Know More About Sails And Sailing

Sails: Know More About Sails And Sailing

A sailboat has many parts. All the parts work together to make the sailboat move. The sails are one of the essential components of a sailcraft which is a tensile fabric which uses the wind to make the sailing craft move forward. The sail is attached to a mast, spar or is connected to string suspended to the mast.

Sails: Know More About Sails And Sailing
Sails: Know More About Sails And Sailing

Material For Sails

The sail of a sailcraft should be extremely tensile. The weaving of a sail-cloth has many vital factors: initial modulusbreaking strength (tenacity)creep, and flex power. In earlier times the sail-cloth was made from cotton canvas or flax. In the 21st century, materials used include nylon, where lightweight and elastic resistance to shock load is needed.

For triangular sails, we use a range of fibres. It includes Dacron, Kevlar and other liquid crystal polymers like Vectran. The main thing is that we should always choose the sail according to the type of sailing vessel.

The fabric options for sails can we divided into three main categories:

Woven Fabrics- These are long-lasting and very cost-productive. But it has low shape retention and is more substantial than the other options.

Laminated For Panelled Sails: It is less durable than the others, but it has much better shape retention. Also it much lighter than the previous option.

Laminated Membrane: These are built-in significant sections and are known for the best shape retention. They are very durable and light. But they are the most expensive too.

Sails: Know More About Sails And Sailing
Sails: Know More About Sails And Sailing

Parts Of Sails

The top of the sail is known as the head of the sail. Another part of the sail is the tack which comprises the lower front corner of the sail. The bottom of the sail is known as the foot of the sail. Luff is the forward edge of the sail whereas leech is the backward edge the sail. Last but not the least clew is the back corner of the sail.

Types Of Sails


The mainsail is yet another part of sailing with a big sail behind the pole. This type of sail attracts to the mast as well as the boom. When putting on a square-rigged vessel, it becomes either the lowest or the biggest sail on the pole.

Some mainsail designs are:

1) Square top racing mainsail

2) Racing mainsail

3) Cruising mainsail

4) Full-batten Cruising mainsail

5) High roach mainsail

6) Mast furling mainsail

7) Boom furling mainsail


The headsail is the one between the forestay line and mast. A headsail comes in a variety of shapes and sizes. Some of them are the jib, genoa and spinnaker. On the other hand, a genoa jib overlaps the mainsail, providing maximum power in light winds.


A spinnaker is a sizeable balloon-type sail attached to the front of the boat. It is specifically designed to sail downwind. These are usually made of nylon and are very bright coloured. Spinnakers have the largest sail area and can move the ship with very little wind to a great distance.

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