The Ultimate Guide to Sail Types and Rigs

What’s that sail used for? In general, I’m not sure. So I’ve created an idea. I’ll show you everything you need to learn concerning sails and rigs within this piece.

What are the various types of sails? The majority of sailboats have only one mainsail and one headail. The mainsail is typically a fore-and-aft Bermuda rig (triangular with a triangular shape). Genoa, or jib, is the headsail used. The majority of sailors have other sails to deal with different situations including the spinnaker (a popular downwind sail) the gennaker, the code zero (for use upwind), and the storm sail.

Every sail is unique and has its specific purpose. Are you looking to speed downwind quickly? Make use of spinnakers. But don’t simply raise any sail and then go for it. It is important to know the best time (and what) to utilize every sail. Your rigging can also influence what sails you can put on.

This post is part one of my series on sails and rigs. Part 2 is about the various kinds of rigging. If you’re trying to learn to identify each boat that you pass be sure to go through the article. It explains all the various sail plans and different kinds of rigging in a clear manner.

Different Sail Types

In the beginning, I’ll provide an overview of the basics of the sails listed below. After that, I’ll guide through the specifics of each type of sail, and also the sail plan which is the ancestor of choosing the right type of sail so to speak.

Visit this page if are looking to just scroll through some pictures.

Here’s a listing of various sails models:
(Don’t be concerned if you don’t yet comprehend all the vocabulary, I’ll be able to explain the meanings in a moment.)

  • Mainsail
  • Jib, triangular keep sail
  • Genoa Large jib which extends over the mainsail
  • Spinnaker – large balloon-shaped, downwind sail designed for light airs
  • Gennaker – a crossover of Genoa and a Spinnaker
  • Code Zero or Screecher – Upwind spinnaker
  • Reacher or Drifter is a hugely powerful, strong, hanked onto Genoa, but constructed from light fabric
  • Windseeker – tall narrow, high-clewed, and a light Jib
  • Trysail is a smaller mainsail for front and back for storms that are heavy.
  • Storm Jib – Small jib designed for severe weather.

The large table below which explains the types of sails and their applications in depth .

I realize, I’m aware … This list can be a little confusing, so in order to comprehend the sails, we need to put them into a structure.

The primary difference between different sail types is their location. The mainsail is positioned in front of the mast which is essentially behind. The headsail is situated in the front on the top of the mast.

We generally have three kinds of sails aboard our vessel:

  1. Mainsail: The big sail behind the mast that is fixed to the boom and mast
  2. Headsail: The sail that sits on the front of the mast that is attached to the mast as well as forestay (ie. jib or genoa)
  3. Specialty sails: All utility sails, such as spinnakers – balloon-shaped, large sails that are designed for downwind using

The other significant distinction we should be aware of is the functionalities. Specialty sails (just the name I thought of) are each different in their functions and are made for specific situations. Therefore, they’re rarely up however, most sailors have at least one of them.

They are typically affixed on the front of the headsail or as a head sail replacement.

The sails that are specially designed are divided into three categories:

What Is The Difference Between a Genoa and Jib?

Written by Gabo in Comparative, What is the process?

I’ve been in the community of sailors for more than 10 years and encounter new terms for the same thing nearly every single day. The left on a boat is referred to as port, and sheets are made of rope or sheet, etc. It’s the way it works. In the case of sails, it’s similar; however, there are numerous complicated terms that are frequently commonly used to refer to sails.

This is also the case with the jib as well as the Genoa, however, that is over today! This article is focused on explaining the difference between two kinds of foresails (or headsails).

A Jib can be described as a foresail (headsail) that does not extend further aft than the mast. A Genoa, on the other the other hand, is more expansive and will cover the mast as well as a portion of the mainsail. A jib sail is ideal in powerful winds and is easy to manage, while the genoa is great for sailing downwind with light winds.

Though often misinterpreted It isn’t identical to Genoa. Now that we know the fundamentals, what does it actually mean if you want to be the best sailors?

Jib Genoa
Size It is smaller than the foresail triangle More extensive than the foresail triangle
Weight Light Heavy
Easy handling Easy The process can be difficult
Storing away Easy The process can be difficult
Main use Strong winds (storm jib) Light winds
There are major distinctions between Jib and Genoa

Main Differences Between a Jib and a Genoa Sail

To fully comprehend what jibs and genoas are, it is necessary to understand some terms.

  • The triangle of the foresail is the area between the front stay as well as the mast when viewing the vessel from the side.
  • The headsail (or staysail) is the foremost sail that is attached to the forestay and extends back toward the mast.


In comparing the two types of sails the primary aspect to consider is the size. A jib as stated earlier is so large its clew (the rear corner of the sail) overhangs the mast. This is referred to as Genoa. The difference in size causes different characteristics of the sail and we’ll discuss further below.

Viewing the boat from the side, often the genoa gets so huge it is difficult to see the mainsail. However, on a jib, the sail is always able to fit within the triangle of the forestay.

In this photo, you can see the triangle of the foresail in yellow and the headsail that extends beyond the mast. It’s red also known as Genoa.

Jibs and genoas can be separated by the percentage of the extent to which they fill up the triangle of foresail (the space between the deck, forestay as well as mast). A jib can only be considered a jib when it is within the mark of 100% (filling the space, but not over, the space of the foresail triangle). Anything higher than that, 130 percent, and so on. could be classified as a Genoa.

The boating world is full of confusion and, naturally, it is the same with regards to the names of sails, even although it is the most popular way of classifying sails there are those who believe that jibs could be up to 130 percent. There are those who employ the terms Genoa and Jib interchangeably, but

So long as you can see the triangle of the foresail and the amount of space that the sail occupies You now know the kind of sail it is.


Genoas and jibs are constructed from the same materials and therefore the heavier weight from a genoa comes due to a larger sail area as well as additional reinforcements. Jibs are generally more straightforward to mount due to its weight, and because it’s a smaller size to carry.

Ease of Handling

A jib that is handled under sail is a bit easier than a genoa that is larger because the jib isn’t extended over the mast. It’s not stuck or gets caught up in the spreader or even a side stay (which often happens with genoas). Tacking is easier and more fluid and ideal for those who are just beginning.

If you’re using a hank-on device moving to the larger Genoa can be a challenge to raise, but obviously can be lowered by using electric winches.

Potential Longevity

As we have discussed previously that the smaller jib has fewer contact points with the other components of the vessel. Fewer contact points mean less chafing, and possibly longer lifespan; this could, naturally, be drastically reduced if we are dealing with a storm jib that is used only during extremely stormy conditions.

Stowing Away and Attaching The Headsail

Smaller size and weight makes stowing much easier. It’s not just that it can be packed away more easily and easily, but moving sailing sails from their stowaway place up to the “ready to hoist” position is easy as opposed to the arduous “I’m walking with arms full.”

Sailing Basics: When To Use The Genoa

It is recommended to use your genoa if the wind is low and you’re not receiving enough speed from your mainsail or jib configuration…

It’s the perfect time to switch to the bigger and more powerful Genoa. Genoas bring more wind to the mainsail, thereby increasing the lift and speed of your boat.

Catamaran Freedom: How to sail downwind on a catamaran!

Overpowered on monohulls occurs when the angle of the boat’s heel increases (the boat is tilted to the side) but it’s speed on the vessel doesn’t. A catamaran behaves differently and doesn’t tilt, rather, you need to be aware of the table of wind speed to ensure you don’t end up breaking the mast or crashing.

If you’re interested in knowing the reasons why and when catamarans capsize based on data I would suggest that you read this article by me. How catamarans can capsize.

Sailing Basics: When To Use The Jib

The primary purpose of the jib is the creation of an airfoil, that feeds the mainsail fluidly flowing air. This is a result of less turbulence, and better efficiency in comparison to the mainsail even though the jib is only an extremely small sail area.

Smaller headails like the jib are employed for long-distance travel which means the danger of having to endure the weather for days is a real possibility. When cruising on the ocean such as this, the majority of vessels use a multi-headsail setup, in which at the very least, one must be smaller than a Jib.

Additionally, there’s room for the storm Jib, something made explicitly to withstand extremely high winds. Staysails of this type can be divided into two kinds, or they can be of the hank-on style and you’ll be required to hank off your other head sail prior to mounting the storm sail.

Then it’s the kind you can put on top of the headsail that is already furled. The storm jib is a bright orange color, and it also provides more strength in the materials and sowing. The storm jib is smaller than your regular Jib.

Main Similarities Between Genoa And Jib

As we’ve seen earlier there are some distinctions between them, mostly in terms of size, and when you should utilize these. But, aside from that, they have many things that are more common to both than the things that separate them.

Both are staysails or headsails (want to know the catamaran’s parts? check this out) and offer balance and power to your cat.

In most cases, a headsail will suffice to keep the boat at a comfortable and comfortable speed. However, what you’ll see is that the boat will feel an entirely different feeling when not using the mainsail. It is also simple to sail on your own and its roller-furling mechanism allows you to add or retract the sail area simply while allowing the crew to relax.

However, the mainsail generally needs a few people to climb up on the deck, wrap it away and secure it.

Raising, Reefing, and Furling a Headsail.

The genoa and Jib can be placed on a furling system that rolls the canvas to the woodsy area when not being used. This is the most commonly used setup as it’s fast, easy, and very secure.

Both sails are able to use the Hank-on method (picture above) which is more sluggish as well as requires greater effort from the crew, but reduces airflow disturbances that a semi-rolled-up furling system can cause.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is The Difference Between a Headsail and a Jib?

This is a question that’s asked frequently and hopefully, having read the previous paragraphs, you are aware that Jib is a tiny headsail type, the same way Genoa is a big headail type.


If you have any memory of this article, I’d recommend this as the main thing you remember;

A jib is smaller in size and doesn’t cover the mainsail or mast; Genoa is larger and extends over the mast. The Jib is ideal for stormy conditions and is much easier to carry, use, and then attach. This version of the Genoa is heavier, more suitable for light wind conditions, and is optimized to perform better downwind!

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