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What Sail Dimensions are Required to Calculate Sail Areas?

The required sail dimensions for calculating the area of any triangular sails are usually its height and the length of its foot. But that only works for mainsails and mizzens with no roach, and jibs with a 90 degree angle at the clew - and what about high-cut headsails, spinakers and cruising chutes? Read on...

Foresail and mainsail dimensions are universally referenced with the letters 'J', 'I', 'E' and 'P' approximating to the length of the foredeck, height of the mast, length of the boom and the height of the main sail - but more accurately defined further down this page.

Yacht designers need these sail dimensions to calculate thought provoking stuff such as the sail-area/displacement ratios of their creations, and sailmakers need them before they put scissors to sailcloth.

If our sailboat's sails were perfectly triangular then, as every schoolboy knows, their area would be 'half the height, times the base' - but with the possible exception of a mainsail with a straight luff, generally they're not. Here's how it works...

Main and Mizzen Sail Dimensions

These are almost right-angled triangles except for the curvature of the leach (the 'roach') which increases the sail area. 

sail dimensions labelled on sailboat

It's usually calculated as:~

Area = (luff x foot)/1.8, or

Area = ( P x E )/1.8, where:~

  • 'P' is the distance along the aft face of the mast from the top of the boom to the highest point that the mainsail can be hoisted, and
  • 'E' is the distance along the boom from the aft face of the mast to the outermost point on the boom to which the main can be pulled.

For the mizzen sails on ketches and yawls , 'P' and 'E' relate to the mizzen mast and boom.

For more heavily roached sails, the increased area can be accounted for by reducing the denominator in the formula to 1.6.

Clearly calculating sail areas isn't going to be an exact science...

Jibs, Genoas and Staysail Dimensions

Parts of a sail named

For a working jib that fills the fore triangle - but no more - and with a foot that's parallel to the deck, then you've got a 'proper' right-angled triangular sail, whose area is:~

Area = (luff x foot)/2, or

Area = ( I x J )/2, where:~

  • 'I' is the distance down the front of mast from the genoa halyard to the level of the main deck, and
  • 'J' is the distance along the deck from the headstay pin to the front of the mast.

Genoas, by definition, have a clew which extends past the mast and are described by the amount by which they do so. For instance a 135% genoa has a foot 35% longer than 'J' and a 155% genoa 55% longer. Areas are calculated as follows:~

Area (135% genoa) = (1.44 x I x J )/2, and

Area (155% genoa) = (1.65 x I x J )/2

High-cut Headsails

The 'luff perpendicular' is needed for measuring the area of a high-cut jib

But these formulae don't work for a high-cut jib with a raised clew - unless you imagine the sail turned on its side such that the luff is the base and the luff perpendicular is the height.

It's still a simple calculation though, once you know the length of the luff perpendicular ( LP ), the sail area is:~

Area = (luff x luff perpendicular)/2, or

Area = ( L x LP )/2, where:~

  • 'L' is the distance along the forestay from the headstay pin to the front of the mast, and
  • 'LP' is the shortest distance between the clew and the luff of the genoa.

Spinnaker Sail Dimensions

Much like calculating foresail areas, but with different multipliers for conventional spinnakers and asymmetric spinnakers...

Conventional Spinnakers

Area = (0.9 x luff x foot), or

Area = (0.9 x I x J ), where:~

  • 'I' is the distance from the highest spinnaker halyard to the deck, and
  • 'J' is the length of the spinnaker pole.

Asymmetric Spinnakers

Area = (0.8 x luff x foot), or

Area = (0.8 x  I  x  J ), where:~

  • 'I'  is the distance from the highest spinnaker halyard to the deck, and
  • 'J'  is the distance from the front face of the mast to the attachment block for the tackline.

More about Sails...

Although woven sails are the popular choice of most cruising sailors, laminate sails and molded sails are the way to go for top performance. But how long can you expect them to last?

Are Molded and Laminate Sails One Step Too Far for Cruising Sailors?

Although woven sails are the popular choice of most cruising sailors, laminate sails and molded sails are the way to go for top performance. But how long can you expect them to last?

It's good insurance to have storm sails available in your sail locker if you are going offshore, and these are recommended fabric weights and dimensions for the storm jib and trysail

Is Carrying Storm Sails on Your Cruising Boat Really Necessary?

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When the wind moves aft and the lightweight genoa collapses, you need one of the spinnaker sails. But which one; conventional or asymmetric? Star cut, radial head or tri-radial?

Using Spinnaker Sails for Cruising without the Drama!

When the wind moves aft and the lightweight genoa collapses, you need one of the spinnaker sails. But which one; conventional or asymmetric? Star cut, radial head or tri-radial?

Learn how to hoist the mainsail, jibe it, tack it, trim it, reef it and control it with the main halyard, the outhaul, the mainsheet and the kicker.

The Mainsail on a Sailboat Is a Powerful Beast and Must Be Controlled

Learn how to hoist the mainsail, jibe it, tack it, trim it, reef it and control it with the main halyard, the outhaul, the mainsheet and the kicker.

Whilst Dacron sail cloth is the least expensive woven fabric for standard cruising sails, do the superior qualities of the more hi-tech fabrics represent better value for money?

Is Dacron Sail Cloth Good Enough for Your Standard Cruising Sails?

Whilst Dacron sail cloth is the least expensive woven fabric for standard cruising sails, do the superior qualities of the more hi-tech fabrics represent better value for money?

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A Complete Guide to The Genoa Sail And How To Use It

The Genoa is massively used in sailing, usually teamed up by a mainsail. It’s a triangular sail attached to the forestay that’s easy to work with in any conditions, from light to moderate winds and beyond. I love my Genoa because it is so easy to handle, and when sailing on any point of sail with the wind behind the mast, it does a great job even without the mainsail set.

Today, I’ll explain what the Genoa sail actually is (many people actually mistake it for a Jib, but more on that later) what we use it for and how it actually works. I’ll also talk a bit about what materials they’re usually made of and teach you about the different parts.

To wrap things up, I’ll share some handy tips on how to keep your Genoa in tip-top shape to make it last as long as possible. For trust me, investing in a new one is an expensive affair that I can testify to!

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

Let me begin with the basics, just in case you’re unfamiliar with sails. A Genoa is a headsail extending past and overlapping the mast. Genoas are typically larger than 115% of the foretriangle, with sizes varying between 120% and 150%.

This sail is often combined with a smaller main sail on masthead-rigged bluewater vessels but is also common on modern fractionally rigged vessels.

The Genoa is durable, versatile, and usable on all points of sail. There are better options for those who mainly sail upwind, like the Jib, but it is hard to beat for the extra canvas it provides when you turn around and sail downwind. As a result, the Genoa is standard on most modern sailing vessels and is truly a multi-purpose sail.

As I said in the beginning, it’s worth mentioning a common misunderstanding where the terms Genoa and Jib get mixed up. Many people call any headsail a Jib, which is a misinterpretation. I personally prefer to use the correct terminology to avoid any confusion, especially if you carry both on board. You can learn more about the Jib sail in this article.

Tip : If you want to use a simpler word for Genoa, “Genny” works well!

How the Genoa works on a sailboat

The Genoa provides a sail area forward of the mast , aiding in steering and balancing the boat effectively. It is usually flown together with the mainsail to catch the wind’s energy and push the boat forward, but it also works great on its own, especially when sailing any downwind angles.

The sail is curved, creating a pressure difference when exposed to the wind while sailing at closer angles than 90 degrees. The outer, rounded side (leeward side) has lower pressure than the inner, hollowed side (windward side).

This pressure difference creates lift, propelling the boat forward like how an airplane wing produces lift. On any lower angle than 90 degrees, the sail acts like a parachute to move the boat forward.

In simpler terms, I like to look at the Genoa as one of the boat’s main engines. You usually have a diesel engine onboard as well, but since it is a sailboat, you’d prefer to sail it, right?

How to rig a Genoa

The Genoa is rigged on either a furling system or directly to the forestay. Most modern sailing boats have a furling system, 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. The process for rigging a Genoa and a Jib is the same.

Let us take a look at the step-by-step process on how to rig the Genoa ready to sail onto a furling system:

  • Feed the Genoa’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 Genoa 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 Genoa 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.

It is easy to understand why most sailing vessels use furling systems. I wouldn’t want to be without one. They make sail handling such a breeze! You can learn more about the sailboats standing rigging here.

How to use, reef, and trim a Genoa

To use the Genoa, 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 want to keep a hold on to the furler line to prevent the sail from unfurling itself uncontrollably, especially in strong winds.

You can now unfurl the entire sail or just a part of it. Adjust your car position and tighten the sheet once the whole sail, or the desired amount, is out.

How to furl and reef a Genoa

To furl or reef the Genoa, you do the opposite of unfurling it. 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 sail. Reef earlier rather than later if the wind starts to pick up. More force in the sail only makes the task harder, and you risk overpowering your boat. Talk to any sailor and the first advice you’ll get is “reef often and reef early”.

When you’ve tried dipping your toe-rail underwater and had everything down below deck shuffled around in a mess, you’ll understand what I mean! (Yes, been there, done that…)

How to trim a Genoa

Adjusting the sheet cars and sheet tension is vital to obtaining an optimal sail shape in the Genoa. Finding this balance is what we call  sail trim . We’re not going to dig too deep into sail trim in this 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, making trimming easier. But keep an eye on the wind and reef before things get out of control!

Here are a few tips when sailing upwind:

  • Winch up the Genoa sheet until the leech stops fluttering and the foot has a sweet, even “U” shape. 
  • You want to 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 similarly, but the car positions will differ due to their size and shape differences. Once you learn how to trim a Genoa, you can trim any headail.

Sailing with more than one Genoa

Navigating with multiple Genoa’s is great on extended downwind journeys. Most furling systems come with dual tracks, making it possible to fly two Genoa’s on a single furler, which again makes reefing a simple task. This arrangement can also be replicated or combined with Yankees and Jibs if you have several headsails onboard.

Certain boats are equipped with two or more forestays, allowing them to have two separately furled headsails. This configuration is often referred to as a cutter rig. Although most cutter rigs utilize a Staysail on the inner forestay and a Yankee sail on the outer, this flexible rig provides the liberty to explore a variety of setups.

Exploring the different parts of the Genoa

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

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

Luff : A Genoa’s luff is the front part between the tack and head. Genoa’s are often 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 Genoa where the sheets are attached.

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

Foot : The foot of the Genoa 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 Genoa’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 Genoa

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

Next, we have more advanced laminates infused with exotic materials like aramids, carbon, and Kevlar. Peeking at the top of the line, we find the latest technology in DFi membrane sails like Elvstrøms EPEX or North Sails 3Di. These sails come at a premium price tag, though.

Modern technology has given us more economical alternatives to traditional Dacron sail fabric. Warp-oriented woven cloth is becoming popular due to its increased ability to keep shape over time without stretching to the same degree as traditionally cross-cut dacron sails.

ProRadial, made by Contender and Dimension Polyant, is a good example and is what I went for when I ordered a new Genoa and main for Ellidah.

North Sails has an  excellent article  that goes in-depth on sail materials.

The difference between a Genoa and a Jib sail

The difference between a Genoa and a Jib is that the Genoa is a headsail that   extends past the mast and   overlaps the mainsail, while the Jib is non-overlapping. The Jib is a smaller sail that is even easier to handle and works excellently when sailing close-hauled and  pointing upwind.  

The larger Genoa also works well upwind but  excels  on any  points of sail  with the wind behind the beam. The Genoa is usually between 120% and 150%, while the Jib is typically between 90% and 115% of the foretriangle size. Both of these sails can be used interchangeably on furling and traditional hank-on systems.

How to Maintain and Care for Your Genoa

Proper maintenance and care of your sails will ensure they operate at their best while minimizing wear and tear. They’ll keep their performance better, make your trip more enjoyable, and you can slap yourself on the shoulder in good consciousness, knowing that you’re taking good care of your equipment. It will save you money in the end, too, which is always nice .

Here are some guidelines on how to preserve and safeguard your Genoa:

  • Regularly rinse the sail with fresh water and allow it to dry thoroughly before storing it. Ensuring it’s dry will fend off moisture and mildew accumulation.
  • Annually service the sail. Inspect for any compromised seams and mend them as needed. If you spot any chafing marks, reinforce the sail with patches at chafe points and add chafe guards to the equipment it comes into contact with. Typically, the spreaders and shrouds
  • Shield the sail from UV rays by storing it properly when not in use. A furling Genoa can be safeguarded by adding a UV strip to the foot and leech.

Check out  this article  to learn more about how to extend the lifespan of your sails.

Final words

Now that we have looked at the Genoa and its functions, you should pack your gear, set sail, and play around with it. Familiarize yourself with how the boat behaves on both tacks, and practice your reefing techniques.

I always stress the importance of reefing; if you don’t understand why now, you certainly will before you know it!

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 .

Exploring The Most Popular Types Of Sails On A Sailboat

FAQ – The Genoa Sail Explained

What is the foretriangle on a sailboat.

The foretriangle on a sailboat refers to the triangular area formed between the mast, forestay, and deck. This triangle is 100%. If you want to order a new headsail, you’ll have to measure and supply the sailmaker with these measurements.

What is the difference between Headsail, Jib, and Genoa?

A headsail or foresail is a generic term for any sail set before the mast. In other words, the Jib, Genoa, and Yankee are all what we call a headsail. Their difference lies in their respectable sizes, shapes, and utility on a sailing yacht.

What is the difference between a Spinnaker and a Genoa?

The Spinnaker and Genoa are distinct types of sails used on sailboats, each serving different purposes and being suitable for various sailing conditions. 

Here are the primary differences between them:

  • A Genoa is designed to be used on all points of sail, while the Spinnaker is made to be used on deep angles between 120 and 180 degrees.
  • The Genoa is relatively flat, while the Spinnaker is shaped more like a balloon and is used in light-wind conditions to capture as much wind as possible.
  • The Spinnaker is much larger than a Genoa and is typically made in a thin nylon fabric. The Genoa, conversely, is made of sturdier materials, making it more durable in stronger wind.
  • The Genoa is easier to handle and operate as the Spinnaker requires the use of a pole to extend its clew to the vessel’s side.
  • While the Genoa can be reefed to adjust for different wind strengths, the Spinnaker is either fully set or fully taken down.
  • The Spinnaker is excellent for downwind sailing in a breeze but can be a challenge to operate and take down when the wind increases.
  • A Spinnaker usually looks better than a Genoa as it often comes in many beautiful color combinations.

The Spinnaker and the Genoa are both great sails. But as with other tools, they serve different purposes.

Why is a genoa sail called a genoa?

The name “Genoa” traces back to the Italian yachting hub of Genova. The Swedish sailor Sven Salén was the great uncle of The Ocean Race Managing Director Johan Salén. During the Coppa di Terreno race in 1926, Sven Salén modified an existing Jib to craft an overlapping Jib, now known as the Genoa sail.

His innovation proved successful as he scored a victory in the race. The sail then got named ‘Genoa’ as a tribute to the city where this historical sailing innovation was invented.

Is it OK to sail with just the Jib?

The Genoa is an excellent sail to fly by itself, especially on deep angles where the mainsail can block the wind. It also works on other points of sail on its own, but combining it with the mainsail will provide better balance in your boat and possibly prevent excessive weather helm. I often sail with just the Genoa when broad-reaching in moderate to strong wind.

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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 size Genoa


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CATALINA 30 MKII sailboat specifications and details on sailboatdata.com Take the above boat for example. I suspect there is enough information in the above listing to know the size of Genoa that the boat is designed for. For example is it a 120, 130, 145 etc? I would like to know how to figure this out, or just read it if it is right there in front of me.  


Hey, I'm no expert but I would say 'it depends.' -Where are you located? Sailing in San Fransisco, where it's always windy or The Chesapeak, where it is usually light? -Are you racing and want the biggest sail for your rating? And sailing with a full crew who can grind in a big sail after each tack, or are you cruising short handed and want an easy to handle sail? I would guess a 135 would be a good fit for most people. Barry  

BarryL said: Hey, I'm no expert but I would say 'it depends.' -Where are you located? Sailing in San Fransisco, where it's always windy or The Chesapeak, where it is usually light? -Are you racing and want the biggest sail for your rating? And sailing with a full crew who can grind in a big sail after each tack, or are you cruising short handed and want an easy to handle sail? I would guess a 135 would be a good fit for most people. Barry Click to expand...


I'm not an expert at this, but that doesn't stop me from having an opinion. Obviously that website uses 100% foretriangle to calculate SA/D ratio. I'm sure some racers will give forceful opinions of how much over 100% a genoa should be to get an optimum SA/D ratio. But I think that how you plan to use the boat, and what waters you sail in, have more to do with genoa selection than any numeric ratios. For most Catalinas, which as masthead rigs are designed more for comfort than performance, I think 130-135 should be the default for a cruiser. It gives generic balance of properties, and with luff pad can be flexible to reduce sail area if you want. I know of people in SF Bay and other higher wind areas that prefer 110-120 for their prevailing conditions. (I chose a 110 for my C250 because I had to tack a lot on a river, and coming about is easier with a small sail.) Some who sail in very low wind areas want a 150. My boat came with a 150 and I didn't like it. It was too heavy and baggy for light wind, and didn't point high enough. I heard someone (can't remember whom, probably on the C34 user group) who said that a 150 is only for a racer who refuses to turn on the motor under any circumstances to avoid a DQ. He said that if you're the type who would fire up the motor rather than sweat to death at 2 kt speed, then get a 135 instead of a 150. So that's what I did, and I'm happier. It's easier to handle and points higher, reduces nicely in higher winds, and when the wind is dead I just motorsail instead of wishing I had a 150. If I really wanted to sail in dead air, I'd get a lightweight asym instead of a heavy, baggy white 150. I suspect more performance oriented sailors will poke holes in my suggestion.  


I would say this depends on the boat also. The C$C35MKIII we sail has both a 135 and 150. She is what I call a " super pointer" and can sail inside most boats her size . The 150 is considerably lighter Marblehead high mod Dacron and really points remarkably well. The jib tracks are very close the the cabin and follow well aft down her swept back stern. It isn't so much about p,idling at 2 knots as with 6-7 knots she can make 4 close hauled in most instances. Your 150 maybe just too heavy fabric as well as too long a foot for your jib tracks. However this sail is a PIA to tack. It curls Ok to 135 but no further. It is the perfect sail for upwind sailingin the lighter air months of July and August which we have. I'd rather sail at 4 knots then the iron Jenny. The 150 is too much sail in 20 k it's of wind unless downwind. Most of our sailing is not cruising long downwind days as a cruiser does. All other months we have a new 135. It handles the heavier winds and reefs quite nicely to 110. Haleakula is a racer cruiser of the early 80s design. Also with our centerboard we rarely reef before 22 unless it's gusty. It all goes to performance. In her early life I raced Haleakala ( beer can ) a lot. In light air she not only could sail inside most boats upwind , but the 150 had her pulling away from almost all 135 jibbed boats With larger waterlines, especially a fractionally rigged one. Since we rarely race as see is adorned with davits, a radar pole, a dinghy, 6-6 volt AGM, comfort is more important, however often we are still sailing with a 150 while others are motoring in July and August.  


David on the masthead Catalina's I've owned the only design limit on size has been the length of the jib tracks. When they were building boats in California 320's were usually equipped with a 135 from the factory. The original owner of my boat was in San Francisco and it is joked received special dispensation from Frank Butler for a 110. My '94 270 came from the factory with a 150 and a friend bought a new one in '06 that came with a 110. Right now I'm running a giant mylar that was supposed to be 155 but wouldn't be surprised if it was a little more. I really would like to extend the tracks a little for this sail.  


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Another to throw into the mix. My Jeanneau came with a 135. While reasonably stretched, it did work for being 20 some odd years old. not great. Got a 155 for racing, and went with a 140 for a new cruise, daysail etc sail. The 140 in MY case is too big for two handed sailing, should have gone with a 130. As I have a mini forestay, pulling that 140+ sail around the forestay which is 3-4' in front of the mast is not real fun, UNLESS, you have someone up front helping get the foot and clew around the stay. A 125-130 lp would have been a better option. As far as pointing goes. My 155 is a better pointing sail than the 140 or 130 3oz nylon drifter sail I have. Due to the fortunetly in board tracks, the traveler being farther back on the 155, the track goes more inbound from mid beam for the 140 and 130. This allows my to point dang near as high as my 110. Which I put some tracks at 9 or 12 degrees off center.....be awhile since I did this, I've forgotten a bit. As noted by myself, and some others, what is the best headsail size LP or % above 100% foretriangle, can depend upon many factors. marty  

blt2ski said: ....As I have a mini forestay, pulling that 140+ sail around the forestay which is 3-4' in front of the mast is not real fun...... Click to expand...


To comment on the original question- the base specs are almost always based on a 100% jib. Choice of something larger is then normally based on the typical winds in the local area. Here on Long Island Sound with its lighter winds, most boats have a 135 or 150 on their furler. In a heavy air location, a 100 to 120 would likely be more common.  


This is somewhat a "how long is a piece of string?" question, with a proper answer being "It depends". Many of the answers above are alluding to that. To break this down, by convention the published sail areas use the 100% foretriangle. This is intended to provide a point of comparison between different but similar boats. The problem with that convention is that it does not work well for boats that have more major differences between their rigs such as masthead vs fractional rigs, and varying proportions between the mainsail area and the 100% foretriangle. Virtually no boat that i know of was designed to actually sail with a jib the size of its 100% foretriangle. The percent of jib size relative to the the foretriangle area that the boat was designed for generally is a product of when it was designed, the chosen rig, and what it was designed to be used for. Almost all production boats from the 1960's were designed as racer-cruisers and designed to race under either the MORC or CCA rule of the day. That rule allowed 180% genoas and most of the boats of that era would have been designed to use a 170-180% genoa and a 105% working jib. If the boat was raced, it might have had a 90% jib for heavier air and a 140-150% high clew genoa. Boats designed to use 180% genoas typically would have an SA/D around 15-16. In conditions below 10-12 knots, they would sailing with that 170-180% genoa and actually be sailing with an SA/D around 20 or so. By the late 1960's and early 1970's, the vast majority of production boats were still designed as 'racer-cruisers' but the popular rating rules had shifted to PHRF and IOR, and those rules only allowed up to 155% genoas. A boat like the Catalina 30 would have been designed to use a 155% genoa and a 110% working jib. Boats of that era had a foretriangle that was proportionately larger as compared to the area of the mainsail the the boats that came before. As a result boats designed to use a 155% genoa typically would also have an SA/D around 15-16. In conditions below 10-12 knots, because the the larger foretriangle area, they would sailing with that 155% genoa and actually be sailing with an SA/D around 20 or so as well. In the decades since, with the change in focus away from dual use racer-cruisers, and as hull forms and keels have gotten much more efficient, stability has increased enormously, deep angle sails have gotten easier to set and fly, and the focus has shifted to more efficient, easier to handle rigs, the proportion has shifted so that the foretriangle is proportionately smaller as compared to the mainsail area. These more modern designed boats are typically designed with SA/D's over 20. They typically are sailed with 110% genoas and sail with an SA/D well up over 22 or 23. Now then, when I started sailing, there was something approaching an ethic which strongly promoted "voyaging by the wind" and a larger percentage of sailing community would not normally consider cranking the engine in winds down to 2-3 knots and would reef and do sail changes when the wind piped up. There was not an inherent better or worse to that. Its just the way it was. But now a days, most folks don't seem to sail in lighter winds, and most folks don't seem to intentionally sail in heavier winds and most have their jibs on furlers. So, most folks with older style rigs use a genoa in the 130-140% range and that works fine for them. Its more work to sail than the 110% genoas on modern boats and the headsails have a narrower wind range, but that isn't a problem with the way that most folks use their boats. It does make it pretty hard to sail in less than 7-8 knots of wind, and the headsail generally needs to be partially furled somewhere around 12-15 knots. But 130-140% genoas generally aren't great sails if you are performance oriented. The geometry of the shrouds on most masthead rigged boats is such that the boat will point higher with a 150% genoa than a 140% genoa and will point higher with a 110% genoa than it would with a 150% genoa. But almost all of this will vary with the specifics of the boat in question. And almost none of the inefficiencies will matter if you are not performance oriented. Jeff  

As an old guy, with old guy friends planning to extend our geriatric sailing as long as possible and living in a place where the afternoon SW is pretty reliable 15-20 and often more, many have been downsizing and are happy about it on boats that traditionally had big genoas. Lot's of 110-120's. If you're tack timing is good, no winch handles required. My current boat fractional with smaller foretriangle as Jeff explains, so we were 110 to start. Our solution to the light air quandary is a G0 (code zero).  

The best resource for guidance on sails and sail design is a sailmaker (as opposed to a sail seller). Tell them where you intend to sail, whether you intend to race or cruise, what you expect of a sail, your own level of sailing experience, and listen to their recommendations. The first time I bought new sails, I had a similar conversation with a North Sails rep, and got sails perfectly suited to my needs and my sailing venue.  

What weight is your cloth by size?  

5.1 Oz. Very tight weave  


I had 150 RF on Frers 36 in lower Tampa Bay/Gulf of Mex. Great for racing/cruising <10kts. Above 10kts, have to go outboard on leads, which hurts pointing. Just got Rolly Tasker 135RF, hopefully can extend wind range to 15-20kts.  

David- The line drawing in the URL pretty clearly shows a 100 job. Cut slightly forward of the mast above, slightly aft of it below, but averaging out a 100, entirely ahead of the mast. Which would mean the factory designed the rig to be balanced with a 100 in "typical" conditions, however they defined that. I'd say with 4 persons on board (no rail meat) and in 10-18 knots or so. If you usually sail light, shorthanded, in light winds like LI Sound? That 100 probably would be inadequate for normal sailing. Horses for courses. What you have in a sail inventory depends on how and where you plan to sail, limited by your budget and sail space. One could easily argue "light air main, heavy air main, triple reefed each, heavy 100, heavy 135, light 135, heavy and light 150, asymmetrical, storm jib" for a basic inventory that covers most conditions. But then even if Santa was paying for it, wtf does the average sailor stow all that stuff?!  

hellosailor said: David- The line drawing in the URL pretty clearly shows a 100 job. Cut slightly forward of the mast above, slightly aft of it below, but averaging out a 100, entirely ahead of the mast. Which would mean the factory designed the rig to be balanced with a 100 in "typical" conditions, however they defined that. I'd say with 4 persons on board (no rail meat) and in 10-18 knots or so. Click to expand...

Catalina 30 sail plan

As usual JeffHs post is very informative but the advice to sit with a skilled sailmaker is probably the best way to proceed. Multiple decisions here before choosing size. Dacron or other cloth or film? Weight? Chord and other features of shape? High clew or deck sweeper? Going on a furler or hanked? Used with or without an adjustable backstay? Employing construction to allow decent shape with partial furling? Is boat set up for other headsails? What range of wind speeds will it be used in? How much money can you spend? How many years of service do you expect? Jeff is right. This is pushing a string until the preliminary thinking is done.  

Give you an example. Close friends with owner of a sistership. Sailing program the same. I went 1.5 oz heavier with my main and 1 oz heavier with both solent and genny. I went with vektron. He with best grade of bainbrigde Dacron. I went with three reefs placed differently and no trysail. Both of us have construction with marks set for a match to two reef positions on ou our headsails. My solent is cut flatter as well. We both added chaff patches on on our headsails. Another sistership did not but has different materials for solent v genoa. I expect to have sails hold shape for a longer service life but he expects a lighter better lighter faster genoa for light air with a shorter service life. I think double head sails no main safer than wing and wing. He likes a full genny on a pole with a main. Neither of us like even an asymmetric. Another sistership always uses an aymetric so is more concerned his boat points well with the genny. We’re happy to give up a degree or two and use the solent not the genny if we need to pinch. Pays your money takes your chances.  


Bob writes in his book that when the ridiculously large gennys (180s) dropped in size, there was no speed penalty ... anyone want to verify or contradict that?  

My purely anecdotal opinion is that it depends on the boat. I occasionally crew on an old full keel boat, and a 180 keeps it driving in light air. The full keel boats need ample power to drive the hull. More modern designs are much more easily driven, and I think a 150-155 can drive them as well as a 180.  


Masthead rigs generally need genoa shifts for wind speed changes.... Which is why my racing masthead rig has: 155 155+ 140 105 Because the mainsail is almost insignificant in the speed of the boat. The Catalina 30 will be best sailed (speed) with a 155 up to roughly 17 knots of wind. After that the boat will gear down nicely with a shift (get this) to a mainsail reef, until about 20-22 knots of wind (depending on railmeat)... then you should switch headsails down to a 135 or so, and full main until about 25 knots (small slot no?)... after 25 knots you will likely want a painter/100% and full main, until about 30 knots when you either are crazy for sailing, or hellbent to sail it until it explodes... then reef and sail on! At about 40 knots I'd be on a painter, and no main, or a hankerchief main to manage helm. 50 knots I'd be crying heavily that the Cat 30 was never designed to survive this. Catalina 30 should be sailed like you stole it. Unless you arent' racing... in which case get what looks pretty and is easy to sail (recommend lazy jacks, roller furling, 125% headsail, and Jimmy Buffet on the radio).. Why did we ask this question again? For the record we had a 170% headsail on our US 27 (masthead rig)... boat went in ANY kind of wind... was overpowered in 10 knots true. That was a sail that provided a lot for a narrow wind range... the bright orange and yellow stripes made it stand out.  

SailingUphill said: Masthead rigs generally need genoa shifts for wind speed changes.... Which is why my racing masthead rig has: 155 155+ 140 105 Click to expand...

I have an old Tanzer 26 all my foresails are hank on my current selection is a storm jib unknown size never used, a 70% working jib my favorite as i am solo, a 150 and a 170 %. Well the other day I tried the 170 light winds predicted about 5nm from my slip the wind picked up to 18knt in the gusts and i was heeled over to 30% Now I know why it looks new? I think I will look into getting it cut down to 100 to 110%. My average speed for the 30nm trip was 4.6knt with the average windspeed about 6 gusting 10 close hauled. the 150 would have been a better choice. the boat slips too much leeward when it heals more than 20 deg. Plus it really sucks to change a big foresail in higher winds.  

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The Genoa Sail: A Guide

Genoa Sails are an essential addition to any sailboat’s gear. They provide extra sail area and power for improved boat performance and efficiency. This guide will help you learn about the different types of Genoa Sails, how to choose the perfect one for your sailboat, and tips for optimizing its performance and care.

Key Takeaways

  • Genoa Sails are large headsails designed for light to moderate winds that produce lift and power for improved speed and performance.
  • There are several types of Genoa Sails, ranging from the standard genoa to the roller furling genoa, each suitable for different applications.
  • Larger sails offer more power but require more skill to handle while smaller sails are easier to manage.
  • Dacron and laminated sailcloth are commonly used for making Genoa Sails, though materials like Kevlar and carbon fiber can also be employed.
  • Careful handling of tacking and jibing should be observed in order to prevent luffing or loss of efficiency.

What is a Genoa Sail?

The Genoa Sail is a type of headsail larger than the jib and commonly used to sail in light to moderate winds. It’s characterized by its size and overlapping design, which allows it to catch more wind and gain greater power than smaller headsails.

Genoa Sails are ideal for cruising or long-distance sailing, as they provide better speed and performance while still being easy to handle.

One of the key advantages of the Genoa Sail is its ability to generate lift, pushing the boat forward and helping maintain velocity in light wind conditions. Its curved shape creates this lift, producing an airfoil effect, resulting in both push and drag.

The Genoa Sail permits greater control and maneuverability as it can be adjusted and trimmed accordingly. This makes it highly versatile, so it can be used on different occasions, from casual sailing to high-performance racing.

Types of Genoa Sail

There are several types of Genoa Sails, each with unique characteristics and advantages. The sail types include the standard genoa, the high clew genoa, the overlapping genoa, and the roller furling genoa.

The Standard Genoa

The Standard Genoa is the most typical type of Genoa Sail, designed for light to moderate winds and characterized by its moderate size with an overlapping design. This overlap typically ranges from 110% to 150%, enabling the sail to catch more wind and deliver more significant power than a smaller jib yet still be gentle enough to manage.

The Standard Genoa is highly versatile, suitable for up and downwind sailing and in different wind conditions, from light to moderate. Its ease of control also makes it great for sailors of various skill levels.

To ensure optimal performance, however, proper trimming and adjustment must be made; this entails adjusting the angle of the sail to the wind, controlling the tension on the halyard lines and sheets, and making adjustments to the leech and foot.

When done correctly, this can lead to excellent speed and performance, which is why it’s such a helpful sail in any sailor’s toolkit.

The High Clew Genoa

Featuring a higher clew than the Standard Genoa, the High Clew Genoa offers better control and maneuverability and improved visibility from the cockpit. It’s beneficial in light wind as it catches more wind and produces more power.

To reach optimal performance, however, some adjustments to the sail’s rigging and trim have to be done; this includes ensuring the halyard and sheets are properly tensioned for better sail shape and angle of attack.

Despite these requirements, the High Clew Genoa is still straightforward to handle, making it suitable for sailors of any skill level. With its improved performance in lighter winds, this type of Genoa Sail can be a great addition to any sailor’s toolkit, particularly those who often go on cruising or long-distance sailing trips.

The Overlapping Genoa

The Overlapping Genoa is a larger and more powerful version of the Standard Genoa, with an overlap between the sail and mast that ranges from 110% to 150%. This design allows for enhanced lift and power, perfect for racing and high-performance sailing.

With this kind of sail comes a higher level of difficulty in controlling it in more intense winds, so it is better suited for experienced sailors.

Despite its challenges, the Overlapping Genoa remains popular among those looking to get maximum speed and performance from their vessel. Its increased size and power can provide a significant boost in racing scenarios in which every second counts, and experienced sailors push their limits.

For optimal results, however, proper trimming and adjustment are essential; this includes ensuring the sail’s angle to the wind, halyard tension, and sheet tension are all correctly balanced for a practical shape without supporting too much power or getting damaged.

The Roller Furling Genoa

The Roller Furling Genoa is designed to be easily rolled and stored when not in use, making it convenient and easy to deploy or stow. It’s a popular choice for cruising and recreational sailing due to its simple handling and decreased need for physical labor.

However, its design also limits its performance capabilities compared to other types of Genoa Sails; it can get overpowered in high winds, reducing power and efficiency. As such, this sail is not generally used for racing or high-performance sailing, as these scenarios require maximal speed and performance.

Despite these drawbacks, the Roller Furling Genoa retains popularity among sailors who appreciate its ease of use. However, sailors must take good care of the sail with proper maintenance and consider its limitations when planning their sailing trips.

Genoa Sail Sizes

The size of a Genoa Sail is defined by its relationship to the boat’s foretriangle, which is the triangle between the mast, forestay, and deck. The sail typically ranges from 110% to 150% of the foretriangle, with greater overlap increasing power and lift.

The size of a Genoa Sail can, therefore, significantly affect the boat’s performance and handling. A larger sail can give more power and lift, making it suitable for racing and high-performance sailing; however, this comes at the cost of needing more experience for proper handling, particularly in high winds.

In contrast, smaller sails are easier to control and manage, making them ideal for cruising and recreational sailing; plus, they prove more efficient in higher winds as it generates less drag and won’t overpower the boat.

When deciding on a sail size, it’s essential to examine your boat , including its size, design and intended use. Larger sails may be necessary for race or high-performance scenarios but can be too challenging to manage while traveling; conversely, smaller sails may be better suited for cruising yet could lack enough power or lift when going all out.

Genoa Sail Construction

Dacron is a commonly used material for Genoa Sails as it is durable, easy to handle, and affordable, making it ideal for cruising and recreational sailing.

For more performance-oriented use, such as racing or high-performance sailing, laminated sailcloth (a combination of multiple synthetic fibers with an adhesive) is often employed. It’s lightweight and has higher performance characteristics though special care may be required.

Advanced materials that have been gaining traction in the field are Kevlar and carbon fiber; they provide remarkable strength and durability, which makes them perfect for intense situations, but they cost a lot more money than conventional materials.

Today’s sails employ advanced techniques like radial or tri-radial panels, helping to distribute loads evenly across the sail and heighten performance even further.

Handling Genoa Sails

Proper trimming of the Genoa Sail is essential for creating lift and power and preventing stalling or inefficiency. This involves adjusting the halyard tension to obtain the right sail shape and ensuring that the sheets are correctly tensioned to control the angle of the sail relative to the wind. To adjust the angle of the sail relative to the boat, sailors can move the sheets in or out or change the position of cars or tracks.

Reefing is used when there are high winds, whereby reducing sail size prevents overpowering. This is usually done by partially furling it around the forestay or removing part of it with reefing lines. The reduction depends on wind conditions and boat size; typically, 20-30% should be reduced to maintain control and stability while avoiding damage to rigging and sails.

Once reefing has been done, it’s essential to ensure proper trimming afterward to optimize performance. This includes adjusting halyard tension, sheets, and angle of attack accordingly to achieve an optimal level of sail shape relative to the wind .

Finally, tacking and jibing involve turning through wind direction to change course – these maneuvers must be carefully handled so that luffing or loss of efficiency does not occur.

Difference between Genoas and other sail types

Jibs are an alternative to Genoa Sails, typically used in higher wind conditions and hanked onto the forestay instead of roller-furled. They are smaller than Genoa Sails and generate lift and power as effectively.

Code Zero sails can generate lift and power for light wind conditions, even with very little wind. These sails are larger than Genoa Sails and have a unique shape, making them ideal for racing and high-performance sailing.

Finally, spinnakers are downwind sails designed to capture the wind from behind the boat. These are usually much larger than Genoa Sails, making them perfect for racing or high-performance sailing where speed and efficiency matter.

Genoa Trim and Performance

Maximizing performance for a Genoa Sail involves adjusting the sail’s angle to the wind to achieve the best possible sail shape and angle of attack. This can be accomplished by adjusting the sheets, halyard tension, and sail angle relative to the boat. Proper trimming is essential for creating lift and power while preventing stalling or loss of efficiency.

Optimizing sail shape is another helpful tip for maximizing Genoa Sail performance. This can be done by adjusting the tension and position of the sail to get the right amount of shape and angle relative to the wind. Achieving proper sail shape is crucial for generating lift and power and preventing stalling or loss of efficiency.

Adjusting where necessary, twist is also essential in improving Genoa Sail performance. Twist refers to the difference between the top and bottom angles of the sail, influencing efficiency and power levels. By tinkering with twist, one can optimize their sails performance while generating more lift and power.

Finally, proper maintenance should not be overlooked when it comes to achieving peak performance from a Genoa Sail, and regularly inspecting for damage or wear, cleaning/drying after use, and storing correctly when not in use are all critical steps toward ensuring optimal functioning now and into the future.

Genoa Sails are an invaluable and essential part of any sailboat’s inventory, significantly impacting the performance and efficiency of the vessel. Different types of Genoa Sails exist, each with distinct characteristics and purposes for particular sailing environments. Consequently, selecting the correct sail for your specific needs is essential.

When choosing a Genoa Sail, factors such as use, size, fabric type, and construction quality should all be considered. Additionally, proper maintenance and care of your sail are paramount if you want to reap its full potential over the long term.

Maximizing your Genoa Sail performance can be achieved by adequately adjusting the angle and shape of the sail, optimizing twist when necessary, and consistently maintaining good practice with regard to upkeep.

Genoa Sail FAQs

Q: What is a Genoa Sail, and what is it used for?

A: A Genoa Sail is a large triangular sail deployed on a sailboat’s head stay. It provides additional sail area and power, ideal for light to moderate wind conditions. It is commonly used for cruising, racing, and offshore sailing.

Q: What are the different types of Genoa Sails?

A: Different types of Genoa Sails include standard Genoas, high clew Genoas, overlapping Genoas, and roller furling Genoas.

Q: How do I choose the right size Genoa Sail for my boat?

A: The size of the Genoa Sail depends on several factors, such as the type and size of the boat, sailing conditions, and personal preferences. Selecting an appropriately sized sail to maximize performance and safety on the water is essential.

Q: How do I trim a Genoa Sail for optimal performance?

A: Trimming a Genoa Sail requires adjusting its angle to the wind to achieve the best possible sail shape and angle of attack. This can be accomplished by manipulating its sheets, halyard tension, and angle relative to the boat. Proper trimming allows lift and power generation while preventing stalling or loss of efficiency.

Q: How do I maintain and care for my Genoa Sail?

A: Effective maintenance for a Genoa Sail entails regular inspection, cleaning (after use), storage (when not being used), as well as paying attention to age/condition. Inspecting your sail regularly for any damage or wear; cleaning it after each use; storing it safely when not in use; replacing it if necessary to attain peak performance with optimum safety standards.

Q: How do Genoa Sails differ from other types of sails?

A: In comparison with other types of sails such as jibs, code zeros, or spinnakers, differences between them include size (Genoas are larger), shape (Genoas are more triangularly shaped) as, well as intended use (light-moderate winds).

Flemishing a Line: What is it?

Cleat hitch knot: a boater’s guide, related posts, whisker pole sailing rig: techniques and tips, reefing a sail: a comprehensive guide, sail trim: speed, stability, and performance, cleat hitch knot: a boater's guide, leave a reply cancel reply.

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The Ultimate Guide to Sail Types and Rigs (with Pictures)

What's that sail for? Generally, I don't know. So I've come up with a system. I'll explain you everything there is to know about sails and rigs in this article.

What are the different types of sails? Most sailboats have one mainsail and one headsail. Typically, the mainsail is a fore-and-aft bermuda rig (triangular shaped). A jib or genoa is used for the headsail. Most sailors use additional sails for different conditions: the spinnaker (a common downwind sail), gennaker, code zero (for upwind use), and stormsail.

Each sail has its own use. Want to go downwind fast? Use a spinnaker. But you can't just raise any sail and go for it. It's important to understand when (and how) to use each sail. Your rigging also impacts what sails you can use.

Cruising yacht with mainsail, headsail, and gennaker

On this page:

Different sail types, the sail plan of a bermuda sloop, mainsail designs, headsail options, specialty sails, complete overview of sail uses, mast configurations and rig types.

This article is part 1 of my series on sails and rig types. Part 2 is all about the different types of rigging. If you want to learn to identify every boat you see quickly, make sure to read it. It really explains the different sail plans and types of rigging clearly.

sailboat genoa size

Guide to Understanding Sail Rig Types (with Pictures)

First I'll give you a quick and dirty overview of sails in this list below. Then, I'll walk you through the details of each sail type, and the sail plan, which is the godfather of sail type selection so to speak.

Click here if you just want to scroll through a bunch of pictures .

Here's a list of different models of sails: (Don't worry if you don't yet understand some of the words, I'll explain all of them in a bit)

  • Jib - triangular staysail
  • Genoa - large jib that overlaps the mainsail
  • Spinnaker - large balloon-shaped downwind sail for light airs
  • Gennaker - crossover between a Genoa and Spinnaker
  • Code Zero or Screecher - upwind spinnaker
  • Drifter or reacher - a large, powerful, hanked on genoa, but made from lightweight fabric
  • Windseeker - tall, narrow, high-clewed, and lightweight jib
  • Trysail - smaller front-and-aft mainsail for heavy weather
  • Storm jib - small jib for heavy weather
I have a big table below that explains the sail types and uses in detail .

I know, I know ... this list is kind of messy, so to understand each sail, let's place them in a system.

The first important distinction between sail types is the placement . The mainsail is placed aft of the mast, which simply means behind. The headsail is in front of the mast.

Generally, we have three sorts of sails on our boat:

  • Mainsail: The large sail behind the mast which is attached to the mast and boom
  • Headsail: The small sail in front of the mast, attached to the mast and forestay (ie. jib or genoa)
  • Specialty sails: Any special utility sails, like spinnakers - large, balloon-shaped sails for downwind use

The second important distinction we need to make is the functionality . Specialty sails (just a name I came up with) each have different functionalities and are used for very specific conditions. So they're not always up, but most sailors carry one or more of these sails.

They are mostly attached in front of the headsail, or used as a headsail replacement.

The specialty sails can be divided into three different categories:

  • downwind sails - like a spinnaker
  • light air or reacher sails - like a code zero
  • storm sails

Cruising yacht with mainsail, headsail, and gennaker

The parts of any sail

Whether large or small, each sail consists roughly of the same elements. For clarity's sake I've took an image of a sail from the world wide webs and added the different part names to it:

Diagram explaining sail parts: head, luff, tack, foot, clew, and leech

  • Head: Top of the sail
  • Tack: Lower front corner of the sail
  • Foot: Bottom of the sail
  • Luff: Forward edge of the sail
  • Leech: Back edge of the sail
  • Clew: Bottom back corner of the sail

So now we speak the same language, let's dive into the real nitty gritty.

Basic sail shapes

Roughly speaking, there are actually just two sail shapes, so that's easy enough. You get to choose from:

  • square rigged sails
  • fore-and-aft rigged sails

I would definitely recommend fore-and-aft rigged sails. Square shaped sails are pretty outdated. The fore-and-aft rig offers unbeatable maneuverability, so that's what most sailing yachts use nowadays.

Green tall ship with green square rigged sails against urban background

Square sails were used on Viking longships and are good at sailing downwind. They run from side to side. However, they're pretty useless upwind.

A fore-and-aft sail runs from the front of the mast to the stern. Fore-and-aft literally means 'in front and behind'. Boats with fore-and-aft rigged sails are better at sailing upwind and maneuvering in general. This type of sail was first used on Arabic boats.

As a beginner sailor I confuse the type of sail with rigging all the time. But I should cut myself some slack, because the rigging and sails on a boat are very closely related. They are all part of the sail plan .

A sail plan is made up of:

  • Mast configuration - refers to the number of masts and where they are placed
  • Sail type - refers to the sail shape and functionality
  • Rig type - refers to the way these sails are set up on your boat

There are dozens of sails and hundreds of possible configurations (or sail plans).

For example, depending on your mast configuration, you can have extra headsails (which then are called staysails).

The shape of the sails depends on the rigging, so they overlap a bit. To keep it simple I'll first go over the different sail types based on the most common rig. I'll go over the other rig types later in the article.

Bermuda Sloop: the most common rig

Most modern small and mid-sized sailboats have a Bermuda sloop configuration . The sloop is one-masted and has two sails, which are front-and-aft rigged. This type of rig is also called a Marconi Rig. The Bermuda rig uses a triangular sail, with just one side of the sail attached to the mast.

The mainsail is in use most of the time. It can be reefed down, making it smaller depending on the wind conditions. It can be reefed down completely, which is more common in heavy weather. (If you didn't know already: reefing is skipper terms for rolling or folding down a sail.)

In very strong winds (above 30 knots), most sailors only use the headsail or switch to a trysail.

sailboat genoa size

The headsail powers your bow, the mainsail powers your stern (rear). By having two sails, you can steer by using only your sails (in theory - it requires experience). In any case, two sails gives you better handling than one, but is still easy to operate.

Let's get to the actual sails. The mainsail is attached behind the mast and to the boom, running to the stern. There are multiple designs, but they actually don't differ that much. So the following list is a bit boring. Feel free to skip it or quickly glance over it.

  • Square Top racing mainsail - has a high performance profile thanks to the square top, optional reef points
  • Racing mainsail - made for speed, optional reef points
  • Cruising mainsail - low-maintenance, easy to use, made to last. Generally have one or multiple reef points.
  • Full-Batten Cruising mainsail - cruising mainsail with better shape control. Eliminates flogging. Full-length battens means the sail is reinforced over the entire length. Generally have one or multiple reef points.
  • High Roach mainsail - crossover between square top racing and cruising mainsail, used mostly on cats and multihulls. Generally have one or multiple reef points.
  • Mast Furling mainsail - sails specially made to roll up inside the mast - very convenient but less control; of sail shape. Have no reef points
  • Boom Furling mainsail - sails specially made to roll up inside the boom. Have no reef points.

The headsail is the front sail in a front-and-aft rig. The sail is fixed on a stay (rope, wire or rod) which runs forward to the deck or bowsprit. It's almost always triangular (Dutch fishermen are known to use rectangular headsail). A triangular headsail is also called a jib .

Headsails can be attached in two ways:

  • using roller furlings - the sail rolls around the headstay
  • hank on - fixed attachment

Types of jibs:

Typically a sloop carries a regular jib as its headsail. It can also use a genoa.

  • A jib is a triangular staysail set in front of the mast. It's the same size as the fore-triangle.
  • A genoa is a large jib that overlaps the mainsail.

What's the purpose of a jib sail? A jib is used to improve handling and to increase sail area on a sailboat. This helps to increase speed. The jib gives control over the bow (front) of the ship, making it easier to maneuver the ship. The mainsail gives control over the stern of the ship. The jib is the headsail (frontsail) on a front-and-aft rig.

The size of the jib is generally indicated by a number - J1, 2, 3, and so on. The number tells us the attachment point. The order of attachment points may differ per sailmaker, so sometimes J1 is the largest jib (on the longest stay) and sometimes it's the smallest (on the shortest stay). Typically the J1 jib is the largest - and the J3 jib the smallest.

Most jibs are roller furling jibs: this means they are attached to a stay and can be reefed down single-handedly. If you have a roller furling you can reef down the jib to all three positions and don't need to carry different sizes.

Sailing yacht using a small jib

Originally called the 'overlapping jib', the leech of the genoa extends aft of the mast. This increases speed in light and moderate winds. A genoa is larger than the total size of the fore-triangle. How large exactly is indicated by a percentage.

  • A number 1 genoa is typically 155% (it used to be 180%)
  • A number 2 genoa is typically 125-140%

Genoas are typically made from 1.5US/oz polyester spinnaker cloth, or very light laminate.

A small sloop using an overlapping genoa

This is where it gets pretty interesting. You can use all kinds of sails to increase speed, handling, and performance for different weather conditions.

Some rules of thumb:

  • Large sails are typically good for downwind use, small sails are good for upwind use.
  • Large sails are good for weak winds (light air), small sails are good for strong winds (storms).

Downwind sails

Thanks to the front-and-aft rig sailboats are easier to maneuver, but they catch less wind as well. Downwind sails are used to offset this by using a large sail surface, pulling a sailboat downwind. They can be hanked on when needed and are typically balloon shaped.

Here are the most common downwind sails:

  • Big gennaker
  • Small gennaker

A free-flying sail that fills up with air, giving it a balloon shape. Spinnakers are generally colorful, which is why they look like kites. This downwind sail has the largest sail area, and it's capable of moving a boat with very light wind. They are amazing to use on trade wind routes, where they can help you make quick progress.

Spinnakers require special rigging. You need a special pole and track on your mast. You attach the sail at three points: in the mast head using a halyard, on a pole, and on a sheet.

The spinnaker is symmetrical, meaning the luff is as long as its leech. It's designed for broad reaching.

Large sailing yacht sailing coastal water using a true spinnaker

Gennaker or cruising spinnaker

The Gennaker is a cross between the genoa and the spinnaker. It has less downwind performance than the spinnaker. It is a bit smaller, making it slower, but also easier to handle - while it remains very capable. The cruising spinnaker is designed for broad reaching.

The gennaker is a smaller, asymmetric spinnaker that's doesn't require a pole or track on the mast. Like the spinnaker, and unlike the genoa, the gennaker is set flying. Asymmetric means its luff is longer than its leech.

You can get big and small gennakers (roughly 75% and 50% the size of a true spinnaker).

Also called ...

  • the cruising spinnaker
  • cruising chute
  • pole-less spinnaker
  • SpinDrifter

... it's all the same sail.

Small sloops using colorful gennakers in grey water

Light air sails

There's a bit of overlap between the downwind sails and light air sails. Downwind sails can be used as light air sails, but not all light air sails can be used downwind.

Here are the most common light air sails:

  • Spinnaker and gennaker

Drifter reacher

Code zero reacher.

A drifter (also called a reacher) is a lightweight, larger genoa for use in light winds. It's roughly 150-170% the size of a genoa. It's made from very lightweight laminated spinnaker fabric (1.5US/oz).

Thanks to the extra sail area the sail offers better downwind performance than a genoa. It's generally made from lightweight nylon. Thanks to it's genoa characteristics the sail is easier to use than a cruising spinnaker.

The code zero reacher is officially a type of spinnaker, but it looks a lot like a large genoa. And that's exactly what it is: a hybrid cross between the genoa and the asymmetrical spinnaker (gennaker). The code zero however is designed for close reaching, making it much flatter than the spinnaker. It's about twice the size of a non-overlapping jib.

Volvo Ocean race ships using code zero and jib J1

A windseeker is a small, free-flying staysail for super light air. It's tall and thin. It's freestanding, so it's not attached to the headstay. The tack attaches to a deck pad-eye. Use your spinnakers' halyard to raise it and tension the luff.

It's made from nylon or polyester spinnaker cloth (0.75 to 1.5US/oz).

It's designed to guide light air onto the lee side of the main sail, ensuring a more even, smooth flow of air.

Stormsails are stronger than regular sails, and are designed to handle winds of over 45 knots. You carry them to spare the mainsail. Sails

A storm jib is a small triangular staysail for use in heavy weather. If you participate in offshore racing you need a mandatory orange storm jib. It's part of ISAF's requirements.

A trysail is a storm replacement for the mainsail. It's small, triangular, and it uses a permanently attached pennant. This allows it to be set above the gooseneck. It's recommended to have a separate track on your mast for it - you don't want to fiddle around when you actually really need it to be raised ... now.

US naval acadamy sloop in marina with bright orange storm trysail and stormjob

Why Use Different Sails At All?

You could just get the largest furling genoa and use it on all positions. So why would you actually use different types of sails?

The main answer to that is efficiency . Some situations require other characteristics.

Having a deeply reefed genoa isn't as efficient as having a small J3. The reef creates too much draft in the sail, which increases heeling. A reefed down mainsail in strong winds also increases heeling. So having dedicated (storm) sails is probably a good thing, especially if you're planning more demanding passages or crossings.

But it's not just strong winds, but also light winds that can cause problems. Heavy sails will just flap around like laundry in very light air. So you need more lightweight fabrics to get you moving.

What Are Sails Made Of?

The most used materials for sails nowadays are:

  • Dacron - woven polyester
  • woven nylon
  • laminated fabrics - increasingly popular

Sails used to be made of linen. As you can imagine, this is terrible material on open seas. Sails were rotting due to UV and saltwater. In the 19th century linen was replaced by cotton.

It was only in the 20th century that sails were made from synthetic fibers, which were much stronger and durable. Up until the 1980s most sails were made from Dacron. Nowadays, laminates using yellow aramids, Black Technora, carbon fiber and Spectra yarns are more and more used.

Laminates are as strong as Dacron, but a lot lighter - which matters with sails weighing up to 100 kg (220 pounds).

By the way: we think that Viking sails were made from wool and leather, which is quite impressive if you ask me.

In this section of the article I give you a quick and dirty summary of different sail plans or rig types which will help you to identify boats quickly. But if you want to really understand it clearly, I really recommend you read part 2 of this series, which is all about different rig types.

You can't simply count the number of masts to identify rig type But you can identify any rig type if you know what to look for. We've created an entire system for recognizing rig types. Let us walk you through it. Read all about sail rig types

As I've said earlier, there are two major rig types: square rigged and fore-and-aft. We can divide the fore-and-aft rigs into three groups:

  • Bermuda rig (we have talked about this one the whole time) - has a three-sided mainsail
  • Gaff rig - has a four-sided mainsail, the head of the mainsail is guided by a gaff
  • Lateen rig - has a three-sided mainsail on a long yard

Diagram of lateen-rigged mast with head yard, gaff-rigged mast with head beam, and bermuda-rigged mast with triangular sail

There are roughly four types of boats:

  • one masted boats - sloop, cutter
  • two masted boats - ketch, schooner, brig
  • three masted - barque
  • fully rigged or ship rigged - tall ship

Everything with four masts is called a (tall) ship. I think it's outside the scope of this article, but I have written a comprehensive guide to rigging. I'll leave the three and four-masted rigs for now. If you want to know more, I encourage you to read part 2 of this series.

One-masted rigs

Boats with one mast can have either one sail, two sails, or three or more sails.

The 3 most common one-masted rigs are:

  • Cat - one mast, one sail
  • Sloop - one mast, two sails
  • Cutter - one mast, three or more sails

1. Gaff Cat

White cat boat with gaff rig on lake and three people in it

2. Gaff Sloop

sailboat genoa size

Two-masted rigs

Two-masted boats can have an extra mast in front or behind the main mast. Behind (aft of) the main mast is called a mizzen mast . In front of the main mast is called a foremast .

The 5 most common two-masted rigs are:

  • Lugger - two masts (mizzen), with lugsail (cross between gaff rig and lateen rig) on both masts
  • Yawl - two masts (mizzen), fore-and-aft rigged on both masts. Main mast much taller than mizzen. Mizzen without mainsail.
  • Ketch - two masts (mizzen), fore-and-aft rigged on both masts. Main mast with only slightly smaller mizzen. Mizzen has mainsail.
  • Schooner - two masts (foremast), generally gaff rig on both masts. Main mast with only slightly smaller foremast. Sometimes build with three masts, up to seven in the age of sail.
  • Brig - two masts (foremast), partially square-rigged. Main mast carries small lateen rigged sail.

Lugger sails behind berth with rocks and small sloops in the foreground

4. Schooner

White schooner with white sails and light wooden masts

5. Brigantine

Replica of brigatine on lake with lots of rigging and brown, green, red, and gold paint

This article is part 1 of a series about sails and rig types If you want to read on and learn to identify any sail plans and rig type, we've found a series of questions that will help you do that quickly. Read all about recognizing rig types

Related Questions

What is the difference between a gennaker & spinnaker? Typically, a gennaker is smaller than a spinnaker. Unlike a spinnaker, a gennaker isn't symmetric. It's asymmetric like a genoa. It is however rigged like a spinnaker; it's not attached to the forestay (like a jib or a genoa). It's a downwind sail, and a cross between the genoa and the spinnaker (hence the name).

What is a Yankee sail? A Yankee sail is a jib with a high-cut clew of about 3' above the boom. A higher-clewed jib is good for reaching and is better in high waves, preventing the waves crash into the jibs foot. Yankee jibs are mostly used on traditional sailboats.

How much does a sail weigh? Sails weigh anywhere between 4.5-155 lbs (2-70 kg). The reason is that weight goes up exponentially with size. Small boats carry smaller sails (100 sq. ft.) made from thinner cloth (3.5 oz). Large racing yachts can carry sails of up to 400 sq. ft., made from heavy fabric (14 oz), totaling at 155 lbs (70 kg).

What's the difference between a headsail and a staysail? The headsail is the most forward of the staysails. A boat can only have one headsail, but it can have multiple staysails. Every staysail is attached to a forward running stay. However, not every staysail is located at the bow. A stay can run from the mizzen mast to the main mast as well.

What is a mizzenmast? A mizzenmast is the mast aft of the main mast (behind; at the stern) in a two or three-masted sailing rig. The mizzenmast is shorter than the main mast. It may carry a mainsail, for example with a ketch or lugger. It sometimes doesn't carry a mainsail, for example with a yawl, allowing it to be much shorter.

Special thanks to the following people for letting me use their quality photos: Bill Abbott - True Spinnaker with pole - CC BY-SA 2.0 lotsemann - Volvo Ocean Race Alvimedica and the Code Zero versus SCA and the J1 - CC BY-SA 2.0 Lisa Bat - US Naval Academy Trysail and Storm Jib dry fit - CC BY-SA 2.0 Mike Powell - White gaff cat - CC BY-SA 2.0 Anne Burgess - Lugger The Reaper at Scottish Traditional Boat Festival

Hi, I stumbled upon your page and couldn’t help but notice some mistakes in your description of spinnakers and gennakers. First of all, in the main photo on top of this page the small yacht is sailing a spinnaker, not a gennaker. If you look closely you can see the spinnaker pole standing on the mast, visible between the main and headsail. Further down, the discription of the picture with the two German dinghies is incorrect. They are sailing spinnakers, on a spinnaker pole. In the farthest boat, you can see a small piece of the pole. If needed I can give you the details on the difference between gennakers and spinnakers correctly?

Hi Shawn, I am living in Utrecht I have an old gulf 32 and I am sailing in merkmeer I find your articles very helpful Thanks

Thank you for helping me under stand all the sails there names and what there functions were and how to use them. I am planning to build a trimaran 30’ what would be the best sails to have I plan to be coastal sailing with it. Thank you

Hey Comrade!

Well done with your master piece blogging. Just a small feedback. “The jib gives control over the bow of the ship, making it easier to maneuver the ship. The mainsail gives control over the stern of the ship.” Can you please first tell the different part of a sail boat earlier and then talk about bow and stern later in the paragraph. A reader has no clue on the newly introduced terms. It helps to keep laser focused and not forget main concepts.

Shawn, I am currently reading How to sail around the World” by Hal Roth. Yes, I want to sail around the world. His book is truly grounded in real world experience but like a lot of very knowledgable people discussing their area of expertise, Hal uses a lot of terms that I probably should have known but didn’t, until now. I am now off to read your second article. Thank You for this very enlightening article on Sail types and their uses.

Shawn Buckles

HI CVB, that’s a cool plan. Thanks, I really love to hear that. I’m happy that it was helpful to you and I hope you are of to a great start for your new adventure!

Hi GOWTHAM, thanks for the tip, I sometimes forget I haven’t specified the new term. I’ve added it to the article.

Nice article and video; however, you’re mixing up the spinnaker and the gennaker.

A started out with a question. What distinguishes a brig from a schooner? Which in turn led to follow-up questions: I know there are Bermuda rigs and Latin rig, are there more? Which in turn led to further questions, and further, and further… This site answers them all. Wonderful work. Thank you.

Great post and video! One thing was I was surprised how little you mentioned the Ketch here and not at all in the video or chart, and your sample image is a large ship with many sails. Some may think Ketch’s are uncommon, old fashioned or only for large boats. Actually Ketch’s are quite common for cruisers and live-aboards, especially since they often result in a center cockpit layout which makes for a very nice aft stateroom inside. These are almost exclusively the boats we are looking at, so I was surprised you glossed over them.

Love the article and am finding it quite informative.

While I know it may seem obvious to 99% of your readers, I wish you had defined the terms “upwind” and “downwind.” I’m in the 1% that isn’t sure which one means “with the wind” (or in the direction the wind is blowing) and which one means “against the wind” (or opposite to the way the wind is blowing.)

paul adriaan kleimeer

like in all fields of syntax and terminology the terms are colouual meaning local and then spead as the technology spread so an history lesson gives a floral bouque its colour and in the case of notical terms span culture and history adds an detail that bring reverence to the study simply more memorable.

Hi, I have a small yacht sail which was left in my lock-up over 30 years ago I basically know nothing about sails and wondered if you could spread any light as to the make and use of said sail. Someone said it was probably originally from a Wayfayer wooden yacht but wasn’t sure. Any info would be must appreciated and indeed if would be of any use to your followers? I can provide pics but don’t see how to include them at present

kind regards

Leave a comment

You may also like, 17 sailboat types explained: how to recognize them.

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Sailboat in front of NYC with Bermuda mainsail and Jib

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On another forum much opinion about how to calculate and/or approximate and measure size of Genoa sail. As I am a newbie I treat that style of discussion as if it were a multiple choose question on the sailor test. Usually within a dozen posts or sooner The expert will give the short answer then explain it and then quote the rule and where it can be found. Since I don't speak sailor yet (and there's another topic) I often don't get the answer right when I guess. this is one they haven't quite finished yet so I decided to ask You. Here is my guess and extra question. The Genoa size is determined by dividing the 'J' distance by the 'LP' distance and expressing it as a percentage. Where 'J' is the perpendicular distance from the mast to the headstay at the deck and 'LP' is the perpendicular distance from the luff of the Genoa to the clew. sail size as a proportion using a right triangle should be useful to determine need. What's the difference between a Genoa and a Jib or are they the same? Is a headstay and a forstay the same? if the sailboat has a bowsprit is the 'J ' measured from the tip of the bowsprit?  

David W

Making sure I have my grade 6 math right... if my J is 14.75', a 150% would have an LP of 22.15'. So if I am looking at used sails, how do I figure out what the percentage is if only luff, foot and leech measurements are provided?  

Claude L.-Auger

Claude L.-Auger

Simple math again David 1) The longest dimension will be the luff. So usinf a scale i.e 1 foot = 1/4 inch, Trace a line representing the luff on a piece a paper 2) Second longest dimension should be the leech. Using same scale as for the luff, draw a circle whose radius will be equal to the leech lenght scale from one end of the luff line . 3) Now, using again the same scale, draw another circle from the other end of the luff line, using the foot scale lenght as a radius. 4) Your clew will be at the intersection of the 2 circles. 5) Draw a line from that clew to a point crossing the luff line at exactly 90%. That will be your LP line 6) Measure your LP line, then calculate actual real lenght of LP using same scale of 1/4" = 1 foot 7) Then do as Didereaux suggests: LP/J X 100 and voila, you have the % for your boat. Good luck  

George B., s/v Freya

Moving on to High School Math David, buying a used sail is going to involve a little geometry and trigonometry. Besides the LP measurement, you need to calculate where that clew is going to be in relationship to your boat. For a given LP, the clew can be placed relatively high (a.k.a “Yankee Cut”) or low (a la “deck sweeper”). The lower clew will give you more drive and power at the expense of more weather helm, the sail getting hung up on life lines when you tack, and prone to being overpowered in gusts. The higher clew can carry higher winds but by sacrificing power. A clew placed too high or too low might mess up the geometry of the fairleads. You might not have a track long enough for proper fairlead placement. You will need to do some trig to convert the perimeter measurements to LP. You will also want to take down your current sail and measure the edges and LP so you will have something to compare against. A 150% genoa is pretty much a light air specialty sail and you will find that most clews will be rather low – perhaps lower than you want for your (general) purposes. You could consider getting a smaller sail (like, a 135%) with a low foot which will give you almost the same drive as the 150, but you will be able to carry it in higher winds. If it is really light conditions, you can use your a-kite in a reaching mode. A thought on foam luffs. Reefing a roller furling headsail doesn’t work very well IMHO. When the wind picks up the first thing you want to do is flatten sails which is done by tensioning the halyard for the headsail, thus stretching the luff. Once you begin to roll in the sail, this tension is transferred from the sail to the furling gear. Furthermore, the remaining tension is transferred to the head and the tack with little support in the middle part of the luff. This part then sags out and you loose the flat shape you were trying to achieve in the first place. Sail makers will try to compensate for this by sewing in foam strips into the sail so that when you furl, the added material will bind up, giving you more tension in the luff. Does it work? The fast guys say no, the guy selling you the luff will say “pretty good” and practically no one will emphatically say, “yes, if works just as good as a sail with a smaller LP”.  

Thanks guys! I have also been considering a 135% instead of the 150%. This would give me the ability to take it down to about a 100% as opposed to "reefing" the 150 further than is practical instead of dropping the 150 and raising the 110...  


Lloyd and David W Lloyd: To answer some of your other questions... 1)A Genoa is a jib that overlaps your mast or main. So, when your headsail dont overlap, it is a jib. 2)Yes, a forestay and headstay are the same thing. David W One thing you might do before you make up your mind on whether a 150 or a 135 is to check with a lot of your local sailors with similar size/weight boats. Talk to several, not just one or 2. When I was living on the northern gulf coast almost everyone had a 150 because the average winds were fairly light. Now I'm on the south Texas coast and most i have met use a 135 due to the average winds being much stronger. As for how much can be furled in, that is a matter of how your boat will respond to it. Not all boats fall into the norm of i think approx 25-30% rolled in. I have a Catalina 30 and i have a 150 on my roller furling. I have had it furled down to about 100% on many many ocasions and i still maintained control and exceeded hull speed. I know many will find a million reasons why it wont work, but i will tell you that it does for me. Once your sail is on your roller furling, you wont be able to change it during a blow. Is it better to be safe than sorry or sorry you cant sail 95% of the time because your sail is too small? If it gets that bad, roll in your jib all the way, reef your main amd motorsail back to the dock. If you have the money in your budget, get the 135, a storm jib, a spinnaker and a cruising spinnaker. Unfortunately i dont have the budget or the room aboard for all the sails i "need" so i'll just stay with my 150 for now.  

sail size The formulas given previously are probably more accurate, but a sail maker gave me this formula for rough dimensions. (J x % x I)/2 Insert 1 for a 100, 1.35 for a 135, 1.5 for a 150 etc.  

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Genoa / Jib Measurements


Next, you can measure the foot of the sail(2). Use the same technique to measure the foot of the sail as you did for the luff. Give us an idea of how much rounding you have on the foot. “Rounding”, or foot round is the curve of the foot of the sail.

Leech length (3) can be measured the same way as the luff. Take the tape measure from the headboard to the clew. Notice that you have extra cloth if you stretch the tape tight toward the back of the sail. This extra cloth to the main is called “leech roach” This extra cloth gives the sail more area, and is well supported by the battens of the sail. Measure this in the area of each batten. This will give us the amount of extra cloth given to the leech of the main.

Battens, are not always the same for each sail. Measure the length of each batten or batten pocket (5). Also give us an idea of how wide the pockets are and how long they should be for that perfect fit.

Your headboard is the support for all of the extra cloth on the back of the sail. Measure the top of the headboard for the width of the head of the main. Let us know what type of material is used for the headboard, nylon or metal. The mast will have some sort of bend as you look up from the bottom to the top. This is called Spar or “mast bend” (7). By using the halyard, you can gauge how much bend you see , if you look up from the base of the mast. This measurement is in inches and the most bend you may see is about 50% up and can range from 2 to 6 inches. This is how we produce the correct “luff round” so it fits well in the front of the sail and matches the bend in the mast.

We must know the type of mast slug you have for your main, for they vary in size and shape. They may be flat, or round with either webbing to attach them to the sail or shackles. We have a fair way of gauging sail cloth, but the more we know about the sail and how it is to be used, the easier it is to replace it and make it correct the first time.

Better Sailing

Jib Vs Genoa: What is the Difference?

Jib Vs Genoa: What is the Difference?

Most modern sailboats don’t need big overlapping headsails to ensure performance when sailing upwind. In the old days, sailboats were really heavy, their keels were long, and the sail area was the most crucial part that made the boat moving. However, nowadays light masts and rigging are available and facilitate many things while sailing. For example, if you increase the mast’s height and apply a high-aspect sail plan with a jib that overlaps no more than 105%, well this is quite an efficient rigging. So, are you are thinking of going offshore and wondering what sails are the best for your sailboat? Do you want to clarify the difference between a jib and a genoa? Then, follow me and keep reading!

Description of a Genoa

The main characteristics of a genoa are its shape and size. Genoas go past the mast, are triangular, and tend to overlap the mainsail, to some extent. It’s also one of the many headsails that can be set on a Bermudian rig. The numbers 130,150 etc refer to a percentage that has to do about the relationship of the length of the foot of the genoa and from the forestay to the front of the mast. As a result of this operation, i.e. the Luff Perpendicular divided by J (the distance), you get the overlap percentage of the sail.

Keep in mind that the larger the number you get the larger the sail would be. In general, in order to measure genoas, we often use the length of their Luff Perpendicular. In order to construct the LP, you can draw a line from the sail’s clew to the luff, and carefully intersect the luff at the right angle. 

Description of a Jib

The Jib is also a triangular sail that increases sail area and improves handling. Therefore, it increases the sailboat’s speed. Basically, the mainsail controls the stern of the ship whereas the headsail, which sits forward the mast, is most of the time a jib. One of the main functions of the Jib is that it funnels the airflow along the front of the mainsail. This improves the airflow. Moreover, the jib gives control over the bow of the boat, thus making it easier to maneuver the boat. There are different sizes for a jib with the smallest being a storm jib.

In case the boat has a furler, then the size of the genoa or jib can be adjusted according to the wind’s strength, direction, and speed. Usually, jibs are 100% to 115% LP and are used in areas with strong winds. Also, a jib won’t be longer than 115% LP of the fore-triangle dimensions. Lastly, to ensure better performance in high wind speed the smaller area of the jib the better.

What Is The Difference Between Jib and Genoa

>>Also Read: Names of Sails on a Sailboat

Genoa VS Jibs – What Is The Difference Between Them?

Generally, Jibs and Genoas are triangular sails that are attached to a stay in front of the mast. Jibs and genoas are employed in tandem with the mainsail in order to stabilize the sailboat. They usually run from the head of the foremast to the bowsprit. A genoa is like a jib but is larger and reaches past the mast. But, as aforementioned, when the jib overlaps the mast we refer to it as a genoa. Also, a genoa overlaps the mainsail to some degree. Both sails are measured by their Luff Perpendicular percentage, i.e. the area within the fore-triangle that they use. Sometimes, there are large genoas that cover the majority of the mainsail. This mainly happens in light wind conditions where the most sail area is used to increase performance.

And again, when the headsail doesn’t overlap the mast is considered a jib. On the other hand, an overlapping sail is a genoa. Generally, smaller jibs are more lightweight, less expensive, and easy to handle. Jibs might also have a better lifespan as their leeches aren’t dragged across the mast, shrouds, and spreaders. So, all these characteristics make the jibs easier to trim and change. Furthermore, as they weigh less they will heel and pitch less. Lastly, keep in mind that there are different sailcloths weights, and materials that can be used on jibs and genoas. The sail design of each sail is always based on the type of sailboat and the sailing conditions will determine the sailcloth’s weight.

Having Multiple or Less Sails on your Sailboat

In case your sailboat has a larger genoa then you ought to think about getting a smaller headsail. For example, a sail with an LP of around 115% or maybe less. You can use the smaller sail when the wind is getting stronger and keep your genoa in storage. It’s essential to store, protect, and generally take care of your sails a few times per year. So, it’s recommended to often change your sails once in a while. Remember that for every boat has its own sail plan. For example, a boat might need one, two sails, three, etc that will enhance its performance. Each one used for different weather conditions and for different sailing plans.

The rule of thumb says that the fewer the sails less the drag will be. Meaning that you can sail higher to the wind with a single sail rather than having multiple sails of the same aspect ratio and total area. Furthermore, for the same total sail area and same geometrical shape, having multiple sails means that they’ll be less tall. In other words, they’ll catch slower wind closer to the ground. However, for the same total sail area, multiple sails will provide less heeling. This means that you can have lighter structures that support them.

Sail Area and Furling

In the old times, boats used to have long and shallow keels therefore it was crucial to fly a significant amount of sail in order to produce horsepower. But, when a vessel has a light material construction, light masts, and rigging then the height of the mast can be taller without having an effect on the righting moment. So, an overlapping jib, around 115%, results in more efficiency and less dependence on the additional overlap. But, when furling away sail shape from a large genoa you might reduce the sail’s shape efficiency. This is because when using a genoa for strong winds, it’s going to gradually cause an uneven stretch to the Dacron.

Remember that not all sails suit for all kinds of boats. Some boat owners might recommend a specific sail for a specific vessel. But the most important factors that determine what sails suit your boat are the location in which you sail, the type of the vessel, and the captain’s experience. For example, a sail made for Oceanis 331 in Florida will be completely different than a sail made for the same boat that sails in the Meditteranean.

But, what is the best sail size for cruising boats? A 130 or 135% headsail is great because this sail shape is flat thus can be reefed efficiently. However, a 130% headsail doesn’t have a good sheeting angle but is great for offshore sailing. On the other hand, non-overlapping headsails have a narrow sheeting angle so they’re not appropriate for offshore sailing.

In general, light-air sails are large sails and need adequate camber depth to work in light winds. So, when rolling them up and use them reefed you can’t take in enough of the camber to make the sail work windward. And that’s why there are several roller-furling headsails that include lengths of rope or a strip of dense foam that runs along the luff of the sail from the head to the tack.

Apart from that, any sailboat traveling offshore is going to need a small 130% headsail in order to withstand harsh weather conditions. It’s always better to use more than one headsail when voyaging overseas. Last but not least, don’t forget to take into consideration the trade-offs when sailing upwind.

Improve your Sailboat’s Performance

As aforementioned, remember that the most crucial factors that determine the right sail size for your sailboat are the type of your vessel and the kind of passage you’re planning. There are certain things that you can do to improve your sails’ performance, no matter the kind of headsail you have. The first one refers to adding a means of adjusting the sheeting position when reefing and unreefing the headsail. For instance, you can add a block-and-tackle system that can pull the genoa lead forward when the sail is reefed. And when unreefed you can ease it aft. Generally, when moving a lead forward or aft, this changes the angle at which the sheet pulls down on the clew. And when pulling the clew down it trims the top of the jib, but when moving it aft it opens the top of the jib.

The Bottom Line

Modern technology and sail engineering have improved the development of sailcloths, sails’ versatility, and design tools to enhance their performance. Nowadays, you can choose between different types of sails according to the type of your sailboat, location, and experience. So, what’s the difference between a jib and a genoa? In order to clarify the main difference between a jib and genoa you should bear this in mind: When the foot of the headsail is longer than the distance from the forestay to the mast then we refer to a Genoa. Otherwise, the headsail is called a Jib. Basically, a genoa is a large jib that reaches past the mast and overlaps the mainsail. I hope that by reading this article you made clear the difference between a jib and a genoa and how you can enhance your sails’ performance. Wish you a lot of adventurous voyages to come!


Peter is the editor of Better Sailing. He has sailed for countless hours and has maintained his own boats and sailboats for years. After years of trial and error, he decided to start this website to share the knowledge.

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A Sailor’s Guide To Buying New Genoa Sheets

  • July 13, 2023

Table of Contents

Welcome to the world of sailing! One of the most important components of your sailing experience is the genoa sheet, no matter how much of a veteran you are. As you may have deducted, this critical piece of equipment helps control the trim and shape of the genoa sail, allowing you to steer your boat in the right direction and get the most out of your sailing experience.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll take a closer look at what genoa sheets are, how long they should be, the best rope types to use, and how to attach them to your boat. With the right information, you’ll be well on your way to choosing the best genoa sheet for your needs and taking your sailing to the next level. So, set sails and join us on our odyssey!

new genoa sheet example

What are Genoa Sheets?

Genoa sheets are an essential component of sailing. They’re the ropes that control the shape and trim of the genoa sail on your boat, helping balance the boats helm through the water. Sailors can control the angle of the sail in relation to the wind by adjusting the genoa sheets, which ultimately affects the speed and performance of the boat.

If you’re new to sailing – or simply like visual references – think of the  genoa sail  as a large triangular sail that sits at the front of the boat, helping to propel it forward. The genoa sheet runs from the clew of the sail (the lower corner) to the winch or jammers on the boat, allowing sailors to control the shape and trim of the sail.

How Long Should Genoa Sheets Be?

new genoa sheet length measurement diagram

So, how exactly do you determine the perfect length for your genoa sheets? It’s simple, measure from the position of the genoa clew (when trimmed to an upwind position), follow on the outside of the side-stays, go around the front of the mast (or follow the pathway of the clew through a tack) and through the genoa car on the opposite side of the boat. Continue around the winch, then the length across the cockpit to the opposite winch. This will give you enough line to pre-wrap the genoa sheets on the windward winch prior to tacking but not too much where the sheets are getting tangled. Start sailing with them at that length and then trim them back as necessary.

With everything in sailing, there is some trial and error required to find the perfect balance, so don’t rush your decision. And, if you’re unsure of the ideal length for your genoa sheets, try to reach out to a sailing expert.

What Kind of Rope is Recommended for Genoa Sheets?

When you’re choosing the right rope for your genoa sheets, you need to consider both strength and durability. The last thing you want is to be in the middle of a sail and have your sheet break, leaving you in a dangerous predicament. There are a few options to consider when selecting your rope, each with its own benefits and drawbacks.

Dacron or polyester are popular choices for genoa sheets because they are resistant to UV rays and abrasion. This means that it’s less likely to deteriorate or break down over time, making it a reliable option for long-term use. Dyneema®, a high-performance synthetic fiber, is also a great option for its light weight and strength. This makes it easier to handle, but it’s also more expensive than other rope options. If you’re looking for a lightweight, high-performance rope, then Dyneema® is definitely worth considering.

When it comes to strength, you want a rope that has a low stretch. This will give you precise control over your sail’s trim and shape, so you can make accurate, real-time adjustments and get the most out of your sailing experience. But no matter which rope you choose, you need to make sure it’s of high quality and keep it well-maintained. This means storing it properly, inspecting it regularly for signs of wear and tear, and replacing it when necessary.

Genoa Sheet Recommendations

Sailboats 20′ – 26′

10 mm (3/8 in) Diameter

buy here

New England Ropes 3/8in (10mm)

Sailboats 26′ – 36′

12 mm (1/2 in) Diameter

new genoa sheet recommendation

Sailboats 36′ – 59′

14 mm (9/16 in) Diameter

new genoa sheet recommendation

New England Ropes 9/16in (14mm)

How to Attach Genoa Sheets?

Attaching your genoa sheets properly is essential to maximizing their performance. There are two main methods for attaching genoa sheets to your sail: splicing and tying.

Splicing involves weaving the end of the rope through itself to create a loop, which is then secured with a knot. This method is considered more secure and is often used for racing boats. The loop is then attached to the clew of the sail using a shackle or a snap hook, depending on the size of your boat.

Tying, on the other hand, involves tying a bowline knot around the clew of the sail and securing it with a back splice. This method is easier for beginner sailors and is often used for recreational boats. Make sure to use high-quality knots, such as the figure eight knot, and secure them tightly to prevent any slippage.

new genoa sheet shackle attachment

Robship Soft Shackle

It’s also important to consider the type of winch or jammers you have on your boat. Some winches have a special cleat or jammer to secure the genoa sheet, while others have a simple block and tackle system. Make sure you’re familiar with your boat’s system and know how to secure the sheet properly.

Lastly, it’s a good idea to invest in a good quality winch handle , as this will make it easier to adjust the sheet while sailing. A handle with a comfortable grip and a smooth ratchet mechanism will make your sailing experience much more enjoyable.

Last Thoughts

It’s essential to consider factors such as length, rope type, thickness, and attachment method when selecting a genoa sheet. With the right information, you can make an informed decision and ensure you have the best sailing experience possible.

No matter your experience level is, it’s always worth taking the time to understand the various components of your boat and how they work together. So get ready to hit the open water and enjoy a smooth sail with the right genoa sheet by your side.

Happy sailing!


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Jib vs. Genoa – What is the difference?

Jib vs. Genoa

Sailing, a timeless art and sport, has seen numerous technological advancements and design innovations over the years. Among the most critical components of a sailboat are the sails themselves, specifically the Genoa and Jib sails. These two types of headsails play a vital role in maneuvering and performance, each with unique characteristics and applications.

A Genoa sail , often referred to as an overlapping sail, is a large foresail that extends past the mast, providing increased sail area. It’s particularly effective in light wind conditions, where maximizing the surface area exposed to the wind is crucial. The Genoa’s design, size, and trimming are essential factors in harnessing wind power efficiently.

On the other hand, a Jib sail , known as a non-overlapping sail, is typically smaller and easier to handle, especially in strong wind conditions. The jib’s size, shape, and material contribute to its functionality, making it an essential part of the sailboat’s rigging.

Historical Context

The evolution of these sails can be traced back to the early days of yachting. The Genoa sail, named after the Italian city of Genoa, revolutionized sailing performance with its overlapping design. The jib, with its various sizes and cuts, has been a staple in sailing, offering versatility and ease of handling.

Importance in Modern Sailing

In modern sailing, the choice between a Genoa and a jib is not merely a matter of preference but a strategic decision based on factors such as wind conditions, sailing techniques, and the sailor’s experience level. Whether it’s a leisurely sail on a calm lake or a competitive yacht race in challenging marine weather, understanding the differences, advantages, and disadvantages of these sails is paramount.

From sail shape to sail maintenance, from tacking to gybing, the Genoa and jib are integral to sailing performance. They represent not only the heritage of sailing but also the ongoing innovation and technological advancements in yacht design and sailing equipment.

This introduction sets the stage for a comprehensive exploration of Genoa vs. Jib, delving into their characteristics, differences, and practical considerations for sailors. Whether you’re a seasoned sailor or a novice eager to learn, the following sections will provide valuable insights into these essential components of sailing.

Description and Characteristics of Genoa and Jib sails

Genoa description, shape and size.

The Genoa sail is known for its large size and unique shape, often overlapping the mainsail. This overlapping design allows for a greater sail area, enhancing the sailboat’s performance in light wind conditions. The Genoa’s size is measured as a percentage of the foretriangle, with larger Genoas providing more power but requiring careful handling.

Overlapping the Mainsail

The overlapping characteristic of the Genoa sail is what sets it apart from other headsails. By extending past the mast, it captures more wind, translating into increased speed and maneuverability. This design requires precise trimming and rigging to optimize performance.

Measuring Genoas

Genoas are categorized by their size relative to the foretriangle of the sailboat. A 150% Genoa, for example, means that the sail’s area is 150% of the foretriangle. Understanding the measurements and choosing the right Genoa for specific wind conditions is essential for optimal sailing performance.

Jib Description

Shape and function.

The Jib sail, unlike the Genoa, does not overlap the mainsail. Its smaller size and non-overlapping design make it easier to handle, especially in strong wind conditions. The jib’s shape and function are integral to the sailboat’s tacking and gybing, providing control and stability.

Sizes and Types

Jibs come in various sizes and types, each suited for different sailing conditions. From storm jibs, designed for heavy weather, to working jibs used for everyday sailing, understanding the different types of jibs and their applications is crucial for sailors.

Role in Maneuvering the Boat

The jib plays a vital role in maneuvering the sailboat, especially during tacking and gybing. Its size, cut, and material contribute to the boat’s responsiveness and control, making it an indispensable part of modern sailing.

Difference between Jib sail and Genoa Sail

Differences Between Genoa and Jib

Size and overlap.

The most apparent difference between Genoa and Jib sails lies in their size and overlap. A Genoa sail is larger and overlaps the mainsail, extending beyond the mast. This design allows for more sail area, capturing more wind, and enhancing performance in light wind conditions. In contrast, a Jib sail is smaller and does not overlap the mainsail, making it more manageable, especially in strong winds.

Weight and Handling

The weight and handling of these sails also differ significantly. A Genoa’s larger size means it’s generally heavier and requires more effort to handle, especially during tacking and gybing. It may necessitate additional crew members or specialized equipment like roller furling systems. On the other hand, the jib’s smaller size and non-overlapping design make it lighter and easier to manage, even for single-handed sailors.

Usage in Different Wind Conditions

Genoa and Jib sails are suited for different wind conditions. A Genoa’s larger sail area makes it ideal for light to moderate winds, where it can harness more wind power to propel the boat. In contrast, a jib’s smaller size and ease of handling make it suitable for strong winds, where control and stability are paramount. Sailors must consider these differences when selecting the appropriate sail for their journey, taking into account factors like wind direction, sailing techniques, and the sailboat’s rigging.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Genoa and Jib sails

Advantages of genoa, light wind performance.

The Genoa’s large size and overlapping design make it an excellent choice for light wind conditions. By capturing more wind, it can propel the sailboat even when the breeze is minimal, ensuring a smooth and enjoyable sailing experience.

Increased Sail Area

The increased sail area of the Genoa provides more power, allowing for faster speeds and better upwind performance. This advantage makes the Genoa a popular choice among racers and cruisers alike, seeking to maximize their sailing efficiency.

Advantages of Jib

Strong wind performance.

The jib’s smaller size and non-overlapping design make it ideal for strong wind conditions. It offers better control and stability, reducing the risk of overpowering and ensuring a safer sailing experience.

Ease of Handling

The jib is generally easier to handle, especially during tacking and gybing. Its design allows for quicker adjustments and requires less physical effort, making it suitable for single-handed sailors or smaller crews.

Disadvantages and Challenges

Handling difficulties.

While the Genoa offers many advantages, its large size can also present handling difficulties, especially in unexpected wind shifts or for inexperienced sailors. It may require specialized equipment or additional crew members to manage effectively.

Maintenance and Cost

Both Genoa and jib sails require regular maintenance to ensure optimal performance. The Genoa’s larger size may lead to higher maintenance costs and potential wear and tear. Additionally, having both sails in the sail inventory can increase overall expenses for sailors.

Practical Considerations when Buying New Sails

Selecting the right sail, factors to consider.

Choosing between a Genoa and a jib requires careful consideration of various factors, including wind conditions, sailing techniques, geographic location, and the sailor’s experience level. The right sail can enhance performance, safety, and enjoyment on the water.

Geographic Location and Experience Level

The choice may also depend on the specific sailing location and the sailor’s skill level. For example, a Genoa might be preferred in areas known for light winds, while a jib might be more suitable for strong wind regions or for less experienced sailors.

Sail Inventory and Multiple Sails

Benefits of having different sails.

Having both Genoa and jib sails in the sail inventory offers flexibility and adaptability to various sailing conditions. It allows sailors to switch between sails as needed, optimizing performance and control.

Changing Sails According to Conditions

Understanding when to use a Genoa vs. a jib and how to change sails according to wind conditions is a valuable skill. It requires knowledge of sail shape, rigging, and sailing equipment, ensuring a seamless transition between sails.

Technological Advancements

Roller furling headsails.

Modern sailing has seen technological advancements like roller furling headsails, which allow for easier handling of both Genoa and jib sails. This technology simplifies the process of furling and unfurling the sails, making it accessible to sailors of all experience levels.

New Design Considerations

Innovations in sail design, material, and construction have also contributed to the versatility and efficiency of Genoa and jib sails. These advancements provide more options for sailors, enhancing the sailing experience and reflecting the ongoing evolution of the sport.

Conclusion and Recommendations

Summary of key differences.

The comparison between Genoa and Jib sails reveals distinct differences in size, overlap, weight, handling, and usage in various wind conditions. While the Genoa’s larger size offers advantages in light winds, the jib’s smaller, non-overlapping design provides control in strong winds. These differences influence the choice of sail, sailing performance, and the overall sailing experience.

Practical Recommendations for Sailors

Understanding the differences between Genoa and jib sails empowers sailors to make informed decisions. Here are some practical recommendations:

  • When to Use Genoa vs. Jib : Consider wind conditions, sailing techniques, and experience level when selecting the appropriate sail.
  • Maintenance Tips : Regular maintenance, including inspection for wear and tear, ensures optimal performance and longevity of both sails.
  • Invest in Technology : Consider investing in technologies like roller furling headsails to enhance ease of handling.

Future Trends and Innovations

The world of sailing continues to evolve, with innovations in sail design, material, and technology. Future trends may include:

  • Sustainable Materials : Eco-friendly materials for sails that reduce environmental impact.
  • Smart Sailing Technology : Integration of sensors and automation to optimize sail performance.
  • Customized Sail Design : Personalized sails tailored to individual sailing styles and conditions.

These trends reflect the ongoing innovation in sailing, connecting tradition with modernity, and offering new horizons for sailors.

Final Thoughts

The exploration of Genoa vs. Jib sails delves into the heart of sailing, uncovering the nuances, complexities, and joys of this timeless art. Whether a seasoned sailor or a novice eager to learn, understanding these sails’ characteristics, advantages, disadvantages, and practical considerations enriches the sailing journey. It’s a journey that transcends mere sport, connecting us with nature, history, and ourselves. The sails may change, but the essence of sailing remains, an endless adventure guided by the wind, the waves, and the human spirit.

With this conclusion, the article offers a comprehensive understanding of Genoa and Jib sails, providing valuable insights and inspiration for sailors of all levels. It’s a tribute to the enduring legacy and vibrant future of sailing.



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Sail area calculations

Mainsail Area = P x E / 2 Headsail Area = (Luff x LP) / 2 (LP = shortest distance between clew and Luff) Genoa Area 150% = ( 1.5 x J x I ) / 2 Genoa Area 135% = ( 1.35 x J x I ) / 2 Fore-triangle 100% = ( I x J ) / 2 Spinnaker Area = 1.8 x J x I

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Rope diameter

Rope diameter advice and guidelines for mooring lines , halyards and sheets . 

Mooring lines: rope diameter advice

Want to know what diameter to choose for your mooring lines? The table below shows our guidelines for the diameters of mooring lines. Mooring ropes made of polypropylene are weaker and need to be thicker. Mooring ropes of polyester or polyamide can be sligthly thinner. If you have a boat that is significantly heavier than average, make sure to chose a thicker diameter mooring line as well. 

Mooring lines 8-32 mm are delivered from stock .

The diameters in this table are guidelines, no rights can be derived from this.

Sheets and halyards: rope diameter advice

Our guidelines for the diameter of sheets and halyards with a polyester core are shown in the table below. Yachting ropes with high-performance fibers, such as Dyneema ® fibers, Vectran or Stirotex ® core allow for approximately 2 mm smaller diameters. Typically the diameter of sheets and halyards has to fit in with the clutches, cleats and blocks on board. It's best to chose a rope that is 1-2 mm thinner than the maximum diameter of a block.

Check out our selection of sheets and halyards . 

For competitive sailors it is important to optimize the breaking load with weight savings of a rope. We are happy to work with you on that challenge!

Order your halyard or sheet in our webshop. Are you a regatta sailor, cruiser or dinghy sailor?

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Genoa Sheet-Lead Control Systems

A look at adjustable cars and tracks for easy headsail tweaking..

sailboat genoa size

For decades, easily adjusting genoa-sheet leads from the cockpit was a luxury ascribed to the racing sailboat. But todays average daysailer or cruiser equipped with a roller-furling headsail also benefits from a handy, efficient, and safe means of adjusting the genoa sheets lead and optimizing sail performance.

Genoa Sheet-Lead Control Systems

The clew of a reefable headsail moves during the reefing process, and so should the sheet lead position. If the lead is left in the same place when the headsail is reefed, either the sails foot or leech will be over tensioned, while the other edge ends up under tensioned. Proper sail trim has as much to do with the sheet lead angle as it does with how much the sheet is trimmed or eased. By eliminating leech sag or over tension, a crew derives better sail shape and an attendant uptick in performance. The headsail also will maintain its sewn-in shape longer, and with less leech flutter and foot stretch, its lifespan also will be extended.

A lot has changed since our last in-depth look at genoa lead cars (PS, November 1996), so with a dual focus on racing and cruising boats, we rounded up genoa-sheet lead controls for sailboats in the 35- to 40-foot range. Our goal was to measure the genoa-sheet controls operational efficiency, design attributes, construction quality, and ease of installation; price and warranty were also considered. For details on the test protocol, check out the accompanying How We Tested.

What We Tested We tested 11 genoa-sheet lead cars and tracks from the industrys top manufacturers of sailboat deck hardware: Antal, Garhauer, Harken, Nautos, Ronstan, Schaefer, and Seldn.

Genoa Sheet-Lead Control Systems

Photos by Ralph Naranjo

From Antal, we tested the 150-size genoa lead (model 4654), which sports a 60-millimeter sheave and is recommended for sailboats up to 42 feet, along with the model 4520 anodized-aluminum track. Garhauer submitted two of its lead cars (EZ-G3 and EZ-G3B), as did Harken, which sent the G274B and G2747B for review. Seldn delivered three different lead cars (30 HL, 30 CRB/B, and 30 PERF) that all run on the companys 30-millimeter, extruded anodized-aluminum track.

The heavy-duty Nautos 91660 genoa car was the big dog of the pack, weighing nearly 2 pounds with a 120-millimeter lead and a 75-millimeter sheave that spins on roller- and ball-bearing races. We also evaluated Ronstans Series 22 lead car (RC-12231) and track, and Schaefers simple, elegant 17-68 car and 1.25-inch T-track.

One of the first trends we noted among the test products was a move toward more friction-free ball bearings and less use of high-molecular-weight plastic bushings. Both options lessen friction and improve the way a lead car slides down the track. Under no load, the ball bearing-equipped cars got the greased lightning award, but they are more expensive. And when the load is on, ball-bearing lead cars move with less friction. In all instances except with the Harken cars we tested, care must be taken to keep the ball bearings from escaping. The trick is to keep the stub track in the lead and use it to thread the car onto the track. If you slip, the car will shed plastic ball bearings like a broken bag of marbles, heading straight for deck drains and other irretrievable hiding places. Another trick, which Seldn suggested, is using gel shaving cream to hold the last few bearings in place while you attach the end fittings.

Genoa Sheet-Lead Control Systems

A few test units provided bungee-cord assisted retraction to hold unloaded cars in place. Others assumed that the sheets led to roller-furled headsails would keep the cars tensioned.

Antal Antals genoa-lead car (model 4654) slides on a dual-race, ball-bearing surface with one Torlon and one Delrin circuit per side. The car handles vertical, side, and torque loads evenly, and even if the bearings are destroyed, the car remains captive on the track. The reinforced resin sheaves run on an axle with twin ball-bearing races on either side of the sheave. The extruded, anodized aluminum, hollow-section track can be matched with various multi-purchase sheaves that allow for adjustable car control. The box-section track is light and stiff.

The car is a carefully designed and exactingly built piece of deck hardware. The manufacturer has gone to significant effort to galvanically isolate dissimilar metals. The dual-race bearing system supporting the lead car delivers a friction-free spin. The Antal offered the best power in/power out ratio among the lead cars we tested.

Genoa Sheet-Lead Control Systems

For part of our testing, we added an extra block to make the car control line deliver the same 4-to-1 mechanical advantage that most of the other test products had built in. Antal does have a double-sheave end fitting with a becket, but the test unit had only a 3-to-1 purchase. The 4-to-1 ratio was consistent with the test protocol, and the Antal 150 presented the least resistance under the highest loads.

The only downside we could find with the Antal system was the lead cars $612 price tag. Its three-year warranty tied with the Ronstan car for the shortest in the test field.

Bottom line: This car and track may be overkill for the average cruiser-racer in this size range, but boats with large furling genoas and crews spending lots of time racing or cruising offshore will appreciate the optimized adjustment capability, reliable operation, and long-term durability that Antal offers. We Recommend it.

Garhauer The Garhauer EZ-G3 and EZ-G3B both use the same smooth-running, ball-bearing blocks with large-diameter bearings, but the EZ-G3 car has very small Torlon ball bearings and runs on a low-profile T-track. The EZ-G3B rides on medium ball bearings and slides on a stiffer, heavier-duty anodized-aluminum track with a larger cross-section. The latter delivered a 50-percent increase in pull power over the former when 32 pounds of tension was placed on the control line, and its improved effect on sail trim would be noticeable underway. Both Garhauer cars offer a 4-to-1 tackle arrangement for car control, and the sheaves spin like roulette wheels with extra ball bearings.

Genoa Sheet-Lead Control Systems

Garhauers powerful pull goes hand-in-hand with the larger size of its blocks. Testers did note that the smaller-diameter ball bearings used in the EZ-G3, and to a lesser extent the EZ-G3B, are best kept in the lead car. When they escape, they are harder to find than the larger-diameter ball bearings used by competitors.

Priced at $363 for the total package (two EZ-G3 cars and two track lengths), or $182 per car, Garhauer once again finds a balance between performance and aggressive pricing. However, the EZ-G3B and its track are heavier than all other competitors (12 pounds per side); this may be an issue for racers prone to cutting the handles off their toothbrushes.

Bottom line: Cruisers, and racers who are less boat-weight-conscious, will find that the Garhauer systems offer a lot of value, not to mention the raw power in the EZ-G3B, which gets the Budget Buy pick. Testers were not as enthusiastic about the EZ-G3s small ball-bearing lead car alternative. Despite its being equipped with a smooth-running sheave, the block bogged down under load, and its performance fell well behind the EZ-G3B.

Genoa Sheet-Lead Control Systems

Harken Harkens 27-millimeter G274B and G2747B cars had cleverly engineered, lock-in-place, Torlon recirculating ball bearings. The lock-in-place bearings stole the show when it came to slipping ball-bearing lead cars on and off the track.

The G274B incorporates a pressed stainless-steel sheave cage, a nylon-resin GRP sheave, and a bushing-type bearing. The G2747B is identical to the former, except the stainless block cage has a black abrasion-resistant coating and a tang for bungee attachment. It also has a very smooth spinning, larger-diameter sheave that uses ball and roller bearings to reduce friction during trimming. Both systems toggle 60 degrees to accommodate lead-angle offsets, and both sheave cages are wide enough to handle two sheets.

Racers counting weight as well as efficiency should take a close look at the Harken blocks. After repeated testing, it was clear that the most important uptick in efficiency comes from making the track-to-car interface a smooth ride, and thats just what Harken offers in both of these lead cars, with the G2747B having a little extra slipperiness.

Genoa Sheet-Lead Control Systems

Bottom line: The Harken cars are light and compact, but offer lots of power and easy handling. They are the Best Choice for light-displacement boats.

Nautos Among the leads we looked at, the carefully engineered, high load-bearing Holt Nautos 91660 genoa car was in the big-dog pack, along with the Antal, Garhauer, and Schaefer. The wide sheave easily accommodates two sheets, and the sheave cage was well attached to the car via a four-point toggling hinge. There are shackles at each end of the car, but no built-in control blocks, making the car best suited for a winch-tensioned control line. It can be used with other brands of track as well.

Because our testing used a 4-to-1 tackle, we set up such a system to deliver the pull force. The Nautos car delivered results toward the lower end of our test range, but when loaded to 500 pounds, it was still an easy car to slide.

Bottom line: Testers liked the Nautos systems structure and quality of manufacture, but in this tight field of quality products, it was out-performed by other products overall.

Genoa Sheet-Lead Control Systems

Ronstan Ronstans Series 22 lead car (RC12231) runs on Torlon ball bearings, and like most of the other ball-bearing-equipped cars, it comes with a short section of track that keeps the slippery bearings captive. By carefully butting the short keeper track section with the end of the deck-mounted track, the car can be positioned on the boats track much like a railroad car emerging from a sidetrack. The stainless-steel sheave cage mounts to the car via two welded forks, toggling on a smaller-diameter pin. A rubber grommet keeps the clatter down as the lead car toggles.

There was a lot to like in the Ronstan genoa car, and it performed quite well in testing-holding its own with the big dogs. It slid quietly and efficiently on the small, lightweight 22-millimeter track, sounding like a gear train shifting smoothly, rather than a bag full of silverware being dragged along the deck. The grommet placed on the toggle leg tamed the slat-slat sound caused by a flailing sheave, and the lead had enough side-to-side play to cope with a wide range of car-to-clew geometry. We did have to lash on a block to arrive at 4-to-1 parity with others tested, but there is a 3-to-1 setup that would work just fine.

Genoa Sheet-Lead Control Systems

Bottom line: Ronstans lead car gave Harken a run for its money, but it was nosed out by the latters captured ball-bearing race and five-year warranty. Nevertheless, this is a compact and capable system that will perform well, and we can Recommend it.

Schaefer Schaefer displays both simplicity and elegance in its stainless-steel 17-68 car and wide, nicely machined anodized-aluminum sheave cage. The bushing-and-axle supported sheave offers a wide lead that will easily accommodate two sheets during sail changes.

The spring-dampened toggle is a nice touch that will diminish clatter in rolling conditions offshore. A high molecular-weight plastic track bushing is an alternative to ball and roller bearings. As might be expected in a bushing-type car, the efficiency was not up there with the plastic ball-bearing gear we tested, but it is more likely to take the ravages of time and environmental harassment in stride. And its slight increase in friction may be a fair trade for the simplicity and reliability.

Testers especially liked the Schaefer units nut-and-bolt sheave axle and the fact the user can easily remove and replace key parts, even the bushing surface. They were further impressed by the high-quality stainless-steel work and the efficient fiddle-block tensioning control system.

Bottom line: The overall quality of the Schaefer gear and its user-friendly maintenance abilities make it a good choice for those headed over the horizon. Its the Best Choice for bluewater voyagers and cruisers in far-flung locales.

Seldn The three different leads Seldn sent us to review define the companys approach to genoa-car design. The compact, high-load 30HL plastic-bushing car came with an inclined base and an up-angle lead that puts less load-handling stress on key parts of the cast, double-sheave cage and car. The casting includes built-in sideplates for control-line sheaves. Testers found that the configuration made rigging control lines a bit of a nuisance, but because this is only done to set the system up, we did not consider it a major issue. The price, reasonable efficiency, and compact design all made this car a solid competitor.

The 30CR B/B is a Torlon ball-bearing car with the same sheave and cage as the 30HL. Testers liked that its built-in blocks delivered a 4-to-1 pull. The bushing-supported sheave and ball-bearing car were the right combination, delivering a smooth-riding, compact lead. A rubber mini-fender stopped the clatter linked to a flailing sheet, and the load on the control line increased evenly all the way through the range.

Seldns performance car, the 30 Perf, is nicely designed and engineered. It incorporates a longer ball-bearing car and a stainless-steel sheave cage and toggle that also compensated for lead-angle changes 90 degrees off the toggle axis. Opposite the car control block was a becket to attach a bungee cord or a second lead on the same track. It was the only lead we tested that offered a two-plane toggling ability to better align the sheave. The long ball-bearing car had to have a second block added to achieve a 4-to-1 ratio, but it did not run as smoothly on the track as the 30CR B/B.

Bottom line: There were features found in each of these blocks that testers looked on favorably. The 30CR B/B incorporated a ball-bearing track-to-car interface, slid smoothly, and earned high marks for design attributes. Despite its $439 price tag, the 30CR B/B is a PS Recommended piece of hardware.

Conclusion Both racers and cruisers benefit from underway sheet-lead adjustability, and our test results showed that no one product answers all needs. For the more competitive boat owners aboard lighter-displacement boats, the Harken and Ronstan systems were neck-and-neck. Testers liked the smooth slide of each of these cars. Ronstan uses a thick rubber grommet to tame the slat-slat clatter of a flailing sheet, but Harken leaves users with the sound of speed. In the end, it was Harkens trapped ball-bearings, full complement of track ends, and other features that sealed the deal. The Harken G274B and G2747B get the Best Choice for lightweight performance boats, and Ronstan earns our Recommendation.

Those with higher-displacement boats should consider the Antal and Schaefer. The former delivers the apex of efficiency, and the latter is well-made gear thats easy to inspect and can be repaired with a minimum of specialized parts. For those headed offshore, the Schaefer is the Best Choice. Seldns 30CR B/B was a solid performer and for those not tethered to a tight budget, it too is Recommended.

Garhauers EZ-G3Bs ring pins are snag prone and its toggling range is limited, but it is a lot of hardware, performed well, and boasts a lot of efficiency for $182 per car. It gets the Budget Buy pick.

Whichever unit you select, check out the options list for things that will make installation easier. For example, buy extra ball bearings if your system uses them and make sure that secure end stops prevent an inadvertent fly-off-the-track disaster.

Genoa Sheet-Lead Control Systems

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sailboat genoa size

The Different Types Of Sails And When To Use Them – Complete Guide

sailboat genoa size

Sail forms an integral part of a sailboat. When you sail on the open water and observe other boats (in various sizes), you’d have noticed how each boat type has a specific model of sail. If you’re a beginner in boating, you must know that there are a ton of different sails and they each have their own purpose. 

As a general setup, sailboats will use three common sails, including headsail, mainsail, and specialty sail. Due to the varying wind conditions and the model of the sailboat, there are many types of sails including jib, genoa, trysail, storm jib, code zero, gennaker, and spinnaker. 

While that sounds like too many models of sails, you can easily differentiate between them and choose the ideal model based on your purpose. This article guides you on this aspect. Let’s begin!

Different Types of Sails & When To Use Them

1. mainsail.

Mainsail is by far the most widely spotted sail model, and it’s usually fixed to the boom and fitted behind the mast. This offers the highest mileage to your sailboat, thereby maximizing speed and performance. 

You can use a mainsail if:

  • You’re concerned about the performance
  • You need to go faster and utilize all wind power 
  • You need to steer your boat irrespective of the wind’s status
  • You’ve a large boat and can offer adequate space to this sail. 

This mainsail displays a wide surface area to make the most out of the available wind condition. As a result, you can steer your boat quite easily. However, the downside is its size. It is very large and hard to store if you need to take it down for some reason.

Check out my other article all about maintaing sails!

2. Headsail

Similar to a mainsail, it’s very easy to spot a head sail. Just look at the bow of the boat and see if there is a sail. If you see one then yes that’s a headsail. Also called a jib or genoa, a headsail is smaller in size compared to a mainsail and attaches in front of the mast to the forestay. The Foresail will not have a boom for the clew of the sail to attach to. The clew will be attached to the foresails sheet. It can be used without the mainsail in certain conditions but for the most part the two sails are used together. The foresail is always forward of the main.

The headsail comes in many different forms such as a jib, genoa, spinnaker or storm jib. The most common headsail is a jib or genoa.

You can use a headsail if:

  • Your sailboat is set up for it.
  • You don’t want to use the mainsail at this time.
  • Your mainsail is not usable.  

The biggest advantage of a headsail is the option to protect yourself even if the wind turns unpredictable or wild. This all depends on the type of headsail you are using.

So, what are the different types of headsails? Let’s take a look! 

As more boaters chose to use a headsail for their boats, the jib was introduced as one of its forms. The Jib is a form of headsail that is attached to a shackle present on the deck’s front region. 

The Jib is a sail that does not go past the mast when it is raised and in use. If it goes past the mast then you probably have a genoa.

You can use a jib if:

  • You are out for a normal day of sailing in moderate wind speeds
  • You have a roller furling. Which is a sail that wraps up around itself.

Some weather conditions can make maneuvering harder or tighter than usual. As a result, it’s essential to use a jib in such cases. It functions well with boats containing a roller furling as the jib handles different positions and tackles the movement of the boat at ease. 

2.2 Genoa 

Just when you’ve got acquainted with the jib, genoa comes into the picture as a larger version of the jib. If you’re boating along a coastal region, the genoa sail is the one widely used and is attached to the front area of the deck as well.

Here’s a quick trick to find out if a boat has a genoa sail. This genoa is usually larger than a Jib. This means that the genoa effortlessly overlaps and extends itself beyond the mast, thereby covering the mainsail as well. 

You should use a genoa sail if:

  • You’re planning to sail in minimum wind conditions. Less wind means you need more sail.
  • You find the wind to originate from the rear area. 
  • You own a large boat. Remember that genoa can partially or completely cover the mainsail too. Larger sails for larger boats!

While it’s great for sailing in regular conditions, there are downsides associated with it. A genoa can put you in a dangerous situation if you are sailing in high wind conditions and don’t have the ability to furl in the sail. Furling in the sail will reduce the area of the sail and catch less wind.

Genoas do come in many sizes as well such as 110% or 120%.

The next section of the sail list are ones that aren’t necessary but can be helpful in certain situations. Let’s look at specialty sails!

3. Specialty Sail

While headsails and mainsails are quite commonly used, there are also specialty sails in the market to address specific requirements. Some of the widely seen specialty sails are spinnakers, storm jibs, and code zeros. 

3.1 Spinnakers

Spinnaker is a sail dedicated to downwind and is quite large. Think of a beautifully covered parachute.

It’s easy to spot spinnakers as they resemble kites or parachutes. However, it crosses the bow of the boat and isn’t attached to the forestay.

Unlike the genoa sail that covers the mast, a spinnaker fails to do so. The advantage of a spinnaker is the surface area. When the wind is light, the spinnaker can catch a lot more wind giving you more speed. The Spinnaker is usually fixed to three points – pole, halyard, and sheet.

You should use a spinnaker if:

  • You have minimal wind on a run. 
  • You are trying to harness as much wind power as you can.

While it has a wide surface area, the downside is its inability to steer the boat during strong wind conditions. It can even put the passengers at risk when the wind is at high speeds. 

Make sure you have experience before trying out the spinnaker.

3.2 Storm Jibs

Storm jib is another type of specialty sail meant exclusively for rough weather. It’s a tiny, triangular structure that helps during offshore racing or cruising. Just think of it as a smaller jib.

You should use a storm jib if:

  • You’re going to sail in heavy weather conditions. 
  • You anticipate high wind speeds.
  • You’re going to be in an offshore race and they are an approved sail type.

Note: In the case of an offshore racing requirement, it’s critical to take prior permission from the regulatory authority for using a storm jib. 

3.3 Code Zeros

Code zero is another updated version of a spinnaker that’s meant to be a combination of genoa and gennaker sails. It resembles the look of a genoa but is a lot bigger. 

You should use a code zero if:

  • You’re looking for an overlapping flying headsail. 
  • You’re sailing only in light air conditions.
  • You’re looking for an alternative to a Genoa. 

Having said that, a code zero or a screecher does the job of a genoa with better efficiencies. 

3.4 Trysail  

Trysail is another type of specialty sail that’s tiny, triangular, and can be fixed right above a gooseneck on the sailboat. 

The Trysail is less known in the market as most boaters go ahead with common mainsails and headsails. It’s essential to acknowledge trysail as a front-and-aft mainsail model. It offers excellent performance and contains a permanent pennant in it. 

You should use a trysail if:

  • You’re sailing in heavy weather conditions. 
  • You’re looking for a storm replacement. 
  • You are experienced with using them.

The quadrilateral sail in a trysail is usually turned and bent to a mast, and this helps in heading the vessel during windy conditions. 

3.5 Gennakers

If you’ve been able to spot genoa and spinnaker in the past, identifying a gennaker is incredibly easy. A gennaker is a hybrid sail form that is small, slow, and requires no pole attached to the mast. 

You should use a gennaker if:

  • You’re looking for a smaller version of a spinnaker. 
  • You’ve no space to fix a pole to the mast. 
  • You require the sail to be easily manageable. 
  • You’re sailing in a region requiring minimum downwind levels. 

Choosing a hybrid sail has a lot of benefits as it combines the usefulness of 2 sail models. However, being aware of their cons is critical to planning a safe sail.

As you begin using these sails, you can also look for better customizations. There are drifters, wind seekers, and other jib types that are meant to handle different wind conditions. 

How Many Sails On A Sailboat ?

In general, a sailboat contains two sails. Two sails is the typical setup for the best performance of the boat during different wind conditions. It’s essential to pick your two sails based on your sailing plan.

Why Are There Two Sails On A Sailboat?

A sailboat uses two sails because the wind left over by the first sail is easily caught by the second sail. This helps in steering the sailboat to a better extent and gives the sailboat more power.

Final Thoughts

Sails are one of the major assets of a sailboat. From managing wind to maximizing the performance and longevity of a sailboat, the type of sails you use, plays a huge role. From the various sail types listed in this article, you can choose the best model that fits your sailing routine. Just make sure to remember to check and make sure they are the correct size for your vessel.

Make sure to plan ahead and have the right sails for your sailing weekend. Cheers!

Boatlifehq owner and author/editor of this article.

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Home > Resources > Jibs vs Genoas

Jibs vs Genoas

14 November 2019

Ask Precision Sails , Downwind , Headsail , Sails , Spinnakers , Technical Tags: asymmetrical spinnaker , code zero , genoa , Headsail , jib , spinnaker , staysail , symmetrical spinnaker , wing on wing

sailboat genoa size

Jibs and Genoas are triangular sails which are affixed to a stay in front of the mast. Typically they run from the head of the foremast to the bowsprit. Jibs and genoa’s are used in tandem with a mainsail to stabilize the vessel and are usually measured by their Luff Perpendicular percentage, that is, how much area within the fore-triangle they use.

Jibs are typically 100% to 115% LP and are generally used in areas with heavier winds. The smaller area of a jib allows it to be able to perform more efficiently in greater wind speed without the need to furl away sail shape. Typically a jib will be no greater than 115% of the fore-triangle dimensions.

A genoa is similar to a jib but is larger and reaches past the mast. It will typically overlap a mainsail to some extent. Occasionally, some genoas are so large that if you look at the boat from the side the majority of the mainsail is covered. These are used in lighter air when the most sail area is needed to increase performance.

Technically a foresail that does not overlap the mast is considered a jib, but an overlapping sail is a Genoa. Very likely you will hear the terms used interchangeably. In an effort to standardize which size sail belongs in which category, we have broken down each as follows:

#1 Genoa is 150%

#2 Genoa is 135%

#3 Jib is 115%

#4 Jib is 95%

Smaller jibs are much easier to handle and are especially popular if you are short on crew, besides being less expensive. Non-overlapping sails may also have a longer lifespan since their leeches won’t be dragged across your shrouds, spreaders, and mast. Another benefit is that the weight is significantly lighter. This has two values. First, you will be able to handle them easier both to change and to trim. Secondly, the lower weight means less heeling and pitching.  Cross Cut and Tri-Radial designs are available for all sizes.

135% Furling Headsail for a Dufour 38

However, it is important to note that various cloth weights may be used on jibs and genoas as the sail design based on the boat and sailing conditions will determine what weight will be needed.

Isn’t It Better To Have More Sail Area And Furl Away Whats Not Needed?

Older boats were significantly heavier with longer keels, so it was necessary to fly as much sail as possible to power up. With lighter craft, including lighter masts and rigging, the mast height can be taller without affecting the righting moment. Therefore, a jib that overlaps around 115% becomes quite efficient, resulting in less reliance on the additional overlap. Furthermore, furling away sail shape from a larger genoa for heavy air usage causes uneven stretching in the Dacron over time as well as reducing the efficiency of the sail shape.

A great way to determine which size headsail you need is to get involved with a local club, search on a forum, or have a  conversation with a sail consultant . From the massive amount of information available you should be able to see what owners of the same boat have gone with.

It is important to note that while most owners of the same boat might recommend the same sail, the geographic location and experience level of the captain will be the most important factor in which sail to purchase. A sail made for a Catalina 27 in Seattle will be completely different than a sail made for a Catalina 27 sailing through the Bahamas.

Sail Inventory And The Benefit of Multiple Sails

Most sailors dislike changing sails, but smart sailors know that it is foolish to go out with only one working headsail.

If you already have a larger genoa you may want to consider a smaller headsail with a luff perpendicular of around 115% or less. You can keep your genoa in reserve and use the smaller sail with the increasing breeze. Often changing out your active sail inventory will only need to be done a few times a year, when the conditions demand it.  You can learn more about storing your other sails  and how to  prevent UV damage in our prior posts.

Not every boat needs to have every possible headsail in it’s inventory. One or two carefully designed sails will do more than enough to give your boat the variety needed for the various conditions and future sailing plans you will face. The bottom line here is that you won’t need to change them as often.

135% Furling Headsail on a Hunter 36

If you think you might need a little more power in light conditions, a Code Zero might be what you are looking for. Crossed between a larger genoa and spinnaker, these sails are optimal for sailing in lighter conditions close to the wind. An torque line is a solid line built through the luff of the Code Zero and rotates when a furling unit is turned making it easier to set and douse.

If you are looking for better downwind performance, read more about  symmetrical spinnakers, asymmetrical spinnakers, and code zero sails .

Wing on Wing

Sailing wing on wing is ideal for sailing on a dead run downwind when you notice a loss of power caused by your mainsail stealing the air from your headsail. To do this set the main and headsail to opposite sides but keep an eye out for accidental jibes.

Wing-On-Wing: Mainsail and 135% Furling Headsail on a Hunter 36


In addition to improvements on the sailboats themselves, modern technology has allowed for the developement a wide variety of fabrics and design tools to improve the performance of sails. This adaptability will give you a better range for each type of sail. Especially one which is custom made for your boat, location, and experience. Correctly  trimming your headsail will help to improve its performance.

Seaward 25 135% Furling Headsail and Mainsail Design

JIB Calculator

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24 fishermen rescued from half-submerged ship in rough seas off Japanese island, but 1 found dead

A Japanese tuna fishing boat went aground on a rocky shore of one of Izu islands south of Tokyo after engine trouble, and all but one of its 25 people aboard were safely rescued by the Japanese coast guard. (March 4)

In this photo provided by Japan Coast Guard, a coast guard helicopter hovers over a fishing boat tilting almost to the side, for their rescue, off Kozushima, southwest of Tokyo, Monday, March 4, 2024. A tuna fishing boat went aground near one of Izu islands southwest of Tokyo after an engine trouble. ( Japan Coast Guard via AP)

In this photo provided by Japan Coast Guard, a coast guard helicopter hovers over a fishing boat tilting almost to the side, for their rescue, off Kozushima, southwest of Tokyo, Monday, March 4, 2024. A tuna fishing boat went aground near one of Izu islands southwest of Tokyo after an engine trouble. ( Japan Coast Guard via AP)

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TOKYO (AP) — A Japanese coast guard helicopter rescued 24 fishermen as they desperately clung to the deck of a tilting , half-submerged ship being pounded by high waves Monday morning off an island chain southwest of Tokyo. One crewmember thrown from the rocking ship into the rough seas before the arrival of the rescuers was found dead.

The Fukuei Maru No. 8 stalled due to an engine failure Sunday evening in the Pacific Ocean, about five hours after it departed the Yaizu Port in central Japan en route to South America for tuna fishing, according to the coast guard statement.

It apparently drifted in the rough seas and was blown by the strong wind, and the captain sent a distress signal about five hours later, saying his ship hit the rocks, the coast guard said. It said that within two hours of the rescuers’ arrival at the scene, the ship reported to them that one crew was missing.

The coast guard sent three patrol ships and three helicopters with special rescue teams to the site where the 56-meter (183-foot), 379-ton ship went aground just north of Kozushima Island, part of the Izu group and about 170 kilometers (43 miles) southwest of Tokyo.

La madre del opositor ruso Alexei Navalny, Lyudmila Navalnaya (izquierda), y la suegra visitan su tumba un día después de su entierro, en el cementerio Borisovskoye, en Moscú, Rusia, el 2 de marzo de 2024. (AP Foto)

Public broadcaster NHK showed the crewmembers standing against the bridge of the half-submerged ship as the waves pounded into it, each person waiting for their turn as fellow crewmembers were airlifted one by one by the helicopter hovering overhead.

The ship carried 20 Indonesian crewmembers and five Japanese, including its captain, the coast guard said.

The man thrown into the water was found washed ashore and was pronounced dead at a clinic nearby. He was the ship’s first engineer and was a 67-year-old Japanese man.

The cause of the ship’s engine failure and loss of power was not immediately known.

sailboat genoa size


  1. A Sailor's Guide To Buying New Genoa Sheets

    sailboat genoa size

  2. Understanding Sailboats and Sailing

    sailboat genoa size

  3. How to trim a genoa sail

    sailboat genoa size

  4. Genoa Photos

    sailboat genoa size

  5. SailboatSizes

    sailboat genoa size

  6. Understanding Sail Dimensions and Sail Area Calculation

    sailboat genoa size


  1. Sail Boats

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  3. Victrix

  4. Measuring for a new SAIL

  5. Onboard the Vortex 60

  6. Sailing Questions answered live


  1. Genoa (sail)

    A genoa sail is a type of large jib or staysail that extends past the mast and so overlaps the main sail when viewed from the side, sometimes eliminating it. It was originally called an "overlapping jib" and later a genoa jib. ... Sail racing classes often specify a limit to genoa size. Genoas are classified by their size; a modern number 1 ...

  2. How to determine Genoa Size

    In other words the ratio of genoa to jib areas is the same as the ratio of genoa to jib foot measurements. And yet it seems conventional to divide a genoa's LP by the boat's J to get the genoa's size as a percentage of the foretriangle, even though the math is wrong. Why is that? Cheers, Randy Stafford S/V Grenadine C&C 30-1 #7 Ken Caryl, CO

  3. How to Measure for a New Headsail (Jib or Genoa)

    This is taken by hauling a tape measure up your halyard until it reaches the top and measuring straight down to the base of your mast. While you have your tape at the top take the time to also measure the maximum luff length by measuring to the attachment on your furler or on the deck (hank on sails). The J measurement is done by measuring from ...

  4. Understanding Sail Dimensions and Sail Area Calculation

    You might think that the only sail dimensions you need to calculate their areas would be the length of the foot and the height of the luff. But you would be wrong ... For instance a 135% genoa has a foot 35% longer than 'J' and a 155% genoa 55% longer. Areas are calculated as follows:~ Area (135% genoa) = (1.44 x I x J)/2, and.

  5. The Genoa Sail Explained: A Complete Guide

    A Genoa is a headsail extending past and overlapping the mast. Genoas are typically larger than 115% of the foretriangle, with sizes varying between 120% and 150%. This sail is often combined with a smaller main sail on masthead-rigged bluewater vessels but is also common on modern fractionally rigged vessels.

  6. What size Genoa

    If the boat was raced, it might have had a 90% jib for heavier air and a 140-150% high clew genoa. Boats designed to use 180% genoas typically would have an SA/D around 15-16. In conditions below 10-12 knots, they would sailing with that 170-180% genoa and actually be sailing with an SA/D around 20 or so.

  7. How to determine Genoa size?

    The percentage label is shorthand for the relative size of the genoa or jib based on the specific boat. Likes: jon hansen. jssailem. Oct 22, 2014 20,813 CAL 35 Cruiser #21 moored EVERETT WA ... Advertise the sail by its dimensions, condition, sailmaker and the size sail it was for your boat. Given the other jibs you have, is this one larger or ...

  8. The Genoa Sail: A Guide

    The size of a Genoa Sail is defined by its relationship to the boat's foretriangle, which is the triangle between the mast, forestay, and deck. The sail typically ranges from 110% to 150% of the foretriangle, with greater overlap increasing power and lift. The size of a Genoa Sail can, therefore, significantly affect the boat's performance ...

  9. The Ultimate Guide to Sail Types and Rigs (with Pictures)

    It's roughly 150-170% the size of a genoa. It's made from very lightweight laminated spinnaker fabric (1.5US/oz). Thanks to the extra sail area the sail offers better downwind performance than a genoa. It's generally made from lightweight nylon. Thanks to it's genoa characteristics the sail is easier to use than a cruising spinnaker. Code zero ...

  10. Genoa size

    Nov 27, 2005. #8. sail size. The formulas given previously are probably more accurate, but a sail maker gave me this formula for rough dimensions. (J x % x I)/2 Insert 1 for a 100, 1.35 for a 135, 1.5 for a 150 etc. Not open for further replies. On another forum much opinion about how to calculate and/or approximate and measure size of Genoa sail.

  11. Genoa / Jib Measurements

    Genoa / Jib Measurements. First, take your headsail either laid out over a flat area, or raising the sail on the mast. Use a long tape measure and measure the (1) luff of the sail. This is the length of the front of the sail. Be sure you have the sail stretched out well to keep the measurement accurate. If you are using the mast, send the ...

  12. Jib Vs Genoa: What is the Difference?

    In case the boat has a furler, then the size of the genoa or jib can be adjusted according to the wind's strength, direction, and speed. Usually, jibs are 100% to 115% LP and are used in areas with strong winds. ... On the other hand, an overlapping sail is a genoa. Generally, smaller jibs are more lightweight, less expensive, and easy to ...

  13. A Sailor's Guide To Buying New Genoa Sheets

    Genoa sheets are an essential component of sailing. They're the ropes that control the shape and trim of the genoa sail on your boat, helping balance the boats helm through the water. Sailors can control the angle of the sail in relation to the wind by adjusting the genoa sheets, which ultimately affects the speed and performance of the boat ...

  14. Jib vs. Genoa

    The Genoa sail is known for its large size and unique shape, often overlapping the mainsail. This overlapping design allows for a greater sail area, enhancing the sailboat's performance in light wind conditions. The Genoa's size is measured as a percentage of the foretriangle, with larger Genoas providing more power but requiring careful ...

  15. Understanding the Function and Design of a Genoa Sail

    The overlapping Genoa is a type of Genoa sail that extends beyond the mast and overlaps with the mainsail. It is used in sailing to improve the boat's performance. This sail provides several benefits: 1. Improved Upwind Performance: The overlapping Genoa increases the sail area, allowing the boat to generate more power and sail closer to the wind, resulting in better upwind performance.

  16. Sailboat Rig Dimensions Official Website

    Sailboat rig dimensions official website will help you calculate sail area. Sailboat Rig Dimensions Database ... Genoa Area 150% = ( 1.5 x J x I ) / 2 Genoa Area 135% = ( 1.35 x J x I ) / 2 Fore-triangle 100% = ( I x J ) / 2 ... Bigger ships could have several masts. This will vary depending on the size and configuration of the ship. The ...

  17. Genoa sheet for a sailing boat

    5 - Genoa sheet. Important rope characteristics for a genoa sheet are: low elongation, good grip, and flexibility. Grip end flexibility are particularly important for sailing yachts up to 36 ft, where there is still a lot of manual rope work. Larger sailing boats carry the genoa sheets on a winch and that makes that grip fibers are not important.

  18. Rope diameter advice

    The table below shows our guidelines for the diameters of mooring lines. Mooring ropes made of polypropylene are weaker and need to be thicker. Mooring ropes of polyester or polyamide can be sligthly thinner. If you have a boat that is significantly heavier than average, make sure to chose a thicker diameter mooring line as well. Yacht length.

  19. Genoas and Other Jibs

    Genoa sizes are described with a percentage; i.e., 98%, 135% or 150%. These numbers refer to the measurement of the sail's "Luff Perpendicular.". The percentage is not based on the foot length, but on the boat's "J" dimension. "J" is the distance, along the deck, from the forestay to mast. For example, on a boat with a 10-foot ...

  20. Choosing the Right Headsail for your Sailboat

    With sailing you always have to consider the trade-offs.". Still, in general a 130- to 135-percent headsail is the most versatile size for cruising boats, largely because the sail shape is flat enough that it can be reefed with some efficiency. Larger sails, on the other hand, are typically also light-air sails, and in order for them to work ...

  21. Genoa Sheet-Lead Control Systems

    We tested 11 genoa-sheet lead cars and tracks from the industrys top manufacturers of sailboat deck hardware: Antal, Garhauer, Harken, Nautos, Ronstan, Schaefer, and Seldn. Photos by Ralph Naranjo From Antal, we tested the 150-size genoa lead (model 4654), which sports a 60-millimeter sheave and is recommended for sailboats up to 42 feet, along ...

  22. The Different Types Of Sails And When To Use Them

    Also called a jib or genoa, a headsail is smaller in size compared to a mainsail and attaches in front of the mast to the forestay. The Foresail will not have a boom for the clew of the sail to attach to. ... Unlike the genoa sail that covers the mast, a spinnaker fails to do so. The advantage of a spinnaker is the surface area. When the wind ...

  23. Jibs vs Genoas

    Technically a foresail that does not overlap the mast is considered a jib, but an overlapping sail is a Genoa. Very likely you will hear the terms used interchangeably. In an effort to standardize which size sail belongs in which category, we have broken down each as follows: #1 Genoa is 150% #2 Genoa is 135% #3 Jib is 115% #4 Jib is 95%

  24. 24 fishermen rescued from half-submerged ship in rough seas off

    A Japanese tuna fishing boat went aground on a rocky shore of one of Izu islands south of Tokyo after engine trouble, and all but one of its 25 people aboard were safely rescued by the Japanese coast guard. (March 4) Photos. 1 1 of 1 | In this photo provided by Japan Coast Guard, a coast guard helicopter hovers over a fishing boat tilting ...