® or polyester single braids are great options. They are strong ropes and great for grip. On a winch system, low stretch and high break strength is desirable, making Spectra double braid the best option. On a block-and-tackle purchase system, some stretch in the line is okay due to low loads per each purchase. A comfortable feel on the hands is necessary.
  • Block and Tackle: Salsa Line , Sta-Set , Nexus Pro
  • Winch: Endura Braid , Poly Tec

Jib/Genoa Sheet

  • PRIORITIES: Low stretch and high break strength is essential. 
  • TOP CHOICE: Spectra core with a high-tech cover. A high-tech material resists abrasion from winches and blocks.
  • RECOMMENDED LINE: Poly Tec , Endura Braid

Spinnaker Sheet

  • PRIORITIES: Very lightweight rope is essential, especially for lighter air. Lines that float are a great option because they don’t add extra weight from moisture absorption. 
  • DESIRABLE: Low stretch and high break strength.
  • IDEAL TYPES: Spectra core with a polyester cover. The cover can be removed from a portion of the line that doesn’t go through blocks and winches. This keeps the line light and reduces water absorption.
  • RECOMMENDED LINE:   Endura Braid , Nexus Pro , Flight Line

Guys and Tacklines

  • IDEAL TYPE: Spectra or Vectran core with a polyester cover; add a chafe cover near the shackle. The chafe cover resists chafe and abrasion from the sprit or pole end.

Control Lines

  • PRIORITIES: Depends on the application. Most control lines don’t see much use or load, so having stretchy and low break load lines is usually ok. 
  • DESIRABLE: Since most control lines are pulled manually, having a comfortable feel on the hands can be helpful. 
  • IDEAL TYPE: Spectra or polyester. Spectra can be used if wanting to remove the cover for weight reduction. Polyester is a great choice for lower load applications. 
  • RECOMMENDED LINE: Sta-Set , Endura Braid , Bzzz Line

"Dinghy and small boat mainsheet trimmers and helmsmen all choose New England Ropes Buzz Line." ©New England Ropes

Endura Braid

"Endura Braid delivers optimal performance, strength and durability for the competitive sailor. It features a specially engineered 12-strand Dyneema® core, with marine-tech coating and a 24 carrier braided polyester cover." ©New England Ropes

Flight Line

"A lightweight line perfect for light air spinnaker sheets, as well as mainsheets and control lines in smaller boats." ©New England Ropes

"Designed for today's newest one design sheets and control lines. Perfect for boats that require high tensile such as J70, Etchells, Melges, J24, and larger one-design products." ©New England Ropes

"An ideal balance of Technora® fiber and polyester and engineered to the demanding standards of riggers worldwide." ©New England Ropes

"Salsa Line from New England Ropes is an excellent main sheet for one design keelboats and large dinghies." ©New England Ropes.

"The number one polyester double braid on the market. Sta-Set is the quintessential proven performance double braid." ©New England Ropes

"A low stretch and low creep halyard option. T-900 features our pioneering blend of Dyneema® and Technora® in its core with a durable polyester jacket." ©New England Ropes

"V-100 features a braided 100% Vectran® 12-strand single braid core treated with our unique marine-tech coating with a highly durable and attractive polyester cover." ©New England Ropes

"The ultimate in high load performance. V-100 features a braided 100% Vectran® 12-strand single braid core treated with our unique marine-tech coating with a highly durable and attractive polyester cover." ©New England Ropes

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I’m looking for the best line for a centerboard pendant. Top priority is good abrasion resistance. Second would be low stretch and strength.

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The Essential Guide To A Jib Sheet

A jib sheet is an essential part of any sailing vessel. It’s a line that connects the jib sail to the cockpit, allowing sailors to control and adjust the sails as they manoeuvre their boats. This blog post will discuss everything you need to know about jib sheets, from how to tie them off to why they matter.

Key Takeaways

  • The jib sheet system includes four key components: the clew, track, blocks, and sheets.
  • Different types of jib sails, such as the genoa, working jib, and storm jib , have unique pros and cons depending on the weather conditions and sailing needs.
  • The jib sheet serves as the central control for adjusting the angle of the sail to the wind and runs through blocks attached to either side of the boat.
  • Proper trimming and tensioning of the jib sheet are crucial for maximizing performance and maneuverability.
  • Mastering jib sheet techniques can help sailors improve their speed and efficiency while sailing, as well as their control and handling capabilities.

The Anatomy of a Jib Sheet System

The jib sheet system is essential for any sailboat, as it plays a significant role in controlling the sail and manoeuvring the boat. The jib sheet system includes four key components:

The clew is located at the bottom corner of the sail, which joins with the mast and boom. It comprises two parts: an eyelet (or grommet) and a block that slides along the track. The eyelet carries two lines: one from the sail’s top corner (the head) and one from the bottom corner (the clew). These lines are attached with loops or knots on most boats to ensure a secure connection. 

The track runs along both sides of the boat, usually on either side of the cockpit. It is made up of several sections that are bolted together. Each section has small slots or grooves which allow you to adjust your clew block position according to your needs while sailing. 

The Blocks 

Blocks are connected to both ends of your jib sheet line so they can slide along your tracks as you adjust your sail trim . Blocks come in different types and sizes depending on their purpose; some will be used for heavy-duty applications, while others may only be used for light-duty purposes such as adjusting your clew block position when sailing downwind . 

Blocks are designed with strong materials like stainless steel or aluminium to withstand even harsh conditions while sailing. They also feature multiple pulleys, which help reduce friction as they slide along your tracks while you adjust your sails. This makes it much easier to change quickly during tricky sailing conditions when time is at a premium!

The sheets connect everything together – they attach directly to the blocks and give you direct control over your sail’s trimming action. The sheets will typically consist of either rope or webbing material depending on their use – rope is better suited for heavier loads. In comparison, webbing offers more flexibility for lighter loads but requires more care when handling due to its delicate nature. In addition, sheets can be “dyneema”, an ultra-lightweight material specifically designed for high-performance racing boats where every ounce counts!

Each type of jib sail has its advantages and disadvantages, so it’s essential to understand what type will work best for a specific situation. Some common types include:

The genoa is among the most commonly used types of jib sails. It is typically larger than other jibs and provides more power in lighter winds. The genoa also offers increased manoeuvrability and agility in tight spaces due to its greater size. One downside to using a genoa jib is that they can be difficult to tack, especially if you’re working with a stiffer sail material like dacron or laminate. 

Working Jib

Working jibs are much smaller than genoas and designed for heavier wind conditions. They offer better performance in strong winds but are less agile than their larger counterparts. Working jibs can be easier to tack than genoa sails due to their smaller size, making them ideal for sailors who want more control over their boat in high winds. However, they provide less power in lighter winds than the larger genoa sails . 

Storm Jibs 

Storm jibs are some of the smallest jib sails explicitly designed for use during stormy weather conditions. They offer excellent manoeuvrability and stability even when facing powerful gusts while still being relatively easy to handle, thanks to their small size. Storm jibs provide less power than other jib sails, so they should only be used when necessary due to inclement weather conditions or strong gusts that would otherwise make sailing difficult or dangerous . 

What is a Jib Sheet?

A jib sheet is a line (rope) attached to the clew of the jib sail , a triangular sail located at the front of a sailboat and extending back to the cockpit, where crew members can adjust it from. The jib sheet serves as the central control for adjusting the angle of the sail to the wind.

A jib sheet is a line that runs from the clew of the jib sail to one or two winches on either side of the boat . The purpose of this line is to hold the sail in place while also allowing you to adjust its trim as needed. Depending on the type of boat, the jib sheet may be attached to both port and starboard winches. This allows you to adjust each side independently to set up your sails for different conditions.

There are two types of jib sheets: a single sheet or a two-part split sheet. Both sheets come together at the tiller and are adjusted by pulling on one or both ends in unison. The goal of adjusting the jib sheet is to trim the sail so that it catches more wind, which will help propel your boat forward faster and more efficiently. They are typically made from low-stretch rope such as Dacron or Vectran.

The term “sheet” comes from an old nautical term for a rope; most sailors are familiar with sheet ropes used for sails, but many don’t realise that it’s also used for other purposes — such as mooring lines or anchor lines! The critical difference between these uses and what makes them all “sheet ropes” is that they are typically used for tension rather than lifting or hauling applications.

How Does It Work?

When setting up your jib sheet, it’s essential to ensure that it has enough slack to allow the sail to move freely with wind shifts and gusts. If there isn’t enough slack in the line, then friction will cause the sail to become less efficient and create drag which can slow down your boat. Too much slack can also create problems because your sail won’t remain properly trimmed when sailing upwind . It takes some practice and experience before you get a feel for how much slack should be in your jib sheet at any given time.

The jib sheet runs through blocks (pulleys) attached to either side of the boat, allowing sailors to adjust the angle of attack by pulling on either side of the line. By pulling on one side while letting out slack on another, sailors can change which direction their sails are pointing relative to the wind and their intended course. This helps them maximise their speed and manoeuvrability in any given situation.

In addition to adjusting for wind direction, sailors use jib sheets to trim their sails for maximum efficiency and power output. By adjusting both sides evenly and simultaneously, sailors can achieve full power without worrying about over-trimming or creating too much heeling pressure on one side of the boat. This gives them greater control over their boat’s speed and performance in different conditions.

Trimming The Jib Sail 

Trim your jib sail by adjusting the pressure on your jib sheet. Pulling on the sheet will create more tension in the sail, which will cause it to become fuller and, therefore, more power efficient. To reduce tension, ease off on the sheet until it is pulling evenly across both sides of the boat. This will allow for maximum performance in light wind conditions. It’s important not to overtighten or under-tighten your jib sheets, as this can also impact your boat’s performance.  

Tension Your Jib Sheet 

In addition to trimming your sails with a jib sheet, you must also ensure they are tensioned correctly. This means ensuring that both ends are equally tight and pulling in opposite directions. This helps prevent wear on both ends of the rope over time and provides proper control over your sails when sailing. If one side is too loose or too tight compared to its counterpart, it can throw off your boat’s handling capabilities and cause instability.

Change Course With The Jib Sheet 

Finally, using a jib sheet allows you to easily change course while sailing without having to tack or gybe manually each time you need to turn around or adjust direction slightly. Pull down on one side while pushing on the other until you reach your desired order or heading. It’s essential to keep going quickly once you’ve got this point; otherwise, you may turn back in unwanted circles! 

Increasing Speed

When it comes to increasing speed, jib sheets play an important role. Adjusting your sails to catch more wind allows you to move faster and move more efficiently than before. The key is knowing when to shorten your sheets or trim them in closer, so they don’t flog (flap) in the wind. Each boat is different depending on its size and shape, so practice makes perfect for getting it right for maximum speed. 

Improving Manoeuvrability

Correctly set jib sheets help you turn quickly and smoothly when sailing close-hauled. This requires skilful use of your tiller/wheel and adept control of your jib sheets by pulling them in or letting them out as necessary while turning. This will give you more control over how tight of a turn you can make while staying within a comfortable range for your vessel’s design. 

How Do I Tie Off My Jib Sheet?

You must tie off your jib sheet correctly because incorrect knots can cause sailing problems. Once you’ve chosen your knot, it’s time to attach it to the jib sheet. Begin by looping one end of the rope through itself and then looping it around the clew of your jib sheet (the clew being at the bottom corner of your sail). Pull both ends tightly and tie them together using whichever knot you choose. Make sure you pull tight before securing it with a stopper knot or a half hitch so the knot won’t come undone while sailing. 

Finally, you can use a snap shackle to attach the jib sheet to its designated position on your boat’s rigging system. This will ensure that everything stays where it should be during rough weather or high winds.

For any sailor looking to take their skills up a notch, there’s no substitute for time on the water. And when it comes to improving performance and manoeuvrability out at sea, honing your jib sheet techniques is key: Trimming the sail, tensionally getting things just right – even changing direction with ease; mastering these elemental art forms will surely set you apart!

Where should you avoid anchoring a boat?

Dragging anchor: what you need to know, related posts, whisker pole sailing rig: techniques and tips, reefing a sail: a comprehensive guide, sail trim: speed, stability, and performance, leave a reply cancel reply.

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West Coast Sailing offers a full selection of marine grade sailing line and rigging including One Design rigging, pre cut line, line kits, and line by the foot for halyards, sheets, control lines, and more. Shop running rigging and standing rigging today from trusted brands including Marlow, Robline, Samson, Kingfisher, New England Ropes, and more.

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Sailboat line & rigging - halyards, sheets, control lines & more.

Line is a critical part of any sailboat, from small dinghy to super yacht and everything in between. West Coast Sailing offers a wide variety of line and marine rope for every sailor from leading line manufacturers. Whether you're looking for a new control line for your Laser vang, jib sheet for your J24, replacement halyard for your cruising boat, or a high strength low stretch line for a high performance application, we've got what you need to get you back on the water. Shop by common application, diameter, material, and more with options available from Robline, Marlow, Alpha Ropes, and New England Ropes. All line sold by the foot with line kits for select boats and small diameter mini spools available.

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 Poor Poor  Poor  Excellent  Excellent Poor  Good 
 Excellent Poor   Fair Excellent Poor Good  Good 
 Good  Good  Good Good  Good Fair  Good 
 Excellent Fair   Fair  Poor Poor Excellent  Fair 
 Good  Good Good  Excellent  Good Fair Excellent 

Line Application Guide - Dinghy


 
        Good Better Best
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Good   Best Best      
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Line Application Guide - Racing


 
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Line Diameter Guide

Recommended Diameter by Application & Boat Length

6mm / 1/4 in  6mm / 1/4 in 8mm / 5/16 in  8mm / 5/16 in  9mm / 3/8 in 11mm / 7/16 in
6mm / 1/4 in  6mm / 1/4 in 8mm / 5/16 in  8mm / 5/16 in  9mm / 3/8 in 11mm / 7/16 in
6mm / 1/4 in  6mm / 1/4 in  8mm / 5/16 in 9mm / 3/8 in  9mm / 3/8 in 11mm / 7/16 in
6mm / 1/4 in 6mm / 1/4 in 8mm / 5/16 in 9mm / 3/8 in 9mm / 3/8 in 11mm / 7/16 in
8mm / 5/16 in 9mm / 3/8 in 9mm / 3/8 in 
9mm / 3/8 in  11mm / 7/16 in 12mm / 1/2 in
6mm / 1/4 in 8mm / 5/16 in 9mm / 3/8 in  9mm / 3/8 in 11mm / 7/16 in 12mm / 1/2 in
6mm / 1/4 in 8mm / 5/16 in 8mm / 5/16 in 8mm / 5/16 in 9mm / 3/8 in 9mm / 3/8 in
5mm / 3/16 in 6mm / 1/4 in 9mm / 3/8 in 9mm / 3/8 in  9mm / 3/8 in 11mm / 7/16 in

 1mm = 3/64 inch  2mm = 5/64 inch  3mm = 1/8 inch 4mm = 5/32 inch  5mm = 3/16 inch  6mm = 1/4 inch
7mm = 9/32 inch   8mm = 5/16 inch  9mm = 3/8 inch  10mm = 25/64 inch  11mm = 7/16 inch 12mm = 1/2 inch 

If you are replacing an existing line, the easiest way to determine what diameter you need is to match what you already have. This can be done with a caliper or by close estimation with a tape measure. For example, if you've previously used a 7mm halyard and it has performed well, another 7mm line is likely a great choice. In most applications, there is some flexibility in the exact diameter that can be used. Most blocks, for example, have an 'ideal' diameter (ie, the line diameter that runs most effectively though the block's sheave) but also have a range so that you can run a slightly thinner or slightly thicker line. If you have a halyard that is getting hung up in your rig, stepping down 1-2mm might help the halyard run more efficiently. If you have a larger boat or rig and want to run a thinner halyard, consider a double braid line that features a Dyneema or Spectra core for strength. A similar approach can be applied to replacing sheets, control lines, and other line on your sailboat.

line-length-measuring-guide-aps-400x400.jpg

Double Braid vs Single Braid

Two terms you will often see in line descriptions are 'double braid' and 'single braid', which refer to the way the line is constructed. At the most basic level, a double braid line has a cover and a core whereas a single braid does not, but there are other important distinctions to consider when making a line selection.

Single Braids  are made up of either 8 or 12 strands that are braided into a circular pattern, half clockwise and half counter clockwise. This produces a line that is supple, absorbs twists, and tends not to kink. There are two types of single braid lines: performance single braids and polyester/blended single braids. Performance single braids are made from fibers with very low stretch and designed to handle extreme loads - think Dyneema, Spectra, or Vectran. Polyester/blended single braids, sometimes called hollow braid, are soft and easy to grip, built for sheets and hand-adjusted control lines. These are less common than performance single braid lines but recommended in a few specific applications.

Double Braids , sometimes called braid on braid, have a braided core within a braided outer jacket or cover. This creates a strong, durable, smooth-running line that is easy to handle. Double braids are used for the vast majority of all running rigging on sailboats including sheets, halyards and control lines for both cruising or racing. There are two types to consider: polyester double braids and high-tech double braids. Polyester double braids, found most commonly on recreational and cruising sailboats, have a polyester cover with polyester core. These are low maintenance, affordable, and long-lasting, while offering relatively low stretch and high working loads. For additional strength and minimal stretch, consider high-tech double braids. These lines typically feature a Dyneema or Spectra core (non-stretch) inside a polyester or polyester/dyneema blend cover for additional durability. They are more expensive but often the go to choice for high performance racing boats.

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Sailboat Main, Genoa and Spinnaker Sheets

Halyards, Sheets and Mainsail Covers - By Boat

A Sheet Line in sailing is the line that controls the direction of the sails. It is connected to the the sail's clews. Find mainsheets, jib sheets, genoa sheets and spinnaker sheets for your type of sailing, wether it is cruising, performance or racing.

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A Full Guide to The Jib Sail And How To Use It

Most cruising boats today have a sail plan consisting of at least three sails: A mainsail, a headsail, and a light-wind sail.

The Jib sail (along with its sister, the Genoa) is one of the most widely used headsails on modern sailboats in combination with a larger mainsail. It is very versatile and easy to use in different configurations throughout most weather conditions. 

In this article, I want to explain the Jib in detail and talk a bit about how it works and how we rig and trim it to get the most performance out of the boat. I’ll also show you each part of the sail and its materials before explaining how it differs from other headsails like the Genoa .

Finally, I’ll finish with some tips on maintaining the sail properly to make sure it last as long as possible.

Well, shall we get started?

What is a Jib sail, and what do we use it for?

The Jib is a triangular sail that does not overlap the mainsail. It is typically between 100% and 115% of the foretriangle size and is commonly seen on modern vessels with fractional rigs.

The foretriangle is the triangular area formed by the mast, deck, and forestay. Learn more terms here .

Like other headsails, the Jib is usually rigged on a furling system attached to the forestay , making it easy to operate. The Jib can also be rigged with a self-tacking system, making upwind sailing easy for you, whether you want to cruise solo or with your friends.

How the Jib works on a sailboat

The Jib provides a sail area forward of the mast, allowing the boat to be steered and balanced effectively.

The curved shape of the sail creates a pressure differential. The outer, more convex side (leeward side) has a lower pressure than the inner, concave side (windward side). This pressure differential generates lift, which translates into forward propulsion, much like how an airplane wing produces lift. 

How to rig a Jib

You can rig the Jib on either a furling system or directly to the forestay. Most modern sailing boats are equipped with a furling system, which is a long sleeve that runs from the top of the mast down to the bow and attaches to a drum on the bottom and a swivel on the top. 

Take a closer look at this step-by-step process on how to rig the Jib to sail onto a furling system:

  • Feed the Jib’s luff into the track on the furler’s sleeve with the top of the sail first and connect the head ring on the sail to the chackle on the swivel.
  • Attach the Jib halyard to the swivel and hoist the sail up. 
  • When the sail is hoisted almost all the way to the top, you attach the sail’s tack to a shackle on the top of the drum. 
  • Put the halyard on a winch and winch it tight.
  • Now you have to manually roll up the sail around the forestay and tie on the two sheets to the clew of the sail.
  • Lead the two sheets on each side of the vessel’s side decks through the sheet cars, turn blocks, and back to the winches.
  • Now that the sail is furled away, we need to tie the furling line onto the drum. You have to figure out how the furling line attaches, as it differs from system to system.
  • Once the furler line is attached to the drum, ensure that it can wrap itself up freely.
  • Pull the sail back out using one of your sheets and monitor that the furling line wraps on nicely.
  • Leed the furling line through the blocks and funnels, through the jammer , and leave it next to the winch.
  • Furl the sail away again using the furling line and ensure that the sheets run freely as you monitor your sail getting wrapped nicely around the forestay.
  • Secure the furler line jammer and tidy up your two sheets. Make sure to secure the sheets around the winches.

So, you see now why most boats use furling systems? It is easy! Many larger sailboats even have electrical furlers, removing the need for the furling line.

How to use, reef, and trim a Jib

To use the Jib, you wrap the furler line around the winch, open the jammer, and pull on either of the sheets, depending on which tack you are sailing on. You should hold on to the furler line to prevent the sail from unfurling itself uncontrollably, especially in strong winds. Trying to catch it if it starts running can injure your hands, so be careful! I’m speaking from experience here; burned hands are “No bueno.”

You can now unfurl the entire sail or a part of it. Once the full sail, or the amount you desire, is out, adjust your car position and tighten the sheet.

How to reef a jib

You do the opposite as the above to reef the sail or furl it back in. 

Ease off the working sheet, but keep it on the winch. At the same time, pull in on the furler line either manually or on the winch. Remember to move the cars forward and re-tighten the sheet if you are reefing away only a part of the Jib. 

How to trim a jib

Adjusting the sheet cars and sheet tension is important to obtain an optimal sail shape in the Jib. Finding this balance is what we call  sail trim . I’m not going too deep into sail trim here, as it is a topic for itself, which will require a separate article,.

But here is a rule of thumb:

You want the leech and foot of the sail to form an even “U” shape on any point of sail . When sailing upwind, you usually move the car aft. When bearing off the wind, you move the car forward.

The goal is to apply even tension on both the foot and the leech. When you reef the sail, you’ll also want to move the car forward to adjust for the reduced sail area. Sailing downwind doesn’t require the same fine-tuning as upwind sailing.

Four tips for sailing upwind:

  • Winch up the jib sheet until the leech stops fluttering and the foot has a nice, even “U” shape. 
  • You must move the sheet car forward if the foot is tight and the leech flutters.
  • Move the sheet cars aft if the leech is tight and the foot flutters .
  • If the wind increases and the boat starts to heel excessively, you can either ease off the sheet or adjust your course more head to wind. 

You should play around and experiment with sail trim, as every boat behaves differently. Trimming sails is an art that takes time to master. Staysails, Jibs, and Genoas are trimmed the same way, but the car positions will be different due to their size and shape differences. Once you learn how to trim a Jib, you’ll be able to trim any headail and even a storm jib or a spinnaker.

Sailing with more than one Jib

Sailing with multiple jib sails can be beneficial on longer downwind passages. Most furling systems have two tracks, allowing you to have two Jibs on the same furler, making this setup easy to reef. You can do the same with Yankees and Genoas, depending on what you have available in your boat.

Some sailboats have two or more forestays, allowing them to have two individually furled Jibs. This is usually called a cutter rig. Most Cutter rigs, however, use a Staysail on the inner forestay and a Yankee sail on the outer, but this versatile rig allows you to experiment with many setups.

Exploring the different parts of the Jib

Head: The head is the top corner of the Jib. It typically has a ring in the top corner that attaches to the Jib halyard or the top swivel for furling systems.

Leech: The leech is the aft part of the rib, located between the clew and head. 

Luff : A Jib’s luff is the front part between the tack and head. Jibs can be equipped with  luff foam  to help maintain their shape when partially reefed on a furler.

Clew : The clew is the aft lower corner of the jib where the sheets are attached.

Tack : The tack is the lower, forward corner of the Jib. The tack is connected to a furler drum on the forestay on most sailboats. Vessels using traditional hank-on headsails connect the tack to a fixed point on the bow.

Foot : The foot of the Jib is the bottom portion of the sail between the clew and the tack.

Telltales: Telltales are small ropes, bands, or flags attached to the front of the Jib’s leech to help us understand how the wind affects the sail and allow us to fine-tune the trim for optimal performance.

Commonly used materials for the Jib

The most common material used for Jib’s today is Dacron woven polyester, followed by CDX laminate due to the relatively affordable price. Continuing up the range, we find woven hybrids like Hydranet, Vectran, Radian, and other brands.

Then, we have advanced laminates with Aramids, carbon, kevlar, and more exotic materials. At the top of the spectrum, we find the latest technology in DFi membrane sails like Elvstrøms EPEX or North Sails 3Di, which comes at a premium price tag.

These days, however, modern technology has given us warp-oriented woven cloth, which is becoming a popular option due to its increased ability to keep shape over time without stretching as much as traditionally cross-cut dacron sails. ProRadial, made by Contender and Dimension Polyant, is a good example. North Sails has an excellent article that goes in-depth on sail materials.

The difference between a Jib and a Genoa

The difference between a Jib and a Genoa is that the Jib is a headsail that does not overlap the mainsail, while the larger Genoa is designed to overlap the mainsail. While the smaller Jib is excellent at pointing upwind and easier to handle, the larger Genoa excels on any points of sail with the wind behind the beam.

Genoas are usually larger than 115% of the  foretriangle , with sizes ranging from 120% to 150%. They are often used on yachts with masthead rigs and smaller mainsails but are also common on fractional rigs.

How to Maintain and Care for Your Jib Sail

Good maintenance and care of your Jib will ensure optimal performance and minimize wear and tear. Check out these tips on how to maintain and protect your Jib:

  • Rinse the Jib with fresh water regularly and leave it up to dry before packing it away. Proper drying will prevent moisture and mildew.
  • Give the sail a service once a year. Check for any damaged seams and repair them if necessary. If there are any chafing marks, reinforce the sail with patches on chafe points and add shafe guards to the equipment it rubs against.
  • Protect the sail from UV rays by keeping it packed away when not in use. A furling Jib can be protected by adding a UV strip to the foot and leech.

I also wrote an article on how to make sails last longer .

Final Words

We have talked a lot about the Jib’s features and how it works in this article. I recommend you to head out and set sail to get some experience and play around with your sails. If you don’t have a boat, chat around in your nearest marina; someone will for sure bring you along for a sail. I know I would.

Remember to experiment with sail trim and practice tacking and maneuvering the vessel with the sail on both the port and starboard sides.

If you still have questions, check out the frequently asked questions section below or drop a comment in the comment field. I’ll be more than happy to answer any of your questions!

PS: Explore more sails in my easy guide to different types of sails here .

FAQ – The Jib Sail Explained

When to use a jib sail.

The Jib is an excellent sail for most conditions, especially when cruising at any angle towards the wind. The Jib has a benefit over the Genoa in strong winds as it is easier to handle, and its smaller size makes it more effective than a reefed Genoa when sailing to windward. 

Can you sail with just the Jib?

It is possible to sail with just the Jib alone, and it works exceptionally well downwind on deep angles where the mainsail usually would have blocked off the wind. 

Can you sail upwind with just the jib?

It is possible to sail upwind with just the Jib, but most sailboat owners prefer to balance their boats by flying their mainsail combined with theiJib when sailing to windward.

What is the difference between a Genoa and a Jib?

The Genoa is different from a Jib sail as it is larger and overlaps the mainsail, whereas the Jib is smaller and does not overlap the mainsail.

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Robin is the founder and owner of Sailing Ellidah and has been living on his sailboat since 2019. He is currently on a journey to sail around the world and is passionate about writing his story and helpful content to inspire others who share his interest in sailing.

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What’s a Sailboat Jib? (A Comprehensive Guide)

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Are you an experienced sailor looking to learn more about your sailboat? Or are you a beginner looking for a comprehensive guide to help you get started? If so, you’ve come to the right place! In this article, we’ll discuss the basics of sailboat jibs and how they help you sail smoothly and efficiently.

We’ll cover what a jib is, the purpose of a jib, the different types of jibs available, how to rig and trim a jib, the benefits of using a jib, and some tips for setting and trimming a jib.

Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced sailor, let’s get started learning more about sailboat jibs!

Table of Contents

Short Answer

A sailboat jib is a triangular sail that is set at the front of a sailboat.

It is usually attached to the forestay, a cable that runs from the bow of the boat to the mast.

The jib helps to balance the mainsail and increases the sailboat’s ability to sail close to the wind.

The jib is often the smallest sail on a sailboat and is often used for light air sailing.

What is a Sailboat Jib?

A sailboat jib is an essential part of any sailing vessel’s rig.

A jib is a triangular sail that is set at the front of the boat, usually between the mast and the bow.

It is the second most important sail on a sailboat and is typically used to help the boat turn and maneuver more efficiently.

The jib is an important part of a sailboat’s rig and is often used in combination with the mainsail to maximize the boat’s performance.

The jib is usually the first sail to be set up.

It is attached to the forestay, a line that runs from the bow of the boat to the mast.

The jib is adjusted to the desired angle and is held in place by a series of blocks that allow it to be adjusted to different angles.

The jib is also connected to the mast by a halyard, which is a rope that is used to raise and lower the sail.

The jib is an important part of sailing because it allows the boat to turn more efficiently.

The jib provides extra lift and power to the boat, which can be used to turn the boat more quickly and to increase the speed of the boat.

The jib also helps to balance the boat, allowing it to sail more smoothly and easily.

The jib also helps to improve the boat’s performance in light winds.

A boat with a jib will be able to sail in much lighter winds than a boat without one.

This is because the jib acts as a sort of “wing” that is able to catch the wind, allowing the boat to move forward even in light winds.

In conclusion, a sailboat jib is an essential part of any sailing vessel’s rig.

It is an important sail that helps to increase the boat’s performance, turning ability, and speed.

The jib also helps to balance the boat and allows it to sail in lighter winds.

A sailboat is not complete without a jib, and understanding how to properly rig and manage a jib is essential for any sailor.

What is the Purpose of a Jib?

sailboat jib sheets

The purpose of a jib is to provide an additional source of power and lift as a sailboat moves through the water.

Unlike the mainsail, which is a large, open-ended sail attached to the mast, the jib is a triangular sail that is set at the front of the boat, usually between the mast and the bow.

This helps to make the boat more maneuverable and provides additional power in lighter winds or upwind sailing.

The jib also provides additional lift, which reduces the amount of drag created by the mainsail.

This can help a sailboat achieve higher speeds or sail closer to the wind.

Additionally, the jib can be used to balance the boat in different conditions, such as when sailing upwind or when beating into a strong wind.

In essence, the jib is an important part of a sailboat’s rig and is often used in combination with the mainsail to maximize the boat’s performance.

Types of Sailboat Jibs

When it comes to sailboat jibs, there are several different types that you can choose from depending on your needs. The most common types of sailboat jibs are: Genoa jibs, cutter jibs, overlapping jibs, and non-overlapping jibs.

Genoa jibs are the largest type of sailboat jib and are often used on larger sailboats.

They are typically used in combination with a mainsail to help maximize the boat’s performance.

Genoa jibs provide the most power and are usually used in light to moderate wind conditions.

Cutter jibs are a type of jib that is designed for smaller sailboats.

They are typically used in combination with a mainsail to help the boat maneuver more efficiently.

Cutter jibs are usually used in moderate to strong winds and offer less power than Genoa jibs.

Overlapping jibs, as the name suggests, overlap with the mainsail when deployed.

These sails are usually used in light-moderate winds and provide more power than cutter jibs.

Non-overlapping jibs, also known as headsails, are the most common type of jib used on sailboats.

These sails are usually used in moderate to strong winds and provide the most power when compared to the other types of jibs.

Finally, there are also asymmetrical spinnakers, which are specialized sails that are designed to help the boat reach higher speeds.

These sails are typically used in combination with a mainsail and jib to help the boat reach maximum speed.

Asymmetrical spinnakers are usually used in moderate to strong winds and provide the most power when compared to the other types of jibs.

No matter what type of sailboat jib you choose, you’re sure to enjoy the increased performance that it provides.

With the right combination of mainsail and jib, you’ll be able to maximize your boat’s performance and have a great day on the water.

How to Rig a Jib

sailboat jib sheets

Rigging a jib is an important step in ensuring a successful sailing experience.

It requires some knowledge of sailing terminology and techniques, but once the basics are understood, it can be done quickly and efficiently.

The first step in rigging a jib is to select the appropriate size for your sailboat.

The size of the jib should be based on the size of your boat and the type of sailing you plan to do.

For example, a larger jib will be more effective when sailing in strong winds, while a smaller jib is better suited for lighter winds.

Once you have determined the size of the jib, you can begin the rigging process.

First, attach the jib halyard, which is the line used to hoist the sail, to the head of the jib.

Next, attach the jib sheets, which are the lines used to control the trim of the jib, to the clew of the jib.

Finally, attach the jib tack, which is the line used to attach the jib to the bow of the boat, to the bow.

Once the jib is rigged, you can begin to adjust the trim of the sail.

To do this, you will need to adjust the tension on the jib sheets.

If the tension is too loose, the jib will not be able to fill with wind properly and you will lose power.

On the other hand, if the tension is too tight, the sail will be over trimmed and you will sacrifice performance.

Finally, you can adjust the angle of the jib in relation to the wind to maximize the power of the sail.

This is known as jibing, and it involves adjusting the angle of the sail in relation to the wind so that the wind is hitting the sail at the optimal angle.

This will maximize the power of the sail and help you turn more efficiently.

Rigging a jib is an important part of sailing, and when done correctly, it can make a huge difference in your sailing performance.

With a little knowledge and practice, you can quickly and easily rig your jib to maximize the power of your sailboat.

How to Trim a Jib

When it comes to sailing, the jib is an important part of the boats rig.

It is a triangular sail set at the front of the boat, usually between the mast and the bow.

The jib helps the boat turn and maneuver more efficiently, and is often used in combination with the mainsail to maximize the boats performance.

But before you can use the jib to its full potential, you need to know how to trim it properly.

Trimming a jib is a delicate process, as the sail needs to be adjusted in order to capture the right amount of wind.

To do this, you will need to adjust the angle of the sail relative to the boat, as well as the tension of the sail itself.

The angle of the sail should be adjusted so that it is parallel to the wind direction.

As the wind direction changes, so should the angle of the sail.

In order to adjust the tension of the sail, you will need to use the jib sheet.

This is a line that connects the jib to the boat and is used to adjust the sails tension.

By releasing or tightening the jib sheet, you can adjust the amount of tension on the sail, allowing it to capture the right amount of wind.

When it comes to trimming the jib, it is important to remember that the sail needs to be adjusted in order to maximize the boats performance.

Adjusting the angle of the sail and the tension of the sail will help you capture the right amount of wind and will ensure that you are getting the most out of your boat.

With a little practice and patience, you can become an expert at trimming a jib.

Benefits of Using a Jib

sailboat jib sheets

A sailboat jib can be an incredibly useful addition to your boats rigging.

It helps the boat turn more efficiently, allowing the boat to be maneuvered with greater precision.

The jib also adds stability in windy conditions, helping to reduce the risk of capsizing.

Additionally, a jib will provide additional power while sailing, allowing you to make quicker progress, particularly in light winds.

Finally, having a jib can help to reduce the stress on your mainsail, extending its life and reducing the need for frequent repairs.

In addition to providing more power, a jib can also be used to adjust the course of the boat.

For example, when sailing close-hauled (on a close reach with the wind coming from directly ahead), the jib can be used to increase the boats speed and turn it more quickly.

This is especially useful when tacking or jibing.

Using a jib also helps to reduce drag on the boat, allowing it to move faster and more efficiently.

This is especially important for racers, who need to maximize their boats performance in order to gain an edge over their competitors.

Finally, using a jib can help to reduce the overall weight of the boat, making it easier to maneuver and store.

This is especially useful for smaller boats, which may not have enough room to store a large mainsail.

Tips for Setting and Trimming a Jib

When it comes to sailing, a well-executed jib can make or break the success of the voyage. Setting and trimming the jib is essential for the boat to reach its full potential on the water. Here are some tips for setting and trimming a jib:

1. Before setting the jib, make sure the boat is properly balanced by adjusting the traveler and outhaul. This will help to ensure the jib is set correctly.

2. When setting the jib, make sure to keep the jib sheet tensioned and the jib luff taut. This will help to ensure the jib is properly aligned with the wind and the boat will move forward efficiently.

3. When trimming the jib, make sure to adjust the sheet tension to keep the jib luff taut. This will help to maintain the jibs alignment with the wind and maximize the boats performance.

4. When sailing in light winds, it can be beneficial to use a smaller jib to reduce drag. This will help to keep the boat moving forward in light conditions.

5. Lastly, it is important to remember to furl the jib in strong winds. This will help to reduce the sail area and keep the boat under control in heavy winds.

These tips should help sailors to get the most out of their jib when sailing.

With the right setup and trim, a jib can be an essential part of a successful sailing voyage.

Final Thoughts

A sailboat jib is an important part of a sailboat’s rig and can help to maximize the boat’s performance.

It is a triangular sail that is typically set between the mast and the bow.

It is important to understand the purpose of a jib, the different types of jibs available, and how to rig and trim a jib.

With knowledge of these basics, sailors will be able to make the most out of their sailboats jib and enjoy a more efficient sailing experience.

So, start sailing with more confidence and get to know your jib today!

James Frami

At the age of 15, he and four other friends from his neighborhood constructed their first boat. He has been sailing for almost 30 years and has a wealth of knowledge that he wants to share with others.

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A Foolproof (and Simple) Way to Set Jib Leads

An excellent, surprisingly simple way to set jib leads is to use jib luff telltales as a guide. This technique applies to all types of headsails-genoas as well as working jibs-and produces good sail shape, good speed, good pointing ability, and good sailor satisfaction. Heres a description based on my text in the new third edition of The Annapolis Book of Seamanship.

First, every jib should have three yarn telltales at equal intervals up and down the luff, on both sides of the sail. Put them one-quarter, one-half, and three-quarters of the way between the tack and the head. They should be 4″-12″ long, depending on the size of the jib and boat and the eyesight of the sail trimmers and steerers, and placed so they wont easily tangle around the headstay. They can be taped to the sail or sewn into the luff with a knot in the yarn on either side so it wont blow away. Some sails have little windows in the luff for viewing the windward and leeward telltales at the same time; here the telltales should be different colors-traditionally green for starboard and red for port.

Most sailors know that jib telltales are extremely helpful when trimming sails and sailing close-hauled by the luff of the jib. Telltales, as their name suggests, tell the tale of the wind stream. They show how the wind is flowing across the sail, and slightly anticipate the bubbling in the jibs luff (which may not happen on modern stiff sailcloth until the sail has lost a lot of wind). Most of the time, when the telltales on both sides of the sail stream aft, with the windward ones lifting occasionally, the sails trimmed just right. The worst thing is to permit the telltales on the leeward side of the sail to droop. This means the sail is stalled, with no airflow from luff to leech. The cause usually is over-trimming, so ease the sheet. If the windward telltales lift all the time, the sail is eased too far so trim it a little.

Telltales also are a key indicator for setting jib leads. Sail on a close-hauled or close-reaching course with the sails trimmed correctly. When the boats up to speed, slowly head up. If all three telltales on the windward side of the luff simultaneously lift up (break) at the same angle, the lead is set correctly fore and aft.

But if the top telltale lifts first, wind is being spilled aloft and the leech is twisted off too far. That means the lead is too far aft and should be moved forward a little. If the bottom telltale lifts first, the leech is too tight because the lead is too far forward. Keep experimenting. Try one lead position at a time until all three windward telltales mimic each other, breaking at the same time. The correct lead position on one side should be the right one on the other side, too, unless (as sometimes happens) the holes in the track are not arranged similarly. (A safety caution: loads on jib sheets can build dramatically, even on smaller boats, so don’t adjust leads until after you tack.)

On a reach, as the sheet is eased the upper leech will twist off and spill wind, so for best performance move the lead forward a little until the telltales break at the same time (this may not be successful with a tall, narrow high-aspect ratio jib, whose upper leech may never look right on a reach).

This system is valuable in heavy weather. Then, instead of harnessing the wind as effectively as possible by making sails more powerful, youll want to spill wind by depowering the sails. If the boat is overpowered and heeling uncomfortably, decrease the heeling force by spilling wind aloft. To do this, move the lead back one or two holes from optimum, leaving the top telltale, or even the top two telltales, lifting early. In a gusty wind you can get through a puff by sailing on the leech-easing sheets until all three windward telltales are lifting, the sails luff is luffing, and the only full part of the jib is aft.

In very light wind, you may find you get better speed by moving the lead a hole forward of optimum, making the sail more full.

By concentrating on the jib telltales along with the speedometer (or GPS VMG readout), while paying attention to your performance relative to nearby boats, youll find that youll sail a little faster.

More important, I think, youll gain a more intimate and satisfying connection with the boat and the environment. Such harmony between sailor and boat cannot be duplicated in any other relationship between a human and an object (which is why we give names to our boats, but not our automobiles or computers). A great boating writer of an earlier generation, Alfred F. Loomis, once described a skilled skipper this way: I noticed how much at union with his boat this sailor was-stretched at ease, one arm thrown carelessly along the tiller, head just showing above the gunwale, and face uplifted so that his eyes commanded the luff of the sail.

May we all be so in tune with our vessels.

-John Rousmaniere

Flare Practice As we reported in the March 1999 issue, pen-type flare launchers are not particularly difficult to use. On the other hand, we don’t think that the operation any of them is so intuitive that instructions arent required. In an emergency situation, particularly if its dark, one shouldnt have to stop, read and comprehend instructions.

Worse would be trying to launch a flare without the proper procedure.

Aerial flares can be frightening things to use for the first time. They can be quite loud and very smoky. At the least you should familiarize yourself with the flares you choose. If possible, and this is apt to take some negotiation with your local US Coast Guard station, arrange to practice-fire an out-dated flare or two.

While its illegal to fire a red aerial flare over the water in a non-emergency situation without express permission from the USCG, its not against the law to shoot off a white one, and Orion meteors, Skyblazers, andparachute flares from Ikaros and Pains Wessex are available in white. Unfortunately, the parachute flares are too expensive for most of us to consider purchasing for practice. And, while the USCG permits the firing of white flares, its not a practice that they encourage.

We spoke to a Coast Guard representative who told us that observers tend to take the attitude that a flare is a flare, regardless of color, and white flares generate just about as much search-and-rescue activity as do red ones. He suggested that sailors practice-fire on land. When we mentioned the possibility of setting fire to a house, the answer was, Well, there is that.

Some Coast Guard Auxiliary Flotillas, were told, arrange for group practice firings of out-dated flares. If your local group can’t help you, the Fourth of July is a useful, and traditional (if not quite legal), time for such training exercises.

Heaven help the poor soul whose boat actually is sinking during the rockets red glare of the Fourth!

-Richard Greenhaus

Most Popular Boat Names We get a kick out of this, honestly. Each year, BOAT/U.S. surveys its owners and arrives at a list of the most popular boat names. It strikes us as a sort of reflection of society as a whole. Are we metaphysical this year? Competitive? Environmentally aware?

In 1999, the surprise winner was Misty, which BOAT/U.S. said came out of nowhere. Second place was Flying Cloud, followed by Serenity, Irish Wake, Wind Dancer, Seas the Day, Odyssey, Gypsea, Luna Sea and Osprey. Gone are perennial favorites Escape, Obsession and Fantasea.

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Help with Jib sheet size/length

  • Thread starter Charisma
  • Start date Jun 1, 2010
  • Hunter Owner Forums
  • Ask A Hunter Owner

Charisma

Hi all, can someone please give me the length and size of the standard Jib sheets for a H26. There used to be a link to the H26 manual on line. But it is not working and my manual is on the boat, 2 hours away. Thanks Chris  

Bill Roosa

Planing factors You did not say what jib size you need it for so assume the smallest and it should work for all the larger ones. As a geeral rule, use the length of the boat for jib sheets. That gives you enough to have the lazy sheet go around the mast and still have the other end in the cockpit. I'd go with 26'  

Thanks Bill, as far as I know the h26, being a B&R comes with only the one size jib. I will order 52 ft. Do you have any recommendations as to the thickness or kind of line to order? Thanks Chris  

Clark

I think 52 feet will be more than enough. New England Sta Set or Samson XLS would be plenty and 3/8 would be good for handling unless your hardware requires a smaller size. PS: There is a handy line calculator on this site.  

Here ya go! Jib Sheets are normally 1.5 x boat length. http://shop.sailboatowners.com/cordage/detail-rigsimple.htm?requiredfields=bid&next=list&bid=1824  

Thanks Guys  

One more quick question should I allow more for a furler as opposed to regular hanked on?  

If you go with that recommended length (way long IYAM unless you have like a 150) you'll have plenty to use on a furler. Note: this is not hi-tech line so having extra is no big deal. Better to be a little long than too short. The only extra amount needed for a furler vs hank-on is a couple of wraps of sheet line when furled.  

DianaOfBurlington

DianaOfBurlington

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sailboat jib sheets

The $tingy Sailor

Diy trailerable sailboat restoration and improvement without throwing your budget overboard.

sailboat jib sheets

How to Rig a Self-Tacking Jib for Free!

You may not have seen or even heard of a self-tacking jib before. They’re usually only found on luxury sailboats. But that’s exactly what one is, a headsail that sheets itself when you tack. You don’t have to cast off the working sheet and haul in the lazy sheet on every tack. In fact, after you set it up, you don’t have to touch the sheet again while sailing. You just push the helm to lee, come about as you normally would, and the jib passes through the fore triangle by itself and stops on the new lee side at the same sheeting angle as it was before the tack. I set one up for free and you can too.

Before I continue, a bit of legal housekeeping. This post contains affiliate links. That means I receive a small commission if you make a purchase using those links. Those commissions help to pay the costs associated with running this site so that it stays free for everyone to enjoy. For a complete explanation of why I’m telling you this and how you can support this blog without paying more, please read my full disclosure .

Self-tacking headsails are becoming more and more popular on high-end cruising yachts as designers strive to remove as much effort from sailing as possible with headsail furlers, in-mast mainsail furling, electric winches, autopilots, and more. Seems it won’t be long before sailboats are fly-by-wire like airplanes and driverless cars. How lazy will we get?

sailboat jib sheets

But there are practical benefits to a self-tacking jib if you:

  • Are single-handed or short-handed on crew.
  • Are short tacking through a narrow passageway.
  • Have a broken jib car or winch that makes normal tacking impossible or dangerous.
  • Or your crew are seriously chilling (lazy) and you’d rather not have to mind the headsail.

A selfie (tacker) you can really use

The basic principle of a self-tacking jib is simple; a means for the clew of the jib to remain sheeted throughout its arc of travel from one side of the sailboat to the other during tacks. Commercial self-tacking systems accomplish this with an arc-shaped track mounted to the foredeck. The jib clew is attached to the track by a single sheet to a car that glides freely on the track like a traveler. The sheet leads to the cockpit where the skipper can adjust the jib shape by trimming the sheet. Such systems can cost many hundreds of dollars to retrofit to a conventional yacht.

The picture below shows the system with a thick red line that I will describe and it cost me nothing new to set up.

SelfTackingHeadsailSheet

Instead of a track fixed to the deck, this system uses a block temporarily fixed to the jib clew. It reuses one of the headsail sheets you already have to form a bridle on the foredeck for the block to ride on. The other headsail sheet is not used.

The only other parts you need are two turning blocks. They can be snatch blocks that you keep on hand for miscellaneous jobs, your spinnaker sheet blocks if they’re portable, or they can be permanent blocks that you install just for this purpose (in that case, your system won’t be free). Heck, even two carabiners will work. If you only have one block or carabiner, reave the sheet directly through the clew grommet in step 2 below instead and attach your block or carabiner to the side deck where it can lead the sheet. The clew will have a little more friction but not enough to keep it from working.

When I want to set up the jib for self-tacking, I just move my existing spinnaker sheet blocks forward from the aft coamings to midship. I won’t be flying the spinnaker at the same time so they won’t be in use anyway. I like these 40mm web attachment style blocks from Nautos . They’re high quality, inexpensive, and work great. Instead of lashing them with webbing, I use 5/32″ dyneema loops or soft shackles.

sailboat jib sheets

For easy, versatile, and economical ways to attach these blocks to almost anything like you see in the pictures here, check out the continuous loops of dyneema that I describe in How to Rig a Cruising Spinnaker in 4 Stingy Stages and  DIY Soft Shackles for Quick and Easy Headsail Changes .

This self-tacking setup works best with a small headsail. I set up my 110% jib this way and it works okay. A larger headsail would not work. A 90% jib, storm sail, or trysail would work even better. That’s because, in order for the jib to set as flat as possible, the foot of the sail should be no longer than the distance from the sail’s tack to the jib sheet bridle.

Do it your self-tacker

To rig a self-tacking jib:

1. Tie one end of the sheet to a point on the deck approximately abeam of the mast and as far outboard as possible. On a C-22, a forward stanchion base is a good place. If you have a toerail, you have lots of choices and can adjust the bridle position for the best sail shape. The picture below (taken from the foredeck looking aft) shows the middle of my single sheet tied to the starboard forward stanchion base. The lazy half of the sheet is leading aft. The working half of the sheet leads out of the picture frame to the right. I keep a soft shackle tied to an alpine butterfly knot in the middle of my headsail sheet where I attach the clews of my headsails. I describe this more in DIY Soft Shackles for Quick and Easy Headsail Changes . That soft shackle is tied to the stanchion base here.

DSCN4673 (Custom)

2. Lead the working end of the sheet to the foredeck and reave it through one of the turning blocks that you have attached to the jib clew. The picture below shows one of my spinnaker sheet blocks tied to the jib clew with a simple girth hitch. The continuous loop makes it easy to tie and remove in seconds.

DSCN4680 (Custom)

3. Continue leading the sheet across the foredeck to the opposite point on the toerail or stanchion base and reave the sheet through the second turning block (or carabiner) that you attach there. The picture below (taken from the foredeck looking aft) shows the block tied to the port forward stanchion base.

DSCN4689 (Custom)

4. Continue leading the sheet aft and through the jib car block as usual. Wrap the sheet a couple of turns around the winch and cleat it off as usual, leaving a couple feet of slack at the jib clew.

That’s all there is to it. Now you just need to trim the sheet out on the water.

Get your self-tacker into shape

To trim the self-tacking sheet:

  • While pointed straight into the wind, raise the jib as you normally would. If you normally use one, the self-tacker works best without a pendant to raise the tack off the deck. You want the sail to open up as much as possible and to do that it needs to be as low as possible.
  • Bear off the wind slowly until the jib fills.
  • Trim the self-tacking sheet to get the best shape possible. Ease the sheet out and the clew will rise, the sail will twist, begin to luff, and spill air. Pull the sheet in and the clew will pull toward the deck, hook the sail toward the mast, and form a full, baggy shape. Experiment with your particular setup until you find the optimal shape that you can get when rigged this way for your wind conditions.

You probably won’t be able to get a nice, flat, foil shape, especially with a working jib but it will still work. I’ve made 4.5 knots with this setup in 10-15 mph winds and that was with a reefed mainsail and dragging a wad of weeds the size of a basketball wrapped around my keel cable. Temporarily suppress the rule in your mind that says you have to trim the headsail flat when sailing upwind. You can pull the rule back out when you revert to a conventional headsail setup.

When it comes time to tack, just announce “helm’s a-lee!” and come about. The clew block will roll across on the bridle that you have tied across the deck and the jib will set on the other side by itself.

When not to be self-centered

There are a few caveats that come with this technique:

  • It works best in medium airs due to the compromised sail shape. Light airs are too weak to develop much forward power with this shape. The sail also isn’t flat enough for safe sailing in heavy airs. But if an unexpected gust comes up, you can blow the jib by casting the sheet off at the winch like you normally would.
  • It doesn’t work well downwind because the sail is held too close to the center of the boat where it falls in the mainsail shadow. So use this setup upwind only or in very short downwind runs.
  • You won’t be able to point very high into the wind, also due to the sail shape. Consequently, you won’t make much upwind progress if that’s your course. It’s best used when you’re casually daysailing or turning laps between two points 180° opposed. It works great for that.
  • You can’t heave-to when set up this way because you can’t backwind the jib. It will just cross the foredeck and you’ll wind up tacking. To heave to, you have to reset your sheets to a conventional setup.

I think this is an interesting technique that’s useful in specific conditions. Racers and other sail trim experts may scoff and call it a dumb trick. Let them, but give it a try sometime and consider it another tool in your bag of sailing skills. You shouldn’t need to buy anything (or very little) to set it up and you’ve got nothing to lose by trying but a little of your time. I bet that if you set it up right, you’ll be pleased with how much more relaxing it can make sailing. Especially if you don’t have a particular destination in mind and you don’t care how fast you get there. Isn’t that some of the best of times to be had when sailing?

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21 thoughts on “ how to rig a self-tacking jib for free ”.

Looks good – looking forward to trying it out. Thanks Mr. $tingy!

I may have missed something, but I don’t see how the self tacking headsail can be adjusted to allow for heave to. To me, that’s one of the most important maneuvers a sailor need to have under his/her belt.

You’re right, Bill. I forgot to mention that as one of the caveats. You can’t backwind the jib when setup this way without first going forward and moving the normal clew knot back to the clew.

Just got round to reading this – what a great idea! Will try this next time I take Tamariu out – thank you $tingy, another winner!

I’ve recently sold off the last of my salt-water navy in favor (at age 81) of returning to lake sailing where the hint of menace that added spice to my coastal adventures for fifty years is blissfully absent. After restoring a derelict Rhodes 19 and launching her last summer, I quickly realized that instead of tacking every hour or two or three as on Penobscot Bay, I was coming about every five or ten minutes. Time for a self-tacking jib, but I am unwilling to spring a few grand for a Hoyt or whatever, I’ve been looking high and low for an easy solution for this matter. Bingo! Today I discovered The $tingy Sailor and this great article. I’ll be putting this great plan into action next week, and every time I call out “hard a-lee” this coming summer long, I’ll thank you that all it means for the crew is “hold onto your drink while I come about”. Ahhh…

Sail on, Eliot!

Nice trick, nice explanation, good warning of caveats. A riggig to try in my sailboat. Thanks!

Maybe a silly question, but I have a roller furler, not a hank on headsail. Is it still possible to use this set up with a furler? I imagine that you would just slack the sheet as you furl the sail. I don’t think the the clew block would be an issue. Any thoughts?

It shouldn’t be a problem. Give it a try!

Well, I rigged up this self tacking jib on my boat and love it!! It’s so much easier having guests aboard without them all constantly moving around to grind the winches and pull lines. I have it set up on a furler which makes the job even easier. The sail luff stops just before the mast, so it’s perfect. I am loving the ease of it! Thank you so much for this great idea!

I will try it on my 1977 Hunter 27 with 85% hank on jib. Thank you.

Thanks – Extremely interesting, and very clear!

From the introducing picture you can already see that this doesn’t work. In the picture the jib maybe uses 30% of its efficiency on a beat to windward. A real self tacking system gets 100 % out of the sail size. Needs a track and a sail that is designed low enough at the clew. A keelboat can be tacked slowly, so you have time to pull the jib sheet tight before the jib fills in the tack. We rarely use the winch handle on a J/80 while racing (international level) in up to 30 knots.

And yet, this system DOES work. I didn’t claim that it would work as well as a “real” self-tacking system and I state the limitations in the article. But for the average recreational sailor (not J/80 racers) that doesn’t need and can’t afford an engineered system, it works well enough to be an option in some situations.

Greetings , thanks for a very interesting article. I’m brand new at sailing just spent a year restoring a 17ft Proctor Pirate , hoping to launch next month so I’m looking all over the net for articles on sailing. I must add this one I am going to try for sure . Looking forward to more sailing info. Thanks for this =) Phill

Just out of curiosity, was the C-22 you were referring to a Catalina 22? We have one also, and I’m hoping a self-tacking jib will make my wife more amenable to cruising along the Southern California coast with our 110 percent jib. Also, was there a link for the soft shackle?

Yep, C-22 is shorthand for Catalina 22. You can read my post about soft shackles at DIY Soft Shackles for Quick and Easy Headsail Changes

Hi, Flying Scot (T) sailor writing. Just came accrost your article about the self Tacking Jib for free! Like’d it very much! Very clear and good directions. Do you think rig will work on my Flying Scot(t) ? Thanks. Flying Scot(t) from Syracuse NY.

Hi, Scott Because the mast of the Flying Scot is so far forward, it would only work with a headsail that doesn’t overlap the mast.

On a furling headsail, can this be rigged at the dock and the headsail rolled up until it’s time to unfurl? Hard for me to visualize how that would look.

Yes, works just the same but instead of having knots at the clew, you have a block.

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Attaching and raising the jib (rigging jib)

  • (while standing in the cockpit) Bring jib to the foredeck, still rolled, with jib sheets wrapped around sail.
  • Put rolled jib onto the center of the foredeck (sheets aft, shackle forward).
  • Unwrap the jibsheets from around the sail (leave them loose)
  • Climb onto the foredeck.
  • Kneel (3-point keel) on the foredeck (facing the bow, with jib tightly beside you,).
  • Attach the tack shackle to the tang plate on the deck at the forestay.
  • Start to attach the clips to the forestay.  Start with the lowest clip, then unroll to the next.
  • Gradually unroll the jib and attach clips, until all clips are attached.
  • Reeve the jib sheets (through moveable fairlead block, and nearby turning block).
  • Tie figure-8 stopper knot at the bitter end of the port and starboard sheets.
  • Lay each sheet loosely in the jib sheet cam cleat.
  • Tension one sheet, so sail lies tight to the deck on one side, the other side being completely loose.
  • Slack the jib halyard (check for figure-8 knot, then uncleat and leave loose).
  • Climb onto the foredeck and reach the jib halyard from the spinnaker ring.
  • Attach the jib halyard to the jib-head eye.
  • Lightly re-tension the halyard and cleat it (enough to keep halyard from fouling).

Notes: all the clips go in the same direction. Attach the jib halyard to the top of the sail. Jib sheets go aft on either side of the mast, inside the shrouds,  through the blocks on the movable cars, the turning blocks and to the jib cleats. Figure eight on each jib sheet.

Main sail goes up first, then the jib. That keeps the boat headed into the wind as you stand away from the mooring. Some sailors leave jib rigged, attached, but not hoisted when on the mooring, or returning to the mooring, and sail with only mainsail.  

When un-rigging, the jib comes down first then the main. 

© 2024 Edgewood Sailing School

ExplorOcean.org

Everything You Need To Know About Sailboat Jibs

If you’re considering entering the world of sailing or are a beginner at having your own boat, then there are several terms you will need to know and understand to get the most out of your new pastime.

One of these terms that you may have heard, especially concerning sailboats, is a jib. But what is a jib?

A jib is a type of sail that is found on sailboats (see also ‘ Two-Mast Sailboat Types ‘) and understanding what they are and what they do is very important. That’s why we’ve taken the time to write this article to tell you everything you need to know about sailboat jibs. 

Let’s get started!

What Is A Sailboat Jib?

A sailboat job is a headsail that is found on sailboats. It’s a triangular sail that is found forward of your mast. It’s typically not as large and has less of a sail area than your mainsail but it is still important to sailing.

Most sailboats that have a single mast will usually have a jib and you’ll find this between the bow and the mast. Jibs are fixed on a stay, which can be a wire, rod (see also ‘ Rod (Unit Of Measurement) Length Compared To Fishing Rod ‘), or rope, and they run forward from the mast to the deck or bowsprit. 

A jib is just one of many different types of headsails. 

Do Sailboats Need A Jib?

You might be asking yourself that as your sailboat has a mainsail, does it even need a jib? This is a common question asked by many sailors, especially on windy days when the mainsail can get a good force behind it.

The answer is that you probably don’t need the jib to sail and your sailboat will be able to sail without it. However, if you don’t hoist the jib, you will reduce the amount of your sail area by up to 50 percent.

We would recommend that you hoist the jib if you feel you need to. If it’s a windy day and you have the wind at your back, then the mainsail may be all you need and you can leave the jib.

On typical days that have average amounts of wind, most sailors will choose to hoist both the mainsail and the jib and will reef them whenever it is deemed necessary.

We consider this to be the best option and as you become more experienced with sailing, you will find deciding when and where to hoist the jib will become an easier decision to make.

Trimming The Jib

Before we look at trimming the jib, let’s take a little time to define what we mean.

What Is Trimming In Sailing?

When we talk about trimming a jib, or any other sail, we are referring to the process by which sails are controlled.

Sails have lines known as “sheets” attached to them, and when we adjust the tension of these lines to move the sail, this is known as trimming. 

How To Trim A Jib

The jib on a sailboat is usually controlled by using two jib sheets that are positioned on either side of the mast. Using two separate sheets makes moving and manipulating the jib easier as you can adjust it from either side.

If there was only one sheet, you would need to constantly reposition the sheet to the appropriate side.

When the wind is to your port side, you will manipulate your jib by adjusting the tension of the starboard side sheet and vice versa. When you adjust the starboard jib sheet, remember to secure it on the winch and free the port side jib sheet to get the best movement.

Is It Possible For A Sailboat To Have Multiple Jib Sails?

Yes, it’s perfectly possible for a sailboat to have more than one jib sail. However, remember that not all headsails are jibs, so some sailboats might have a jib and other types of headsails as well.

Although multiple jibs aren’t unheard of, it’s more likely that an American sailboat will only have one. The most popular cruising sailboat in the States is the single-mast sloop and these typically only have one jib. 

Next time you’re at a harbor or on the waves and have the opportunity to see other sailboats, it’s more likely that the sailboats around you will only have one jib.

What Material Are Jib Sails Made From?

What Material Are Jib Sails Made From?

Historically, jib sails were made of organic materials that had a canvas feel to them, such as cotton.

Traditionally, they’ve been made from materials such as cotton, hemp, and other plant material that have similar properties. A mix of these materials was usually made to get the best mix of strength and durability. 

In modern times, synthetic fibers and fabrics have become more common and have largely replaced the more traditional canvas materials.

This is largely because synthetic fibers have several advantages over their organic counterparts. They’re often lighter and stronger, for example, as well as being more durable and able to resist water.

Let’s look at some of the most popular materials used for jib sails.

This is one of the most common materials used for sails. Most modern jib sails are made from polyester that is woven into a blend with other synthetic materials.

The most common type of polyester used in sails is Dacron and this is because it has many inherent properties that make it perfect for sailing.

Dacron doesn’t stretch, has excellent UV resistance, and is also cheap to manufacture, making it a low-cost option.

Dacron sails have become popular because they will last for several years without the need for much maintenance, they’re reliable, and they’re cost-effective.

This is another synthetic material that is commonly used for sails. It shares many characteristics with polyester as it is also inexpensive and durable.

It’s more lightweight than polyester and is ideal for sailboats such as spinnakers that work best with lighter sails.

Nylon isn’t perfect, however, and it can be too stretchy for some sail applications. It also reacts to and can be damaged by certain chemicals, so some people prefer to avoid nylon sails. 

Kevlar is an extremely strong and heat-resistant synthetic fiber that has a wide application of uses beyond sailing. Its tightly woven structure means that it is commonly used for personal armor, as well as firefighter uniforms and motorcycle safety clothing. 

When comparing the strength-to-weight ratio of Kevlar and steel, Kevlar is five times stronger. It resists stretching and won’t be damaged by even the worst conditions. 

All of this makes Kevlar a very expensive material compared to polyester and nylon. For many sailboats, this cost is prohibitive and Kevlar sails are usually only used on expensive ships such as luxury yachts and racing sailboats.

What Are The Parts Of A Jib?

What Are The Parts Of A Jib?

Now that we know more about what a jib is, what it’s used for, and what it’s made from, let’s look at a jib in closer detail.

Jibs have many different parts and mounting points, so if you’re going to sail with one it’s important that you know what they all are and what their purposes are.

Thankfully, many of these parts and terms are similar to what you’ll find on a mainsail so you may already know most of them. 

This is the horizontal section that you will see running across the base of the sail. You can usually identify it quite easily because it normally has a reinforced strip of material to prevent it from fraying or becoming damaged.

It’s an easy term to remember because the foot is at the bottom, just as it is with many other items and living things.

You will find the clew at the bottom of the jib. It’s at the aft (back) section of the sail’s foot and is also easy to identify. Most clews will have a metal grommet at the clew.

If you imagine a jib sail in your mind, you should have the image of a triangle that has a straight side and bottom that meet at a right angle. The clew is at this 90-degree angle.

If we keep the image of our triangular jib in our minds, the leech is the long straight section that is placed parallel to the mast. It begins at the clew, found at the 90-degree angle at the bottom, and runs to the very top of the sail.

The orientation of the leech on the jib always follows the direction of the mainsail. The leech is always on the aft part of the sail.

As the foot of the jib is at the bottom, it only follows that the head is at the top. The head of a jib sail is the very top of the triangle and is also usually the smallest of the three angles. This is also easy to identify as, like the clew, it will have a grommet.

We learned that the leech is the part of the jib that is parallel to the mast (see also our article on sailboat masts ) and is the aft part of the sail. In contrast, the luff is the forward part of the sail and is also the longest edge.

It’s the slanted edge that runs from the head of the sail down to the forward end.

The clew is at the corner of the jib where the foot and leech meet. The tack is found directly forward of this and is the opposite corner of the foot, where the foot and luff meet. 

The tack, clew, and head, all have provisions so that the jib can be rigged.

Usually, headsails like jibs are hoisted and rigged without being supported by wood, metal, or carbon poles. Known as spars, these poles are fixed and used to support the mainsail but many sailboats don’t use them for jibs.

Instead, sailboat owners decide to use jib booms to support their jib. These can be used to extend bowsprits or improve off-wind sailing. They’re similar to mainsail booms and work in very similar ways.

A jib boom is mounted to the forward part of a bowsprit and pivots from the pedestal. It can be used when projecting the sail but there are other methods for this too, such as using a spinnaker instead.

Not every sailor is a fan of jib booms, however. Some find that they don’t offer many benefits when it comes to windward sailing and choose to avoid them.

They can also take up additional room on the bow and come with the same hazards as a mainsail boom. Whether you choose to use a jib boom or not will be a matter of personal preference.

Final Thoughts

Jibs are a type of headsail that is often seen on sailboats. We hope this guide to jibs has answered all of your questions. Happy sailing!

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Parts Of a Sail Explained (Illustrated Beginners Guide)

Are you curious about sail mechanics and how they engage the wind? In this illustrated guide, we'll explain the various sail components and how they work together to propel a sailboat. From the head to the foot, the tack to the clew, we'll break down each part and give you a solid foundation to build on as you learn to trim sails and navigate the open sea.

A sail, which is a large piece of fabric that is attached to a long pole called the mast, uses the wind to pull a sailboat across the water. It has various parts, such as the head, tack, clew, luff, leech, foot, mainsail, jib, and batten. These components determine the shape and efficiency of the sail.

Let's break down all these terms and descriptions to understand how each component interacts with each other. So, whether you're a seasoned sailor or a beginner, you'll have a better grasp of sail trim and optimal performance on the water.

  • The primary parts of a mainsail include the head, tack, clew, luff, leech, and foot.
  • Some critical elements of the jib include the sheet, genoa, and headstay.
  • Asymmetrical spinnakers are designed for off-wind sailing and have a more rounded shape, while symmetrical spinnakers are used for downwind sailing and have a more traditional, triangular shape.
  • The most common fabrics used for making sails are traditional fabrics like cotton and flax, and modern fabrics such as polyester and nylon, Dacron, Mylar, and laminates.
  • Be sure to learn how to properly trim, reef, clean, flake, and store your sails for durability and optimal performance.

sailboat jib sheets

On this page:

Parts of a sail and their functions, mainsail components, jib components of a sailboat, components of spinnakers, sail controls and settings, sail care and maintenance, sail materials and construction.

In this guide, we'll focus on the three main types of sails : Mainsail, Jib, and Spinnaker.

Mainsail is the primary sail on your boat

The mainsail is the largest sail on a sailboat and is typically attached to the mast and boom. It is found aft (rear) of the mast. It's attached to the boat through a track or sail slide, which allows it to move up and down.

Description
the very top of the sail that is attached to the mast
the bottom edge of the sail that is attached to the boom
the front, leading edge of the sail that runs along the mast
the trailing edge of the sail that runs from the head to the clew
the bottom front corner of the sail
the bottom aft corner of the sail that is attached to the boom
are thin, flat strips of material (such as fiberglass or wood) that are inserted into pockets in the sail to help it maintain its shape and prevent it from flapping in the wind
are sets of small lines or ties that are used to reduce the size of the sail in high winds
are small pieces of ribbon or yarn that are attached to the sail to help the sailor determine the direction and strength of the wind
are numbers that are affixed to the sail to identify the boat in racing situations
include lines or sheets that are used to control the shape and position of the sail, such as the mainsheet, outhaul, and cunningham

Jib is a triangular sail placed in front of the boat

The jib is a smaller sail that is attached to the bow of the boat and works in conjunction with the mainsail to control the direction and speed of the boat. It helps to improve the boat's handling and increase speed, working in tandem with the mainsail.

Description
the top of the sail that is attached to the forestay
the leading edge of the sail that runs along the forestay
the bottom edge of the sail that is attached to the deck or a furling drum
the trailing edge of the sail that runs from the head to the clew
the corner of the sail that is attached to the deck or a furling drum
are small pieces of ribbon or yarn that are attached to the sail to help the sailor determine the direction and strength of the wind
are lines that are used to control the position and trim of the sail
a device that allows the jib to be rolled up and stored when not in use
are clips that are used to attach the jib to the forestay on boats that do not have a furling drum
the bottom forward corner of the jib that is attached to the boat's bow

In some cases, larger jibs called genoas are used to capture more wind, thus increasing the boat's speed.

Spinnaker is designed for sailing downwind

The spinnaker is a large, colorful, and lightweight balloon-shaped sail designed for sailing downwind. It captures the wind from the rear, pushing the boat forward with added speed and stability.

Description
the top of the sail that is attached to a spinnaker halyard
the leading edge of the sail that runs along the spinnaker pole
the bottom edge of the sail that is attached to the spinnaker tack line
the trailing edge of the sail that runs from the head to the clew
the corner of the sail that is attached to the spinnaker sheet
a long, horizontal pole that is attached to the mast and used to hold the spinnaker out from the boat
a line that is attached to the spinnaker pole and used to control its position
a line that is attached to the clew of the spinnaker and used to control its position and trim
a line that is attached to the lower forward corner of the spinnaker and used to control its position
a device that is used to control the spinnaker when it is being raised or lowered

In this section, you'll find a comprehensive explanation of the primary components of a sail and their functions:

Head is the uppermost corner of a sail

The head of the sail refers to the uppermost corner where it connects to the top of the mast. Knowing the location of the head is essential, as it helps you identify the top of the sail and allows you to properly hoist and secure it in place.

Tack is the lower front corner of a sail

The tack is where the lower front corner connects to the base of the mast, or the boom. This important point helps you determine the sail's orientation and affects its overall shape and efficiency. By adjusting the tension at the tack, you can control your sail's performance and handling in various wind conditions.

Clew is the lower rear corner of a saisl

The clew is where the sheets attach to control the sail's angle to the wind. Adjusting the tension on the sheets can change the sail's shape and ultimately influence the boat's speed and direction. Becoming familiar with the clew will help improve your sailing skills and ensure smooth maneuvers on the water.

Luff is the front edge of the sail

The luff is the forward edge of the sail that runs along the mast. It's crucial to maintaining a tight and efficient sail shape. When sailing upwind, pay close attention to the luff, as it can provide valuable information about your sail's trim. A properly trimmed sail will have a smooth luff, allowing the boat to move efficiently against the wind.

Leech is the rear edge of the sail

The leech is opposite the luff. It plays a critical role in controlling the overall shape and efficiency of your sail. Watch the leech carefully while sailing, as excessive tension or looseness can negatively affect your sail's performance. Adjusting your sail's trim or using a device called a "boom vang" can help control the shape and tension of the leech.

Foot is the bottom edge of the sail

The foot is running between the tack and the clew. It helps control the shape and power of the sail by adjusting the tension along the boom. Ensure the foot is properly trimmed, as this can impact your boat's performance and speed. A well-adjusted foot helps your sail maintain its proper shape and operate at optimal efficiency while out on the water.

In this section, we'll look at some critical elements of the jib: the sheet, genoa, and headstay.

sailboat jib sheets

Sheet is the line used to control the position and trim of the sail

The jib sheet is the line used to control the jib's angle in relation to the wind. You adjust the sheet to get the best possible sail trim, which greatly affects your boat's performance. The jib sheet typically runs from the jib's clew (the lower rear corner of the sail) through a block on the boat's deck, and back to the cockpit, where you can easily control it.

When adjusting the jib sheet, you want to find the perfect balance between letting the sail out too far, causing it to luff (flutter), and pulling it in too tightly, which can cause heeling or poor sail shape. Make small adjustments and observe how your boat responds to find the sweet spot.

Genoa is a larger jib used to capture more wind

A genoa is a larger version of a standard jib. It overlaps the mainsail, extending further aft, and provides a greater sail area for improved upwind performance. Genoas are categorized by the percentage of overlap with the mainsail. For example, a 130% genoa means that the sail's area is 30% larger than the area of a jib that would end at the mast.

Genoas are useful in light wind conditions, as their larger surface area helps your boat move faster. However, they can become difficult to manage in strong winds. You might need to reef (reduce the size) or swap to a smaller jib to maintain control.

Headstay provides a support structure for the jib

The headstay is a crucial part of your boat's standing rigging system. It is the cable or rod that connects the top of the mast (the masthead) to the bow of the boat. The headstay helps maintain the mast's stability and provides a support structure for the jib.

The tension in your headstay plays a significant role in the jib's sail shape. Proper headstay tension will create a smooth, even curve, allowing your jib to perform optimally. If the headstay is too tight, the sail may be too flat, reducing its power, whereas a loose headstay can result in a sagging, inefficient sail shape.

A spinnaker is a sail designed specifically for sailing off the wind , on courses between a reach and downwind. They are made of lightweight fabric, often brightly colored, and help maximize your sailing speed and performance.

sailboat jib sheets

Asymmetrical spinnakers are designed for off-wind sailing

Asymmetrical spinnakers are usually found on modern cruising and racing boats. They're designed for a broader range of wind angles and have a more forgiving shape, making them easier for you to handle. Key components of an asymmetrical spinnaker include:

  • Tack : This is the front, lower corner where the sail connects to the boat. A tack line is used to adjust the sail's position relative to the bow.
  • Head : The top corner of the sail, where it connects to the halyard to be hoisted up the mast.
  • Clew : The aft corner of the sail, connected to the sheet, allowing you to control the angle of the sail to catch the wind effectively.

You can find a step-by-step guide on how to rig and hoist an asymmetrical spinnaker here .

Symmetrical spinnakers are used for downwind sailing

Symmetrical spinnakers are more traditional and usually found on racing boats, where downwind performance is critical. These sails are shaped like a large parachute and are split into two identical halves. Key components of a symmetrical spinnaker include:

  • Head : Similar to the asymmetrical spinnaker, the head is the top corner connected to the halyard.
  • Clews : Unlike an asymmetrical spinnaker, a symmetrical spinnaker has two clews. Both are connected to sheets and guys, which help control the sail's shape and movement.
  • Spinnaker Pole : This is a horizontal pole that extends from the mast and is used to project the windward clew outwards and hold the sail open.

Handling a symmetrical spinnaker can be more challenging, as it requires precise teamwork and coordination. If you're new to sailing with this type of sail, don't hesitate to seek guidance from experienced sailors to improve your technique.

In this section, we'll explore sail controls and settings, which are essential for beginners to understand for efficient sailing. We'll discuss trimming, and reefing, as sub-sections.

sailboat jib sheets

Trimming your sails for speed and stability

Trimming is the process of adjusting your sails to optimize them for the current wind conditions and desired direction. Proper sail trim is crucial for maximizing your boat's speed and stability. Here are some basic tips for sail trimming:

  • Pay attention to the telltales, which are small ribbons or yarn attached to the sails. They help you understand the airflow over your sails and indicate whether they're properly trimmed.
  • Use the sheets, which are lines attached to the clew of your sails, to adjust the angle of your sails relative to the wind.
  • In light winds, ease the sails slightly to create a more rounded shape for better lift. In stronger winds, flatten the sails to reduce drag and prevent excessive heeling.

Reefing your sails for control and balance

Reefing is the process of reducing the sail area to help maintain control and balance in stronger wind conditions. It's an essential skill to learn for your safety and the longevity of your sails. Follow these steps to reef your sails:

  • Head into the wind to reduce pressure on the sails.
  • Lower the halyard (the line that raises the sail) until the sail reaches the desired reefing point.
  • Attach the sail's reefing cringle (reinforced eyelet) to the reefing hook or tack line.
  • Tighten the new, lower clew (bottom corner) of the sail to the boom with the reef line.
  • Raise the halyard back up to tension the reduced sail.

Take proper care of your sailboat to ensure that it remains in top condition. In this section, we will discuss the key aspects of sail care and maintenance, focusing on cleaning and storage.

sailboat jib sheets

Steps to clean your sails

Keeping your sail clean is crucial for its longevity and performance. Follow these simple steps to maintain a spotless sail:

  • Rinse with fresh water after each use, paying extra attention to areas affected by saltwater, debris, and bird droppings.
  • Use a soft-bristled brush and a mild detergent to gently scrub away dirt and stains. Avoid harsh chemicals or abrasive materials, as they may damage the fabric.
  • Rinse again thoroughly, ensuring all soap is washed away.
  • Spread your sail out to air-dry, avoiding direct sunlight, which may harm the fabric's UV protection.

Ways to store your sails

Sail storage is equally important for preserving the lifespan of your sail. Here are some tips for proper sail storage:

  • Fold or roll your sail : Avoid stuffing or crumpling your sail; instead, gently fold or roll it to minimize creases and wear on the fabric.
  • Protect from UV rays : UV exposure can significantly reduce the life of your sail. Store it in a cool, shaded area or use a UV-resistant sail cover when not in use.
  • Ventilation : Ensure your sail is stored in a well-ventilated area to prevent mildew and stale odors.
  • Lay flat or hang : If space allows, store your sail laid out flat or hanging vertically to reduce the risk of creasing and fabric damage.

Flaking your sails when not in use

Flaking is the process of neatly folding your sails when they're not in use, either on the boom or deck. This helps protect your sails from damage and prolongs their lifespan. Here's how to flake your sails:

  • Lower the sail slowly, using the halyard while keeping some tension on it.
  • As the sail comes down, gather and fold the sail material in an accordion-like pattern on top of the boom or deck.
  • Secure the flaked sail with sail ties or a sail cover to prevent it from coming undone.

sailboat jib sheets

Traditional fabrics used to make sails

In the early days of sailing, natural materials like cotton and flax were used to make sails. These fabrics were durable, breathable, and held up well in various weather conditions. However, they would eventually wear out and lose their shape due to the constant exposure to UV rays and seawater.

While traditional fabrics like cotton and flax were once commonly used for sailmaking, they have largely been replaced by synthetic materials like polyester and nylon due to their superior strength, durability, and resistance to mildew and rot. However, some sailors and sailmakers still use cotton and other natural fibers for certain applications, such as traditional sailmaking or historical recreations.

Modern fabrics used to make sails

Modern sail materials, such as Dacron, Mylar, and laminates, are more resilient and longer-lasting than traditional fabrics. These materials are lightweight, strong, and resistant to UV rays and water damage.

Dacron : Dacron is a popular material for sails because of its durability, UV resistance, and ease of maintenance. It's a type of polyester fabric that is often used for making cruising sails. Dacron offers excellent shape retention and resistance to stretch, making it ideal for both beginners and experienced sailors.

Laminate materials : Laminate sails are made by bonding multiple layers of materials like Mylar, polyester, and Kevlar. These sails offer better shape and performance compared to their fabric counterparts, making them popular among racers. However, they tend to be more delicate and may not be suitable for long-term cruising.

Mylar films : Mylar films are used in laminate sails for their excellent strength-to-weight ratio and shape retention. These films are often sandwiched between other materials, such as polyester or Kevlar, to enhance the sail's resistance to stretch and load handling. However, Mylar sails can be susceptible to delamination and abrasion, requiring extra care and regular inspection.

Sail stitching for shape and durability

Sail stitching is an essential aspect of sail construction, helping to maintain the sail's shape and durability. Various stitching techniques can be used, such as zigzag, straight, and triple-step sewing. The choice of stitching type depends on the sail's purpose and expected loads. In addition, using UV-resistant thread ensures that the stitching lasts longer under harsh sun exposure.

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What is a Sailboat Jib?

What is a Sailboat Jib? | Life of Sailing

Last Updated by

Daniel Wade

June 15, 2022

A sailboat jib is a triangular headsail located forward of the mast. The jib typically has less sail area than the mainsail.

Typical single-masted sailboats usually have a jib, which is located between the bow and the mast. The jib takes advantage of the forward part of the boat. The jib is not the only kind of headsail, but it is the most common.

Table of contents

Do Sailboats Need a Jib?

Many sailors often wonder if it's even worth hoisting the jib, especially on a windy day. The truth is that you typically don't need the jib to sail, though you're losing up to 50% of your sail area if you don't.

Under typical conditions, most sailors hoist the mainsail and the jib and reef them as necessary. On windy days, you may get on fine with just the mainsail. Whether or not to hoist the jib is entirely up to your judgment.

Trimming the Jib

The trim of the jib is usually controlled using two jib sheets , one on either side of the mast. This makes sense, as it would be hazardous and time-consuming to unwind a single sheet each time you turn, walk along the deck, and wrap it around the other side of the mast.

If you're sailing with the wind to your port side, you'll manipulate the jib using the starboard jib sheet. The opposite also applies when the wind is to your starboard side. Make sure to secure the correct sheet on the winch and free up the opposite sheet.

Can a Sailboat have Multiple Jib Sails?

Yes, sailboats sometimes have multiple jib sails. That said, not all headsails are jibs. Schooners often use two or three headsails. These include the jib, a smaller jib topsail, and sometimes a fore staysail.

The most common kind of American cruising sailboat is the single-mast sloop, which typically employs a single jib. That's why the vast majority of sailboats you see will only have one headsail.

What are Jib Sails Made Of?

Early jib sails were made of organic canvas-like cotton or a mix of organic fibers. Traditional jib sail material usually contains a mix of cotton, hemp, and other fibrous plant material.

Today, synthetic fabrics have largely replaced traditional canvas materials in sailmaking. Synthetic sails are lighter and stronger than their organic counterparts, and they resist water and weather better as well.

Polyester Jib Sails

Modern jib sails are made of a woven blend of polyester and other synthetic material. A material called Dacron is one of the most common sail fabrics due to its low cost, excellent UV resistance, and its tendency not to stretch. Dacron jib sails can be expected to last many years with minimal attention and few failures.

Nylon is another common sail material. Like polyester, nylon is an inexpensive and robust synthetic material that's great for sailmaking. Nylon is extremely lightweight, making it ideal for spinnakers. However, nylon stretches too easily for some applications, and it's prone to damage by some chemicals.

Kevlar Jib Sails

Kevlar is a relatively common sail material. It's considered a 'premium' fabric due to its cost and spectacular qualities. Kevlar has an excellent strength-to-weight ratio and resists stretching better than Nylon or Polyester. Due to its high cost, Kevlar sails are usually only found on racing sailboats and luxury yachts.

Parts of the Jib

The jib on a sailboat has many parts and mounting points, and it's important to understand where they are, what they do, and what they're called. The parts of the jib are similar to the mainsail, and you'll likely recognize them easily.

The foot is the horizontal section that runs across the base of the sail. It's usually a strip of reinforced sail material which keeps it from fraying. Think of the foot as the bottom of the jib.

The clew is the bottom corner of the jib, and it's located on the aft section of the foot. It usually contains a grommet. Since the jib is a triangular sail, the clew is the corner of its base 90-degree angle.

The leech is the long straight section of the jib that runs parallel with the mast. The leech runs from the clew at the foot of the sail to the very top.

Note that the orientation of the leech on the jib follows the direction of the mainsail and not the shape. In both cases, the leech is located on the aft part of the canvas.

The head of the jib is located at the very top and usually forms the smallest angle of this triangular sail. The head also contains a grommet similar to the clew.

Like the mainsail, the luff is located on the forward part of the jib. The luff is the longest section of the sail, stretching from the tip of the sail to the very bottom and forward end.

The tack is located directly forward of the clew on the opposite (forward) end of the foot. The tack, like the clew and the head, has provisions for rigging.

Traditionally, headsails like the jib are entirely unsupported by spars. However, many sailboat owners opt to install a jib boom to extend their bowsprits or improve off- wind sailing . A jib boom operates much like a traditional mainsail boom.

The jib boom mounts to the forward part of the bowsprit and pivots from its pedestal. A jib boom is useful when projecting the sail, but a spinnaker can typically be used to achieve the same result.

Some sailors caution against the use of jib booms, as they offer few benefits for windward sailing. Additionally, they take up space on the bow and pose the same hazards as a mainsail boom.

Jib vs. Genoa: What's the Difference?

The jib is often confused with the genoa: another common kind of headsail. The jib and the genoa look similar and perform the same function, but the genoa is larger.

A working jib typically makes up less than half of the total sail area, though it's sometimes around the 50% mark. The genoa, on the other hand, is usually equal to or larger than the mainsail.

The Genoa-type headsail is wider than the jib at the base. As a result, it doesn't fit between the tip of the bowsprit and the mast. Genoa sails stretch around the mast and extend far past it. This gives the genoa a distinct oversized look.

Reefing the Jib

Reefing is how you reduce the area of the sail. Reefing is necessary for windy conditions or when reducing speed. Jib reefing is a bit more complicated than mainsail reefing, as the jib doesn't always have a boom.

One way to reef the jib is to wind it around a roller furling starting with the luff. You can also reef the jib vertically using its reefing points and a few pieces of rope.

Roller Furlings

Roller furlings are an increasingly popular way to reef and stow headsails. Roller furling systems work for jibs and genoas and streamline the process significantly.

How a Roller Furling Works

A roller furling begins with a drum mounted at the base of the headstay and a swivel at the top, allowing the whole stay to rotate. The jib feeds through a groove in the headstay, which allows you to wind it up around the stay whenever necessary.

Roller furlings allow you to easily reduce sail area from the cockpit. Simply loosen the sheets and wind the furling using a line, and watch the jib shrink right in front of you. Roller furlings eliminate most haphazard trips across the deck to the bow and eliminate the need to hoist and lower the jib.

Electric Roller Furlings

Today there are numerous electrically-controlled roller furlings available. These devices are almost as easy to install as manual roller furlings, and they offer an additional level of convenience.

Electric roller furlings reduce deck clutter and decrease the labor required to sail your boat. However, electric furling systems are costlier than the majority of manual roller furling.

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I've personally had thousands of questions about sailing and sailboats over the years. As I learn and experience sailing, and the community, I share the answers that work and make sense to me, here on Life of Sailing.

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How to Attach Jib Sheets With a Soft Shackle

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Form a Loop in the Single Jib Sheet

Tom Lochhaas

Jib sheets attach to the aft-most corner of the jib (the clew) and run back to the cockpit on both sides of the boat. The jib sheets are used to trim the sail in or ease it out. Consider using a soft shackle to tie your jib sheets to the sail.

On most sailboats, jib sheets are usually attached to the clew in one of two ways:

  • When two individual sheets are used, both are often tied to the clew with a bowline . This knot can easily be untied when the sail is changed, but the two large bowlines form a big, heavy mass that can cause injury if it strikes you while wrestling with a flailing sail in the wind.
  • When a single line is used, a metal shackle is often placed in a loop of the line at its center point, for shackling the lines to the clew. This also means a dangerous hard object that can injure a crew in the head or eye.

But There’s a Better Way

A better solution is to use a soft shackle made with the single jib sheet itself, whipping line, and a short, extra piece of line. This extra piece should be the same diameter as the sheet.

Here's How to Begin

First, form a loop at the center of the single line to be used as jib sheets. It should be about a foot in diameter. Whip the line firmly to maintain the loop.

Form Another Loop in a Short Piece of Line

With a second short piece of line, form another loop that passes through the jib sheet loop. Whip the ends together to maintain the loop.

Insert the Jib Sheet Loop Through the Clew

Insert the jib sheet loop through the sail’s clew.

Pass the Smaller Loop Through the Jib Sheet Loop

Finally, pass the ends of the smaller loop through the end of jib sheet loop, as shown. Then pull the jib sheet to cinch the knot tight.

There are a few advantages of using a soft shackle. It’s lighter and less bulky (and therefore safer) than a metal shackle. It’s also easier to tie and untie with sail changes, and less expensive.

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How to Rig Your Small Sailboat and Prepare to Sail

In this lesson, you will learn how to rig a small sailboat to prepare for sailing. For reference purposes, a Hunter 140 daysailer was used for this learn-to sail tutorial. Before you begin, you can familiarize yourself with the different parts of a sailboat. 

Install (or Check) the Rudder

Typically the rudder of a small sailboat like this one is removed after sailing to prevent wear and tear while the boat remains in the water. You need to reinstall it before sailing, or if it is already in place, check that that it is firmly attached (with optional safety lanyard securing it to the boat).

On most small boats, the top of the leading edge of the rudder has attached pins (called pintles) that are inserted downward into round rings (called gudgeons) attached to the stern. This is rather like the familiar “Insert tab A into slot B.” While the exact configuration may vary among different boat models, it’s usually obvious how the rudder mounts to the stern when you hold the rudder beside the stern.

The rudder may or may not already have a tiller mounted on it. The next page shows how to attach the tiller on this boat.

Attach (or Check) the Tiller

The tiller is a long, thin steering “arm” mounted to the rudder. If the tiller is already attached to the top of the rudder on your boat, check that it is secure.

On this Hunter 140, the tiller arm is inserted in a slot at the top of the rudder, as shown here. A pin is then inserted from above to lock it in position. The pin should be tied to the boat with a lanyard (short light line) to prevent being dropped.

Note that this tiller also includes a tiller extension, which allows the sailor to still control the tiller even when sitting far out to the side or forward.

With the rudder and tiller in place, we’ll now move on to the sails.

Attach the Jib Halyard

Because sunlight and weather age and weaken sailcloth, the sails should always be removed after sailing (or covered or bagged on a larger boat). Before you get started, you have to put them back on (called “bending on” the sails).

The halyards are used to raise both the jib and mainsail. At the sail’s end of a halyard is a shackle that attaches the grommet at the head of the sail to the halyard.

First, spread out the sail and identify each of its corners. The “head” is the top of the sail, where the triangle is the most narrow. Attach the jib halyard shackle to this corner, making sure the shackle is closed and secure.

Then follow the front edge of the sail (called the “luff”) down to the next corner. The luff of the jib of a small sailboat can be identified by the hanks every foot or so that attach this edge to the forestay. The bottom corner of the luff is called the sail’s “tack.” Attach the grommet in the tack to the fitting at the bottom of the forestay -- usually with a shackle or pin. Next, we’ll hank on the sail.

Hank the Jib on the Forestay

Hanking on the jib is a simple process, but it can feel unwieldy if the wind is blowing the sail in your face.

First, find the other end of the jib halyard (on the port, or left, side of the mast as you face the bow of the boat) and keep a good grip on it with one hand. You will be slowly pulling it in to raise the sail as you hank it on.

Beginning with the hank nearest the head of the jib, open it to clip the hank onto the forestay. It will be obvious how to open the hanks, which are usually spring-loaded to close automatically when released.

Then raise the sail a little by pulling on the halyard. Making sure there isn’t any twist in the sail, attach the second hank. Raise the sail a little more and move on to the third hank. Keep working your way down the luff, raising the sail a little at a time to make sure it isn’t twisted and the hanks are all in order.

When all the hanks are attached, lower the jib back down to the deck while you route the jib sheets in the next step.

Run the Jibsheets

The jib sail is positioned while sailing by using the jibsheets. The jib sheets are two lines that come back to the cockpit, one on each side of the boat, from the aft lower corner of the sail (the “clew”).

In most small sailboats, the jib sheets are left tied to the sail’s clew and stay with the sail. On your boat, however, the jibsheets may remain on the boat and need to be tied or shackled to the clew at this stage. Unless there is a shackle on the sheets, use a bowline to tie each to the clew.

Then run each sheet back past the mast to the cockpit. Depending on the specific boat and the size of the jib, the sheets may run inside or outside the shrouds -- the tensile lines that run from the deck to the mast, holding in place. On the Hunter 140 shown here, which uses a relatively small jib, the jibsheets pass from the sail’s clew inside the shrouds to a cam cleat, on each side, as shown here. The starboard (right side as you face the bow)) jibsheet cleat (with the red top) is mounted on the deck just to the starboard of this sailor’s right knee. This cleat secures the jibsheet in the desired position while sailing.

With the jib now rigged, let's move on to the mainsail.

Attach Mainsail to Halyard

Now we’ll attach the mainsail halyard shackle to the head of the mainsail, a process very similar to attaching the jib halyard. First spread the mainsail out to identify its three corners as you did with the jib. The head of the sail, again, is the most narrow angle of the triangle.

On many small sailboats, the main halyard does double duty as a topping lift -- the line that holds up the aft end of the boom when it is not being held up by the sail. As shown here, when the halyard is removed from the boom, the boom drops down into the cockpit.

Here, this sailor is shackling the halyard to the head of the mainsail. Then he can go on to secure the sail’s tack in the next step.

Secure the Mainsail’s Tack

The forward lower corner of the mainsail, like that of the jib, is called the tack. The grommet of the tack is installed at the bow end, usually by a removable pin inserted through the grommet and secured on the boom.

Now the luff (leading edge) of the mainsail is secured at both the head and the tack.

The next step is to secure the clew (aft lower corner) and foot (bottom edge) of the sail to the boom.

Secure the Mainsail Clew to the Outhaul

The clew (aft lower corner) of the mainsail is secured to the aft end of the boom, usually using a line called the outhaul that can be adjusted to tension the foot of the sail.

The sail’s foot (the bottom edge) itself may or may not be secured directly to the boom. On some boats, a rope sewn into the foot (called the boltrope) slides into a groove in the boom. The clew enters the groove first, forward by the mast, and is pulled back in the groove until the whole sail’s foot is held to the boom in this groove.

The boat shown here uses a “loose-footed” mainsail. This means the sail is not inserted into the boom groove. But the clew is held at the end of the boom in the same way by the outhaul. Thus both ends of the sail’s foot are firmly attached to the sail and drawn tight -- making the sail work the same as if the whole foot was also in the groove.

A loose-footed mainsail allows for more sail shaping, but the sail cannot be flattened quite as much.

With the clew secured and outhaul tightened, the mainsail luff can now be secured to the mast and the sail raised to go sailing.

Insert the Mainsail Slugs in the Mast

The mainsail’s luff (forward edge) is attached to the mast, as the jib’s luff is to the forestay – but with a different mechanism.

On the aft side of the mast is a groove for the mainsail. Some sails have a boltrope on the luff that slides upward in this groove, while others have sail “slugs” mounted every foot or so on the luff. The sail slugs, as you can see in this photo just forward of the sailor’s right hand, are small plastic slides inserted into the mast groove where it widens out into a sort of gate.

Again, first inspect the whole sail to make sure it’s not twisted anywhere. Hold the main halyard in one hand during this process – you will be gradually raising the mainsail as you insert the slugs into the mast groove.

Begin with the sail slug at the head. Insert it into the groove, pull the halyard to raise the sail a little, and then insert the next slug.

Before completing this process, be sure you’re ready to go sailing soon after the mainsail is up.

Continue Raising the Mainsail

Continue raising the mainsail with the halyard as you insert one slug after another into the groove.

Note that this sail already has its battens in place. A batten is a long, thin, flexible strip of wood or fiberglass that helps the sail keep its proper shape. They are positioned in pockets sewn into the sail in a generally horizontal direction. In this photo, you can see a batten near the top of the blue section of the mainsail over the sailor’s head.

If the battens were removed from the sail, you would insert them back into their pockets either before beginning to rig the boat or now, as you raise the mainsail in stages.

Cleat the Main Halyard

When the mainsail is all the way up, pull hard on the halyard to tension the luff. Then tie the halyard to the cleat on the mast, using a cleat hitch.

Notice that the mainsail when fully raised holds the boom up.

Now you’re almost ready to go sailing. This is a good time to lower the centerboard down into the water if you haven’t done so already. Note that not all small sailboats have centerboards. Others have keels that are fixed in place. Both serve similar purposes: to prevent the boat from skating sideways in the wind and to stabilize the boat. Larger keels also help lift the boat to windward

Now you should raise the jib. Simply pull down on the jib halyard and cleat it on the other side of the mast.

Start Moving

With both sails raised, you’re ready to start sailing . One of the first steps to getting underway will be to tighten the mainsheet and one jibsheet to adjust the sails so you can get moving forward.

You may also need to turn the boat so that the wind fills the sails from one side. A boat on a mooring, such as shown here, will naturally be blown back such that the bow faces directly into the wind – the one direction you can’t sail! Being stalled facing the wind is called being "in irons."

To turn the boat out of irons, simply push the boom out to one side. This pushes the back of the mainsail into the wind (called "backing" the sail) -- and the wind pushing against the sail will start the boat rotating. Just be sure you’re ready to take off!

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Best line for jib sheets

sailboat jib sheets

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I have the need to change out my jib sheets on my Hunter 450 (9/16" line). I would appreciate any input on rope selection. I am really not current on what is out there these days. I will also be changing out my furling line as well as others over the next year. Is there a lot of difference in the manufacturers' products? Also, ideas for shopping the material would be great. Thanks all !  

sailboat jib sheets

I recently changed mine (old hunter 40) and downsized to 3/8" and went with staset x - works well for me and still grips nicely in my oversized genoa winches. The lighter weight helps with light air days.  

sailboat jib sheets

Buy used line from eBay - there are plenty of great deals there right now as boats are being parted out.  

sailboat jib sheets

9/16" is heavy and will weigh down your sail's clew in light winds. However that handles nicely on the winch. I'd probably size down a bit. More money on line generally buys less stretch and sometimes lighter weight. Less stretch isn't a major issue for jib sheets, they see the highest loads when close hauled and then the working length of the line is so short that stretch isn't much of an issue. From that point of view using New England Ropes Sta-Set or Samson XLS is fine. I don't think there is much benefit to moving up a level to Sta-Set X or XLS Extra, but it also isn't that much more money. Furling lines also don't need to be high tech. When you start changing out halyards, main sheets and reefing lines you'll find benefit in the high tech low stretch lines. I made some high tech jib sheets for my Pearson which are Samson Amsteel Blue spliced into Sta-Set X. The transition between the two happens right where the sheet ends up on the winch when close hauled. This is complete overkill on a cruising boat, but does make for a lighter sheet that doesn't weigh down the sail clew too much. This same splice works very nicely for halyards and reefing lines.  

I recently replaced all of the running rigging on my Gulf 29. It had 3/8 inch white jib sheets and swapped them out with bright red 1/2 inch sheets. I am very happy. The fatter ropes are easier on my hands and grip better on the winch. They are the only red lines on the boat, which cuts down on confusion especially when I have have inexperienced sailors on board. My philosophy is to buy the most affordable marine grade line that does the job. If I was a racer, rich, or both I might spring for the fancy stuff. I am skeptical about lighter jibs sheets having better light air performance because the material that the jib is made out of is so heavy. This is something you normally only worry about with spinnakers. I am skeptical about about buying used lines online because they are not that much cheaper and in the world of sailing, new running rigging is relatively cheap.  

I'd highly recommend New England Rope VPC. It's strong, easy to handle, grips winches well, wears well, and has good stretch and UV resistance. lts performance is one step above dacron double braid and it's much easier to handle than Sta-set X. The max diameter is 1/2" but the tensile strength is 10,200#  

sailboat jib sheets

I'd go with thicker line for jib sheets. 1/2" or more. The thicker line is much easier on the hands if you're constantly trimming in a race. If you have a self tailing winch, you need to make sure it fits comfortably in the slot. High tech lines are a good option for halyards as they stretch less. Maybe not quite as important for jib sheets. I use double braid poly for jib sheets and spectra for halyards.  

sailboat jib sheets

I completely agree with Chism33. You can make a case for low stretch line for halyards, but it's irrelevant for jib sheets. In actuality I doubt low stretch halyards are worth the cost either unless you do race, and then what's the real difference anyway? Your sheets diameter should be as large as your blocks and winches can handle as it's much easier on your hands. My main sheet is 5/8" double braid nylon and note that catamarans have higher loads on their mainsail than monohulls as we do not and can not heel.  

Maybe I am old fashioned, but I like Regatta Braid for sheets since it is so easy on the hands.  

I really appreciate all of your comments! Thanks for taking the time. Also, there were a lot of good points made which gave me much to consider in selecting. I'm cruising these days and so racing issues were left largely out other than finding them interesting that some of you guys are splicing two different line types on jib sheets...wow! I really don't miss racing. It reminds me of the days when the skipper I was crewing for made us empty our pockets (wallets and all) before getting aboard for a race! I decided to stay with the largest line which is rated for my self-tailing winches - 9/16 - mainly because I am interested in comfort particularly in heavier winds in which I tend to enjoying sailing. I tried to research each of the brands mentioned as well as a few others I ran across. I am convinced there are a lot of good options out there. FWIW - I settled on Cajun Rope's XLE which seems to have highly similar specs to Samson's XLS and New England's Sta Set. And, for the purposes of a cruiser, I think it should work well. Plus, the Cajun is priced better which is nice. I actually decided to change out the jib sheets, traveler lines, and roller furling line, all with the same XLE line type. I did use starboard and port color flecks and a bright blue furling line. Thanks again for helping out!  

sailboat jib sheets

keepsailin said: ...wow! I really don't miss racing. It reminds me of the days when the skipper I was crewing for made us empty our pockets (wallets and all) before getting aboard for a race! Click to expand...

XLE is fine for jib sheets, but it isn't as good as XLS or Sta-Set. In particular it has a lot more stretch than XLS for about the same price (Fisheries Supply sells XLS for about the same price or less than what Cajun sells XLE for). When it comes time for halyards I would get XLS at a minimum. If you primarily sail in heavy winds then going with larger lines makes sense. Here in Seattle we have a lot of light air and so the weight of the sheets does matter.  

Here are the actual specs for Cajun XLE: http://www.novabraid.com/rope/xle_performer.html They are not publishing the stretch properties on the Cajun website because they are truly awful. 5% stretch at 20% of breaking, compared to 3% for other double braids. On your 55' mast (~70' working length) that is about 3.5' of stretch vs 2' of stretch for XLS or 1' for XLS Extra.  

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sailboat jib sheets

Posted 2024-06-21 21:49

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O'Day Daysailer 2 17' sailboat - $800 (Pueblo)

O'Day Daysailer 2 17' sailboat 1

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O'Day Daysailer 2 17' sailboat - boats - by owner - marine sale -...

The Daysailer 2 is a fun sailboat for 2 or 3 people (can also be sailed single-handed) that has a mainsail and a jib. It has a centerboard or swing keel. Has fiberglass double hull and small "cuddy"...

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COMMENTS

  1. Ask Sail: Choosing the Best Jib Sheets

    This includes your sheets, the halyard and also the fibers that make up your sail. As a result, as soon as there is stretch there is some distortion to the shape of the sail no matter what your sheet material. Ultimately, the idea is to complement the fabric and engineering of the sail by choosing the appropriate line for the halyard and sheets.

  2. Not All Line is Equal: How to Choose the Right Line for the Job

    Break a sheet or lose a halyard while sailing, and you'll likely find yourself breaking out your onboard sail repair kit or ending the race and heading to the loft for repairs. Our service team details what you need to know about the line options available, how they're made, and how to choose the right one. ... Jib/Genoa Sheet. PRIORITIES ...

  3. Sailboat Jib Genoa Sheet Lines

    Buy online sailboat Jib Genoa Sheet Lines from the best brands. WE SHIP WORLDWIDE: More Info. Toggle menu. FREE SHIPPING* US Continental (min order $98) International (min order $750) * Does not apply to oversized items. Compare ; Gift Certificates; My Account; Search. 877-240-8352. Search. Our Brands . All Our Brands;

  4. Sailboat Mainsheets, Jib Sheets, & Spinnaker Sheets

    Line for Sheets. Sheets control trim of sailboat sails such as the mainsail, jib, and spinnaker. Browse top line recommendations for sailboat mainsheets, jib sheets, spinnaker sheets, and more. Check out performance favorites such as Dinghy Sheet XL, Rooster Polilite, Coppa 500, and Samson Ultra-Lite and reliable options such as Marlow Double ...

  5. The Essential Guide To A Jib Sheet

    The jib sheet system includes four key components: the clew, track, blocks, and sheets. Different types of jib sails, such as the genoa, working jib, and storm jib, have unique pros and cons depending on the weather conditions and sailing needs.; The jib sheet serves as the central control for adjusting the angle of the sail to the wind and runs through blocks attached to either side of the boat.

  6. Sailboat Line & Rigging

    Genoa Sheet - 1.5 x LOA Jib Sheet - LOA Spinnaker Sheet - 2 x LOA (recommend adding 5-10') Asymmetrical Sheet (Outside) - 3 x LOA Asymmetrical Sheet (Inside Only - 2.5 x LOA Main Halyard - 2P + Distance to the Clutch Jib Halyard - 2I + Distance to the Clutch Spinnaker Halyard - 2I + 20' Tack Line - J x 5

  7. Sailboat Main, Genoa and Spinnaker Sheets

    A Sheet Line in sailing is the line that controls the direction of the sails. It is connected to the the sail's clews. Find mainsheets, jib sheets, genoa sheets and spinnaker sheets for your type of sailing, wether it is cruising, performance or racing. MAURIPRO Sailing, your direct access to Sailboat Main, Genoa and Spinnaker Sheets and all ...

  8. The Jib Sail Explained: A Complete Guide

    The Jib is a triangular sail that does not overlap the mainsail. It is typically between 100% and 115% of the foretriangle size and is commonly seen on modern vessels with fractional rigs. The foretriangle is the triangular area formed by the mast, deck, and forestay. Learn more terms here.

  9. Sheets for mainsail, jib or spinnaker

    Every sailor has different demands for a main sheet, jib sheet and spinnaker sheets. The most important factors are low stretch, grip and smoothness. PremiumRopes has a wide range of sheets with grip fibers for every type of boat. If you are a racer or performance sailor choose a sheet with Dyneema® fibers or Stirotex.

  10. What's a Sailboat Jib? (A Comprehensive Guide)

    A sailboat jib is a triangular sail that is set at the front of a sailboat. It is usually attached to the forestay, a cable that runs from the bow of the boat to the mast. ... By releasing or tightening the jib sheet, you can adjust the amount of tension on the sail, allowing it to capture the right amount of wind.

  11. Sheet (sailing)

    A mainsheet is a line connected to the boom which allows a sailor to control the speed of a boat. The jib sheet attaches to the clew of the jib, and controls it. The jib has a sheet on each side, only one of which (the leeward one) will be in use at one time. The spinnaker sheet attaches to the clew (s) of the spinnaker, if carried.

  12. A Foolproof (and Simple) Way to Set Jib Leads

    This means the sail is stalled, with no airflow from luff to leech. The cause usually is over-trimming, so ease the sheet. If the windward telltales lift all the time, the sail is eased too far so trim it a little. Telltales also are a key indicator for setting jib leads. Sail on a close-hauled or close-reaching course with the sails trimmed ...

  13. Help with Jib sheet size/length

    To calculate jib-sheet length, add it up: Clew to the winch; Enough for the tail (past the winch) and cleat; Foot of sail; Twice that-- because the other sheet has to make it to the winch before you come about. Therefore on my 1974 H25, for the 110 jib: 10. +4. +11.

  14. How to Rig a Self-Tacking Jib for Free!

    Bear off the wind slowly until the jib fills. Trim the self-tacking sheet to get the best shape possible. Ease the sheet out and the clew will rise, the sail will twist, begin to luff, and spill air. Pull the sheet in and the clew will pull toward the deck, hook the sail toward the mast, and form a full, baggy shape.

  15. Attaching and raising the jib (rigging jib)

    Attach the jib halyard to the top of the sail. Jib sheets go aft on either side of the mast, inside the shrouds, through the blocks on the movable cars, the turning blocks and to the jib cleats. Figure eight on each jib sheet. Main sail goes up first, then the jib. That keeps the boat headed into the wind as you stand away from the mooring ...

  16. Everything You Need To Know About Sailboat Jibs

    The jib on a sailboat is usually controlled by using two jib sheets that are positioned on either side of the mast. Using two separate sheets makes moving and manipulating the jib easier as you can adjust it from either side. If there was only one sheet, you would need to constantly reposition the sheet to the appropriate side.

  17. Parts Of a Sail Explained (Illustrated Beginners Guide)

    The jib sheet is the line used to control the jib's angle in relation to the wind. You adjust the sheet to get the best possible sail trim, which greatly affects your boat's performance. The jib sheet typically runs from the jib's clew (the lower rear corner of the sail) through a block on the boat's deck, and back to the cockpit, where you can ...

  18. What is a Sailboat Jib?

    A sailboat jib is a triangular headsail located forward of the mast. The jib typically has less sail area than the mainsail. Typical single-masted sailboats usually have a jib, which is located between the bow and the mast. The jib takes advantage of the forward part of the boat. The jib is not the only kind of headsail, but it is the most common.

  19. How to Attach Jib Sheets With a Soft Shackle

    Form a Loop in the Single Jib Sheet. Tom Lochhaas. Jib sheets attach to the aft-most corner of the jib (the clew) and run back to the cockpit on both sides of the boat. The jib sheets are used to trim the sail in or ease it out. Consider using a soft shackle to tie your jib sheets to the sail. On most sailboats, jib sheets are usually attached ...

  20. Learn How to Rig and Sail a Small Sailboat

    The jib sheets are two lines that come back to the cockpit, one on each side of the boat, from the aft lower corner of the sail (the "clew"). In most small sailboats, the jib sheets are left tied to the sail's clew and stay with the sail. On your boat, however, the jibsheets may remain on the boat and need to be tied or shackled to the ...

  21. Best knot for jib sheets

    72 posts · Joined 2008. #15 · May 12, 2009. I know conventional wisdom uses the bowline, an excellent knot, for jib sheets, and I do if I need to be able to untie the sheet and re-tie to the next jib. Otherwise, I prefer the buntline hitch. This knot is a bit less prone to snagging on the way past obstacles such as the stays, but has the ...

  22. Best line for jib sheets

    Less stretch isn't a major issue for jib sheets, they see the highest loads when close hauled and then the working length of the line is so short that stretch isn't much of an issue. From that point of view using New England Ropes Sta-Set or Samson XLS is fine. I don't think there is much benefit to moving up a level to Sta-Set X or XLS Extra ...

  23. O'Day Daysailer 2 17' sailboat

    The Daysailer 2 is a fun sailboat for 2 or 3 people (can also be sailed single-handed) that has a mainsail and a jib. It has a centerboard or swing keel. ... WaveFront tiller clutch, whisker pole, new mainsheet blocks and jib sheet, and some other bits. No outboard motor. The mast is a stepped mast, and the tabernacle got a little mangled but I ...