Sailing Only With Mainsail Or Jib, When To Sail With Each

When learning to sail, it is good to understand when it is best to sail with just the mainsail and under what circumstances you can use only the jib sail.

As the name implies, the mainsail is the sail that most people think of as the boat’s most significant and crucial sail; it is the sail near the stern or back of the sailboat. The jib is the sail at the front of the boat. You can easily sail with just the mainsail, and there may be reasons why it may be better for you to do so. Sailing with only the jib sail is more tricky as the jib sail alone will only work with a downwind.

Mainsail and Jib Explained

If you are starting to learn to sail, it can be not very clear to understand when it is best to sail with just the mainsail or jib and when to sail with both. We need to know the difference between the mainsail and jib sail to understand this.

What Is The Mainsail?

The mainsail is the sail located the furthest back on the sailboat or the sail that is back towards the stern of the boat. It is attached to the boom. The boom is the horizontal rod that is attached to the mast.

The mainsail is usually the largest sail that most people think about when sailing a sailboat. The mainsail will swing on the boom to tack or jive with the boat when the sailboat turns.

The mainsail is usually the sail that is raised first as it is an essential sail on a sailboat. The mainsail is your powerhouse, and your boat will get most of its momentum from the mainsail.

What Is the Jib Sail?

The jib sail is a triangular sail that sits at the head of the foremast of a sailing vessel. It is a sail tacked to the boat’s bow and is considered a headsail or a sail at the front of the boat.

Unlike the mainsail, the job has no sail cover and no sail ties so that it can catch all kinds of wind on the downwind leg of your sailing. Because of this, it is hard to sail with just the jib sail with a downwind.

There are two main types of headsails or sails at the front of the boat, mainly spinnakers and jib sails. Though they are both at the front of the boat, they are not the same sail.

Can You Sail With Just The Mainsail Alone?

Any sailboat can be sailed with just the mainsail. A few things will happen when you decide to cut the jib sail and sail with the mainsail alone.

  • Speed Will Be Reduced – If you are sailing and the winds are excessively high and want to reduce the speed so that your boat is easier to handle, you can cut the jib sail and sail with only the mainsail.
  • Can Increase Visibility – There may be times when you can not see at the front of the boat, so you may need to cut the jib sail to have better visibility.
  • Want To Casually Sail – If you are going on a casual sail and want to coast along, you can cut the jib sail and use the mainsail to sail so your speed is reduced.
  • Sailing Solo – If you are sailing solo and want to handle the boat better, you can decide to sail with just the mainsail. Sailing with the mainsail will make the boat much easier for you to handle. It is usually easier to steer the boat if you do not need to worry about trying to raise the jib sail.
  • Monohull Sailboat – If you are sailing a monohull sailboat, where the boat is made to rise with the wind, the boat is easier to handle with just the mainsail. If you are not experienced in sailing this kind of boat, too much wind can cause the sailboat to keel over, so you may want to have just the mainsail up to limit the tilting of the boat.
  • Choppy Waves – If the waves are incredibly choppy, you may find it easier to sail with just the mainsail.
  • Impeding Storm – If you are out on the water and suddenly see that a storm is arising, you may want to cut the Jib sail to slow down and sail safely to shore or the dock with just the mainsail.

Can You Sail With Just the Jib Sail?

The jib sail is not the same as the mainsail, so it cannot do the same things that the mainsail can. You can sail alone with the jib sail but only downwind and not upwind. If you try to sail with the jib sail alone in the upwind, it will cause you to go around in circles.

Here are a few things to remember about sailing alone with the jib and not the mainsail:

  • The Wind – being able to sail with only the jib will depend significantly on the wind direction and where and how the wind is going. It is not the same as the mainsail that can be used alone with all kinds of wind directions.
  • Downwind Is Needed – To sail alone with only the jib, you need a downwind. The direction or the lack of wind direction can limit how you can sail with just the jib sail.
  • Useless In Upwind – The jib sail alone is useless in the upwind. In the upwind, you would also need to have the mainsail up for the jib sail to work.

If you want to sail with just one sail, you should sail with just the mainsail and not just the jib sail. Especially if you are a beginning sailor, just sailing with the mainsail will be easier for you to handle than trying to sail alone with the jib.

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By clicking here, you can discover What Is The Function Of A Sailboat Keel?

How Much Wind Is Too Much For A Beginner Sailor?

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By clicking here, you can discover How Much Wind Is Too Much For A Beginner Sailor?

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If you are going to take up sailing, then the first thing you must do is get on a boat and find out if sailing is suitable. The best sailors can handle their boats in all kinds and types of weather. Find a class that you can join and get certified. Sailing requires knowledge and skill. Find yourself a sailing community that you can be part of.

By clicking here, you can discover No Experience Sailing, 6 Tips To Get Started.

Anita L Hummel

Hi, I live in Hanoi, Vietnam but spend time traveling the region. I love to share with you things I see and learn through my travels.

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Sailing Only With Mainsail  Or Jib, When To Sail With Each