Parts of a Sail

There are many different parts of a sail and they all do different things. It is important to know the different bits so that you know how to manipulate them to your advantage and also be able to use the sailing lingo as best you can.

Here is an image of the different parts of a sail:

  • Leech - The back of a sail and this part is important in determining genoa position on the close haul. Also flaps violently on the genoa and mainsail when there is alot of wind and the boat is going fast.
  • Luff - The front of a sail and this part is important in finding the best sail trim for both the mainsail and genoa. When either sail begins to 'luff', the luff of each sail begins to flap indicating the sail is not pulled in enough or the boat is too close to the wind (on a close haul).
  • Head - The top of a sail and where the genoa halyard or mainsail halyard is attached to when pulling up the sail
  • Foot - The bottom of the sail and where sail is attached to the boom in the case of the mainsail. The foot of the genoa usually lies on the front deck.
  • Clew - The bottom back part of the sail, where the outhaul is attached on the boom in the case of the mainsail and where the gibsheets go through in the case of the genoa
  • Tack - the bottom front part of the sail, where the boom is attached to the mast via the gooseneck in the case of the mainsail and where the genoa is attached to the forestay.
  • Centre of Effort - The central front part of the sail, where the most aerodynamic lift is generated and this part must be trimmed totally correctly for the most efficient sailing to occur.

Usually the sail is not perfectly triangular and a roach is created. A roach is where extra material is put into the sail to give it a more curved centre when put into the wind. This is usually done to mainsail and sometimes to genoas.

The mainsail also has eyelets for the cunningham and outhaul on the tack and the clew respectively. As well as this, the sail has reefing lines and reefing hooks as well mainsail tell tales. The mainsail also usually has battens to keep the sail in shape.

The genoa has an eyelet for the gibsheets and a eyelet at the front to connect the sail to the boat by the forestay. The genoa also has tell tales and a small see through window to enable the crew to see any obstructions or boats coming their way through this blind spot.

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