Re: short sails

Bill Combs (
Tue, 11 May 1999 23:49:38 -0500

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
West Wight Potter Website at URL
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
> That sounds like a bunch of hooey to me! Stretching a sail is the last
> thing you would want to do to it!!!! He must have been pulling your leg or
> there's been some misunderstanding/miscommunication between you and the
> "friendly salesman"

Yeah, Judy, got that right. "Sail stretcher" is a leg-pusher of rare

> As for those short lines at the bottom of your headsails: Sometimes, in
> order to get the correct angle on the jib sheets (the line you use to
> control the fullness of the headsail), folks put a short length of line or
> wire on the bottom of the sail (the "tack"). This changes the horizontal
> angle that the sheet pulls on the sail and, under the correct circumstances,
> improves the shape of the sail when it's full of wind. When a short line is
> added to the top or bottom of the sail, we call that line a "pennant" or
> "pendant". The purpose of the pennant is to improve the angle that the
> sheet pulls on the headsail, not to ensure that it goes all the way to the
> top of the forestay.

I use a pennant on the small jib to move the center of effort
sternward to better balance the sailplan with a reefed main.
Unfortunately, the c-o-e is also moved _up_, which contributes to
heeling in the mighty winds in which one would use such a "storm" jib.
One more case of nothing for free on a sailboat!

Just for the heck of it, I once used that tiny jib with a full main
and found it balanced better without the pennant -- but then that
seems to me an unlikely combination of sails. I, however, am unusually
fond of large headsails, often sailing with the genoa and a
double-reefed [50% area] main, so those of you with a saner approach,
more skill, or fewer sails may want to experiment with pennant length
on the small headsail. Just raising the head to the top of the stay
may not necessarily be the way to go.

All this presupposes, of course, that you have adjustable jib lead
positions -- something I personally believe to be absolutely required.


Bill Combs
WWP 19 #439 (Aug 1987) "Ursa Minor"
Fort Walton Beach FL