Westsail Owners Alliance - Thread: "Sail Names"
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Thread: "Sail Names"

12,268 posts on 2,444 threads   •   From Mar 07, 2004 - Jan 08, 2012


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Sail Names

Stephen and Lu Ann Yoder

I've read a ton of stuff but I'm not sure I've ever gotten definitive answers about sail names. Can anyone help?

When is a jib a "yankee"?
What constitutes a "No. 1 jib"?
Is there also a "No. 2 jib"?
What's the difference between a "drifter", a "lapper", a "reacher", and a "genoa"?

Any help would be greatly appreciated.


Aaron Norlund


As I've come to understand them:

Yankee: any headsail with a high cut clew; aka, the tack is an acute angle, leaving the clew a good ways off the deck, usually for better visibility.

No. 1 Jib: Primary, working jib.
No. 2 Jib: smaller sail for higher wind.

A lapper is a jib that over"laps" the mast, but is still a full weight material (IE, 7 or 8 oz for our boats).

A genoa is a sail that generally overlaps the mast, but is made from a slightly lighter material for improved shape in light winds (IE, 5 or 6 oz dacron). They are usually fairly flat and ARE hanked on (or on a roller system).

A reacher is basically a genoa, but with a higher cut clew, but not to the extreme of a yankee. They are light (4 or 5 oz for us), and have a bit more of a belly to them and are usually hanked on.

A drifter is basically an asymetrical spinnaker. A free flown (or with a hank or two), nylon sail that can reach a bit, but is great from running off the wind and poling out. Great for when the other sails (above) would be left slatting in the force 1 breeze.

There is a lot of technical brewha that could be brought up, but that's basically it.

Fair leads from Lunenberg,
Aaron N.

Stephen and Lu Ann Yoder

Thanks, Aaron. That's a pretty clear explanation.

S/V Siempre Sabado (W28 #20)
Silverton, OR

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