Anonymous asked in Cars & TransportationBoats & Boating · 1 decade ago

What is the smaller triangle sail used for on a sail boat? and do you need it?

8 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    Its called a Headsail or jib and it provides most of the power on almost ever sloop rigged sailboat its better to have one because it balances out the helm and gives ALOT more speed to the boat as well as it causes more heel (tipping). When sailing remember when in doubt let it out...

    Source(s): 9 years sailboat racing experience
  • 1 decade ago

    In most small boats the sail you are thinking of is the headsail. If is small it is called a jib. If it is larger than the triangle formed by the mast and the bow of the boat, it is called a genoa or 'jenny'. A sloop, which is a boat with one mast, one large mainsail and one jib, can maneuver and go just fine without the jib and just the main. It will be a bit slower, but much easier to operate for a newbie. The jib not only makes the boat go faster by adding more sail area, it acts as an airfoil, like an airplane wing to generate a force "lift" by ducting the wind between it and the mainsail. So it's effect is amplified. But.... changing direction with the jib is more complicated than just turning. The lines controlling it must be switched as the jib flutters around and moves to the other side of the boat (and the wind). This maneuver is called 'coming about' or tacking and is part of the fun. The chinese fire drill you see on racing boats while tacking, is a coordinated effort by the crew to make coming about efficient and fast. So.... you can live just fine with the headsail, but it ain't as much fun.

    Source(s): Sailor 40 years experience, president of the solar powered boat engine company.
  • 1 decade ago

    I think the general consensus is that a jib is a head-sail flown from a bowsprit. The terms blur in modern use but the classically trained will have many specific names for the particular sails depending on the rig.

    The head-sail gives the ability of pointing higher than any other rig type - for instance a cat rig - so has a clear advantage in racing. If a rig is specifically built to use a head-sail then not having one flown can affect the helm, and the balance of the vessel markedly - often for the worse.

    At the rear of a ketch you often find a triangular mizzen sail (it can be gaff, gunter, sprit - lots of shapes). This rig is very flexible and stable, very proven for cruising and extremely capable - it happily sails ahead, astern and to lee under a skilled hand.

    The triangular shape of a modern head-sail is dictated by the space between the fore-stay or strop, the deck and the mast.

    A design without stays may or may not be able to fly a head-sail. There are many ancient and modern types that neither require or need a head-sail.

  • 1 decade ago

    The smallest sails NEEDED on a sail boat is a Storm Jib and a Tri Sail, they are both triangular in shape and will keep you stable in strong winds and seas, if that does not work than you need a sea anchor !!, then a life raft, indeed !

    Source(s): been there done that, spent 10 days in a life raft
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  • 1 decade ago

    There are many different kinds of triangular sails, depending on the type of sailboat you're referring to. A triangular sail can be a jib, main, mizzen, spinnaker, staysail, genoa, foil, screecher, cutter, top sail, storm sail or lateen (and there are likely others).

    Basically all the sails do the same thing, they form an airfoil that the wind passes around to provide forward power for the sailboat.

    Do you need it? It depends on the sailboat, how much wind there is and what direction, relative to the wind, that you want to sail. Sooner or later, you'll probably want it.

    More info here of you care to look:

  • 1 decade ago

    Just to be totally pedantic about this (in a vain attempt to stop the continual degredation of nautical terms, like 'helming', you don't 'wheeling' your car do you?) a sail set directly forward of the mast is called a forestaysail not a jib or a genny or any other name you care to think of.

    A jib is set forward of the 'forestay' (sails are named after the spar or stay they are attached to) and not all boats or ships with a spar sticking out the front have a bowsprit. A bowsprit supports a jib-boom, a second spar laid ontop of the bowsprit, so technically speaking a single spar sticking out the front of a cutter is not a bowsprit but a jib-boom and a sloop, a vessel with only one sail forward of the mast does not have a jib (because it doesn't have a jib-boom) but a staysail.

    As to answering the question, it is used to baIance the sailplan, no more, no less.

    I rest my case.

    Source(s): Hundreds of years of sailing ship development! But Howard Chapelle if you must have a name.
  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    I believe the smaller sail is called the "jib" ... you can maneuver this sail by pulling it back and forth to steer your boat.

  • 1 decade ago

    Hanging out over the front of the boat?

    That would be the jib.

    Need, no you don't need it.

    Without it your boat will handle differently.

    Source(s): Inland waters guru
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