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Triple Spreader Mast

  • Thread starter Russf
  • Start date Nov 30, 2011
  • Forums for All Owners
  • Ask All Sailors

I understand that a triple spreader mast requires a great deal more effort and skill to tune than a double spreader and offers no advantages for a 36 foot coastal cruiser. Appreciate some comments on this. Thanks.  



They start to get pretty common on 44' and above race boats depending on the vintage of the design  


Russf said: I understand that a triple spreader mast requires a great deal more effort and skill to tune than a double spreader and offers no advantages for a 36 foot coastal cruiser. Appreciate some comments on this.Thanks. Click to expand

Sandy Stone

Sandy Stone

On many cruiser-racers, multiple spreaders are used to allow a narrower shroud base to adequately support the mast. This in turn allows the jib to be sheeted in closer and hopefully let the boat point higher upwind. That being said, triple spreaders on anything but a racing boat is getting pretty extreme.  

For the amount and type of use a normal coastal cruiser sees I can't see any reason for more than a double spreader rig. If you want very high performance characteristics then that is a different story. In that case you need to know how to maintain that system or it will use up much or your cruising capital. Ray  


Triple spreader rigs are quite uncommon on CRUISING boats with less than a '65ft' (so called ICW) mast. As another poster stated the advantage is 'less weight aloft' (less mast 'stiffness needed) to lessen the 'roll period', to 'pre-bend' as needed for 'high performance' sailing etc. The disadvantage is the high cost and time of maintenance of the wire/terminals that are more prone to fatigue failure. For a high performance boat with a 'bendy rig' (rake and pre-bend - on the fly) tapered carbon fiber masts with less spreaders seem to be a distinct advantage over aluminum with more spreaders ... for even 'higher' cost. I have one on an ILYA Scow boat and I can on-the-fly add about 3+ ft. of fore/aft 'bend' that can flatten the mainsail to look like a 'flat sheet of plywood' ... instead of 'reefing' when going 'upwind'.  

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Navigating the High Seas: A Comprehensive Guide to Sailboat Masts

  • Navigating the High Seas: A Comprehensive Guide to Sailboat Masts

Sailboat masts are the unsung heroes of the sailing world, silently supporting the sails and ensuring a smooth journey across the open waters. Whether you're a seasoned sailor or a novice, understanding the intricacies of sailboat masts is essential for a safe and enjoyable voyage. In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the world of sailboat masts, discussing their types, maintenance, and everything in between.

Types of Sailboat Masts

Sailboat masts come in various configurations, each with its advantages and drawbacks. The two primary types are keel-stepped and deck-stepped masts.

Keel-Stepped Masts

Keel-stepped masts are the most common type, extending through the deck and resting on the boat's keel. They provide excellent stability and are suitable for larger sailboats. However, they require careful maintenance to prevent water intrusion into the boat's cabin.

Deck-Stepped Masts

Deck-stepped masts rest on the deck of the boat, making them easier to install and remove. They are commonly found on smaller sailboats and are more forgiving in terms of maintenance. However, they may offer slightly less stability than keel-stepped masts.

Components of a Sailboat Mast

To understand mast maintenance better, it's essential to know the various components of a sailboat mast. The key parts include the masthead, spreaders, shrouds, and halyard sheaves.

The masthead is the topmost section of the mast, where the halyards are attached to raise and lower the sails. It also often houses instruments such as wind indicators and lights.

Spreaders and Shrouds

Spreaders are horizontal supports attached to the mast to help maintain the proper angle of the shrouds (cables or rods that provide lateral support to the mast). Properly adjusted spreaders and shrouds are crucial for mast stability and sail performance.

Mast Materials: Choosing the Right One

Sailboat masts are typically constructed from three primary materials: aluminum, wood, and carbon fiber. Each material has its unique characteristics and is suited to different sailing preferences.

Aluminum Masts

Aluminum masts are lightweight, durable, and relatively easy to maintain. They are commonly used in modern sailboats due to their cost-effectiveness and longevity.

Wooden Masts

Wooden masts, while classic and beautiful, require more maintenance than other materials. They are best suited for traditional or vintage sailboats, where aesthetics outweigh convenience.

Carbon Fiber Masts

Carbon fiber masts are the pinnacle of mast technology. They are incredibly lightweight and strong, enhancing a sailboat's performance. However, they come at a premium price.

Mast Maintenance

Proper mast maintenance is essential for safety and longevity. Regular cleaning, inspection, and addressing minor issues promptly can prevent costly repairs down the line.

Cleaning and Inspection

Regularly clean your mast to remove salt, dirt, and grime. Inspect it for signs of corrosion, wear, or damage, paying close attention to the masthead, spreaders, and shrouds.

Common Repairs and Their Costs

Common mast repairs include fixing corroded areas, replacing damaged spreaders, or repairing shrouds. The cost of repairs can vary widely, depending on the extent of the damage and the materials used.

Extending the Lifespan of Your Mast

Taking steps to prevent damage is essential. Avoid over-tightening halyards, protect your mast from UV radiation, and keep an eye on corrosion-prone areas.

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Caucasian Male working up the mast of a sailing yacht, with rope and bosun's chair on a sunny day with blue sky

Stepping and Unstepping a Mast

Stepping and unstepping a mast is a crucial skill for any sailboat owner. This process involves removing or installing the mast on your boat. Here's a step-by-step guide for safe mast handling.

Step-by-Step Guide for Safe Mast Handling

  • Gather the necessary tools and equipment.
  • Disconnect all electrical and rigging connections.
  • Use a crane or mast-stepping system to safely lower or raise the mast.
  • Secure the mast in its proper place.
  • Reconnect all electrical and rigging connections.

When and Why to Unstep a Mast

You may need to unstep your mast for various reasons, such as transporting your sailboat or performing extensive maintenance. It's crucial to follow the manufacturer's recommendations and ensure a safe unstepping process.

Sailboat Mast Boot: Protecting Your Mast

A mast boot is a simple yet effective way to protect your mast from water intrusion and damage caused by the elements. Here's what you need to know.

The Purpose of a Mast Boot

A mast boot is a flexible material that wraps around the mast at the deck level. It prevents water from entering the cabin through the mast opening, keeping your boat dry and comfortable.

Installing and Maintaining a Mast Boot

Installing a mast boot is a straightforward DIY task. Regularly inspect and replace it if you notice any signs of wear or damage.

Replacing a Sailboat Mast

Despite your best efforts in maintenance, there may come a time when you need to replace your sailboat mast. Here's what you should consider.

Signs That Your Mast Needs Replacement

Common signs include severe corrosion, structural damage, or fatigue cracks. If your mast is beyond repair, it's essential to invest in a replacement promptly.

The Cost of Mast Replacement

The cost of mast replacement can vary significantly depending on the type of mast, materials, and additional rigging needed. It's advisable to obtain multiple quotes from reputable marine professionals.

Yacht Masts: Sailing in Style

For those looking to take their sailing experience to the next level, upgrading to a yacht mast can be a game-changer.

Differences Between Sailboat and Yacht Masts

Yacht masts are typically taller and offer enhanced sail performance. They are often equipped with advanced rigging systems and technology for a more luxurious sailing experience.

Upgrading to a Yacht Mast

Consult with a marine professional to determine if upgrading to a yacht mast is feasible for your sailboat. It can be a significant investment but can transform your sailing adventures.

Sailboat Mast Steps: Climbing to the Top

Mast steps are handy additions to your mast, allowing easier access to perform maintenance or enjoy panoramic views. Here's how to use them safely.

Using Mast Steps Safely

Always use proper safety equipment when climbing mast steps. Make sure they are securely attached to the mast and regularly inspect them for wear or damage.

The Advantages of Mast Steps

Mast steps provide convenience and accessibility, making sailboat maintenance tasks more manageable. They also offer an elevated vantage point for breathtaking views while at anchor.

Mast Maintenance Tips for Beginners

If you're new to sailboat ownership, these mast maintenance tips will help you get started on the right foot.

Essential Care for First-Time Sailboat Owners

  • Establish a regular maintenance schedule.
  • Seek advice from experienced sailors.
  • Invest in quality cleaning and maintenance products.

Preventing Common Mistakes

Avoid common pitfalls, such as neglecting inspections or using harsh cleaning agents that can damage your mast's finish.

Sailing with a Mast in Top Condition

A well-maintained mast contributes to a safer and more enjoyable sailing experience. It enhances your boat's performance and ensures you can rely on it in various weather conditions.

How a Well-Maintained Mast Improves Performance

A properly maintained mast helps maintain sail shape, reducing drag and improving speed. It also ensures that your rigging remains strong and secure.

Safety Considerations

Never compromise on safety. Regularly inspect your mast, rigging, and all associated components to prevent accidents while at sea.

Sailboat masts are the backbone of any sailing adventure, and understanding their intricacies is crucial for a successful voyage. From choosing the right mast material to proper maintenance and upgrading options, this guide has covered it all. By following these guidelines, you can sail the high seas with confidence, knowing that your mast is in top condition.

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Sailboat Mast: Everything You Need To Know

Anyone who loves sails and boating needs to know their sailing boat from the inside out. If you are new to the sport, then you are probably wondering about things like a sailboat mast and everything around it.

In this article, we have everything you need to know about a sailboat mast, like what it is, its different types, as well as the material it is made of.

All you have to do is keep reading below to find it all out!

What Is A Sailboat Mast?

A sailboat mast is a tall pole that is attached to the deck. It helps secure the sail’s length to the boat and upholds the sail’s structure.

A sailboat mast is the most defining characteristic of a sailboat, helping keep the sail in place. What’s amazing about it is that it can even be taller than the vessel’s length!

Although conventional sailboats use wood, the majority of the newer sailboat masts are constructed of aluminum. The kind of sailboat mast a vessel has depends on the kind of sail plan supported.

What Are The Parts Of A Sailboat Mast?

The sailing mast is essentially a pole that cannot operate effectively without certain critical components.

Moving from the deck to the rest of the sailboat, we can first see the mast boot, which prevents the water from draining down the mast and flooding the cabin.

The stays are the long cords hooked up on each side of the mast, and they hold the mast up off the ground under massive force.

A gooseneck pipe fitting joins the boom to the mast. The sail is raised and lowered using halyard lines that go to the mast’s highest point.

Types Of Sailboat Masts

Rigs with one mast.

Many people that are not aware of the modern sailboat design envision single-mast sailboats.

The reason why this type of sailboat is so widely known is that these masts are low-cost to construct and fairly simple to operate alone.

Sloops, cutters, and catboats are among the most popular rigs with only one mast.

Sloop Masts

Nowadays, sloop rig vessels are the most popular type of sailing boat. Sloops typically have only one mast positioned somewhere on the front third or the middle of the deck, even though some boat models might vary a bit.

A sloop mast is equipped with a big mainsail and a jib sail (see also ‘ Why Are Sails Made In A Triangular Shape? ‘). A Bermuda-rigged sloop has only one towering mast and a triangle-shaped sail. Other not-so-popular gaff-rigged sloops have a significantly smaller mast and bigger 4-point mainsails.

Catboat Masts

Catboats are distinctive New England boats that have a forward-mounted standard mast and a long boom. A catboat, unlike a sloop-rigged boat, is only equipped with one sail.

It is also typically mounted (more or less) right in front of the boat, and it is commonly short and relatively thick.

Catboats are frequently gaff-rigged. In a single-mast design, gaff-rigged sail designs (see also ‘ The Definition And History Of The Lateen (Triangular) Sail ‘) succeed in making the most out of short masts and are relatively simple to maneuver.

The mast of gaff-rigged catboats is shorter than that of a Bermuda-rigged boat of comparable size, but it is typically taller than that of comparable gaff-rigged crafts.

Cutter Mast

A cutter-rigged sailboat has only one towering mast and several headsails, which is why it can be mistaken for sloops when seen from afar.

However, because cutters use numerous headsails rather than one standard jib (see also ‘ Everything You Need To Know About Sailboat Jibs ‘), their masts are typically taller than those of comparable-sized sloops.

In several places, a gaff-rigged cutter is far more usual than a gaff-rigged sloop. Even at times when its sails are folded, a cutter can be distinguished from a sloop.

This is due to the fact that cutters frequently have a protracted bowsprit and two front stays; the forestay and the jib stay.

Rigs With Multiple Masts

Multi-mast sailboats (see also ‘ Small Sailboats: What Are They Called? ‘) are not as popular as single-mast sailboats. That is why the design and structure of a multi-mast boat usually make it classier and more navigable.

A multi-mast boat provides more than simply great looks. It also provides speed and efficient control for skilled seamen.

Most of these boats have two masts, which seem to be frequently smaller than the masts on comparable-sized single-mast crafts. Yawl, ketch, as well as schooner rigs, are among the most popular types.

Yawls are sturdy multi-mast boats whose length ranges from 20 to more than 50 ft. A yawl has a lengthy forward main mast and a small mizzen mast at the back of the vessel. This type is also frequently gaff-rigged and was previously used as a utility boat.

A yawl-rigged boat can also self-steer by using the mizzen mast and sail. The yawl can be distinguished from many other double-mast vessels by its short mizzen mast, which is frequently half the size of the main mast.

Furthermore, the mizzen mast is located toward the back of the rudder post.

Ketch Masts

Ketch masts can be mistaken for yawls with a quick look. However, ketch masts are equipped with two masts of comparable size and a significantly bigger mizzen mast. A ketch boat’s mizzen mast is located at the front of the rudder post.

Ketch-rigged vessels are frequently gaff-rigged, with topsails on each one of their masts. Triangle-shaped sailplanes on some ketch-rigged vessels prevent the necessity for a topsail.

Ketch masts, much like the yawl ones, have a headsail, a mainsail, and a mizzen sail that are similar in size to the mainsail. Finally, a ketch-rigged vessel can sail while handling more than one rear sail.

Schooner Masts

Schooners are some of the most beautiful multi-mast sailboats. They are clearly more similar to ketches than yawls. However, if you closely look at a schooner, you will see that it will feature a smaller foremast and a longer (or nearly equal-sized) mast behind it.

Schooner masts are large and heavy, but they are generally shorter than single-mast vessels of comparable size.

This is due to the fact that double-masted vessels share the sail plan over 2 masts and do not require the additional length to compensate for the reduced sail space.

Finally, they are typically gaff-rigged, with topsails and topmasts that expand the mast’s length.

Masts Of Tall Ships

Tall ships are those traditional large cruising ships that ruled the seas well before age of steam. Renowned ships with this massive and intricate rig setup include the U.S.S Constitution as well as the H.M.S. Victory.

Tall ships have 3 or more massive masts that are frequently constructed using big tree trunks. Tall ships with 5 or more masts are quite common too.

Tall ships typically are as long as 100 feet or more, since the size and sophistication of these square-rigged vessels render them only useful at scale.

Tall ships have main masts, foremasts, mizzen masts, and gaff-rigged jigger masts at the back of their mizzen masts.

Sailboat Mast Everything You Need To Know (1)

Mast Materials For Sailboats

The masts of sailboats (see also ‘ Two-Mast Sailboat Types ‘) are typically constructed of aluminum or other specific types of wood. Until the 1950s, almost all sailboat masts were constructed of wood.

That began changing around the time that fiberglass vessels rose to fame, with aluminum being now the most used mast material.

Aluminum Masts For Sailboats

Aluminum has become the most popular modern mast material. Aluminum masts are lighter in weight, hollow, and simple to produce. Such reasonably priced masts efficiently withstand seawater. These masts are also heavy for their size.

If there is one drawback to this type of mast that would be galvanic corrosion, which happens extremely quickly once seawater is in contact with aluminum and another metal, like steel and copper.

So, in types like the Bermuda-rigged sloop which are frequently made with aluminum, that is an issue.

Wooden Masts For Sailboats

The typical material for sailboat masts is wood, which is still employed for many specially designed boats nowadays.

Wood masts are big and bulky, yet very sturdy, and proper maintenance can guarantee their lengthy (over 100 years!) lifespan. They are also prevalent on gaff-rigged vessels because wood is best suited for short masts.

The Fir family provides the most popular mast wood. Although Douglas Fir is widely used, regional models (such as British, Columbian, and Yellow Fir) are also ideal.

Several sailboats, especially the tall ships, have masts made of pine and sometimes redwood. Other cedar species like the Port Orford or the Oregon cedar, can also be used for masts and spars.

Carbon Fiber Masts For Sailboats

Carbon fiber masts are a relatively new addition to the boatbuilding industry, and they have a few perks over the wood and aluminum ones.

First of all, carbon fiber is both strong and light, making it perfect for sailboats designed for races and which typically have tall masts. The best top-quality carbon fiber masts in the business are used by ships competing in America’s Cup races.

Maintenance Of Masts

It is critical to maintaining the sailboat masts and all of their associated hardware. Masts’ stays, lines, and halyards must be regularly checked, modified, and replaced on a regular basis. Masts made of wood must be lacquered and inspected for rot.

Masts made of aluminum do not typically require regular checks and maintenance, but any indications of a corrosive environment should be acted upon right away.

Build a clear maintenance schedule with your regional boat repairman or boating specialist. Keep in mind that preventative maintenance is always less expensive and simpler than repair work.

Choosing The Right Mast

For those who own a production boat, the options will be determined by the model and manufacturer.

The important factors to keep in mind for one-off boats without a designer sail plan are:

  • the masts step’s features
  • the length and displacement of the boat
  • the addition of backstays and running backstays
  • the quantity and placement of chainplates

If the mast is on a step on deck rather than on the structural beam, an image of the step may be useful to the mast maker.

For those who frequently take part in races, a carbon mast will save them from the extra weight and enhance their performance.

The Bottom Line

We hope that this article was helpful in learning more about a sailboat mast, the different types of mast you can see on vessels, as well as the materials they are made of, and their maintenance requirements.

Masts play a vital role in holding the boats in place, allowing people to keep on sailing to their dream destination, and they are also an eye-catching element of sailboats thanks to their vertical form and their length that often surpasses that of the sailboat itself.

Depending on the use of the boat, you will get a different type of mast, and the material it will be made of, its size, height, and weight, will guarantee the best sailing experience!

Related Posts:

Everything You Need To Know About Sailboat Jibs

triple mast sailboat

Sailing Mast: A Comprehensive Guide to Understanding and Choosing the Perfect Mast

by Emma Sullivan | Aug 3, 2023 | Sailboat Maintenance

triple mast sailboat

Short answer: Sailing Mast

A sailing mast is a tall vertical spar, typically made of wood or metal, which supports the sails on a sailing vessel. It helps harness wind power to propel the vessel forward by providing a framework for hoisting and controlling sails. Masts vary in size and design depending on the type of boat or ship they are used on.

How to Choose the Perfect Sailing Mast for Your Boat

When it comes to sailing, the mast is arguably one of the most crucial components on your boat . It plays a significant role in determining your boat’s overall performance and handling characteristics on the water . Therefore, choosing the perfect sailing mast is essential for any sailor looking to optimize their sailing experience. In this blog post, we will guide you through some key factors to consider when selecting the ideal mast for your boat.

1. Rig Type: The first step in choosing the perfect sailing mast is to understand your rig type. There are various rig types available, such as sloop rig, cutter rig, ketch rig, and more. Each rig type requires a specific mast configuration and design to achieve optimal performance. For instance, a sloop rig typically requires a single mast with one or two sets of spreaders, while a cutter rig demands multiple headsails and additional support from the mast. Understanding your rig type will help you narrow down suitable options for masts.

2. Material: Mast materials come in various options such as aluminum, carbon fiber, wood, or a combination of these materials. The material you choose can greatly influence your boat ‘s performance and durability. Aluminum masts are known for their strength and affordability but may be heavier compared to carbon fiber counterparts that offer enhanced stiffness and weight reduction benefits at a higher cost. Wood masts provide an elegant classic look but require extra maintenance compared to other modern materials.

3. Length and Height: Determining the appropriate length and height of your sailing mast is crucial for achieving good sail balance and proper sail area distribution. A taller mast allows for larger sails and increased speed potential but may become challenging to handle in high winds or limited bridge clearance situations. On the other hand, shorter masts provide better maneuverability but might compromise speed capabilities if not properly compensated by sail adjustments.

4. Bend Characteristics: Understanding bend characteristics is essential when selecting a sailing mast. The amount of bend in the mast significantly affects the sail ‘s shape and performance. Masts with more bend can offer a better power delivery and less heeling force, making them suitable for cruising or heavy wind conditions. Masts with less bend are ideal for racers who require maximum control and efficiency in lighter winds .

5. Budget Considerations: While everyone desires the best quality, it is important to consider your budget when choosing a sailing mast. Evaluating your financial capacity will help you determine if you can afford high-end materials like carbon fiber or if you need to opt for alternatives such as aluminum or wood. Remember that durability and performance may vary with different price ranges, so strike a balance between affordability and quality that suits your needs.

6. Seek Expert Advice: Choosing the perfect sailing mast can be overwhelming due to the multitude of options available on the market. If you’re uncertain about any aspect or need professional guidance, don’t hesitate to consult experts in sailboat rigging or experienced sailors within your community. Their knowledge and expertise can provide valuable insights specific to your boat’s characteristics and intended use.

In conclusion, selecting the perfect sailing mast involves careful consideration of various factors such as rig type, materials, length and height, bend characteristics, budget constraints, and seeking expert advice when in doubt. By taking these aspects into account during your decision-making process, you’ll be well on your way to optimizing your boat’s performance and enhancing your overall sailing experience on the water!

Step-by-Step Guide: Installing a Sailing Mast on Your Sailboat

So, you’ve finally decided to take the plunge and install a new sailing mast on your beloved sailboat. Congratulations! Whether you’re a seasoned sailor or just starting out, installing a new mast can be an exciting and fulfilling experience. However, it can also feel like quite the daunting task if you’re not sure where to begin. But fear not, because we’re here to walk you through the process step by step.

Before diving into the nitty-gritty details, there are a few things to keep in mind. Firstly, make sure to gather all the necessary tools and equipment prior to starting this project. You’ll need items such as a tape measure, wrenches, screws, and possibly some extra hands to assist during certain steps. Additionally, ensure that your new mast is an appropriate fit for your sailboat – double-checking compatibility is crucial.

Now that we have our tools at hand and have confirmed our sailboat-mast compatibility let’s get started!

1. Preparation – Begin by thoroughly inspecting your sailboat’s existing mast setup (if applicable) or identifying the ideal location for installation if it’s a completely new addition. Take measurements of relevant areas such as height and width requirements while considering any potential obstructions that might impede proper functionality.

2. Removal (if necessary) – If you’re replacing an existing mast, securely stow away sails and rigging before carefully removing the old mast using appropriate safety measures (remember: safety first!). Ensure that any electrical connections or wiring are disconnected properly.

3. Assembling the New Mast – Unpack your brand-new shiny mast from its packaging ensuring that all parts are included and nothing is damaged during transportation. Follow manufacturer instructions for assembling various sections while taking care not to overtighten fasteners or strip threads.

4. Securing the Base – With assistance (if needed), carefully lift the mast into position on your sailboat . Align it correctly with base fittings or attachment points and securely fasten it using appropriate boat-specific hardware. Verify that all connections are tightened adequately, but be cautious not to overtighten.

5. Rigging Connections – It’s time to connect the rigging components to your newly installed mast . Begin by attaching shrouds and stays, carefully following your sailboat’s specific rigging plan to ensure proper placement and tensioning. Use turnbuckles, clevis pins, or other suitable connectors as necessary.

6. Wiring Setup – If you have electrical systems onboard, now is the perfect moment to reconnect them (if disconnected during removal). Ensure that all wires are properly routed and connected according to their respective devices or systems while double-checking for any worn-out insulation or sheathing.

7. Finishing Touches – Double-check each connection point for security and stability before moving on to adding finishing touches like spreaders, lighting fixtures (if applicable), wind indicators, antennas, or anything else you wish to incorporate onto your sailing mast.

8. Sea Trial – Once everything is properly assembled and secured, take your sailboat out for a sea trial in calm waters initially. Make adjustments as necessary along the way – inspect for potential issues such as excessive flexing or strain on any component.

9. Enjoyment! – Now that you’ve successfully installed a new sailing mast on your sailboat, give yourself a pat on the back – bravo! Take a moment to admire your handiwork before setting sail into uncharted waters with confidence and newfound excitement!

Installing a sailing mast may seem like an intimidating task at first glance, but armed with patience, attention to detail, and our step-by-step guide above, you’ll find yourself breezing through the process (pun intended) in no time at all! So don’t hesitate—get started on transforming your sailboat and get ready for endless hours of adventure on the open seas .

FAQs about Sailing Masts: Everything You Need to Know

Are you a sailing enthusiast or someone looking to learn more about the fascinating world of sailing masts? Look no further! In this comprehensive blog post, we will answer all your burning questions regarding these essential components of any sailboat. So, sit back, relax, and embark on an enlightening journey with us as we dive into the world of sailing masts!

1. What is a sailing mast?

Let’s start with the basics. A sailing mast is a tall vertical spar that forms an integral part of a sailboat’s rigging system. It supports and holds up the sails, enabling them to catch the wind and propel the vessel forward. Masts can vary in size and material depending on the boat’s type and purpose .

2. What materials are commonly used in sailing mast construction?

Sailing masts can be crafted from several materials, each offering its own unique advantages. Traditional wooden masts lend an air of elegance to classic boats but require careful maintenance . Aluminum masts are lighter, affordable, and easier to maintain but may lack the aesthetic appeal for some sailors. Carbon fiber masts are gaining popularity due to their strength-to-weight ratio, providing enhanced performance for competitive racing.

3. How do I choose the right mast for my boat?

Selecting an appropriate mast requires careful consideration of various factors such as boat size, weight distribution, sailing conditions, and personal preferences. Consulting with boat manufacturers or experienced sailors is often recommended to ensure compatibility and optimal performance.

4. Can I modify or customize my sailing mast?

Absolutely! Many modern sailboat owners love to personalize their vessels by adding custom features to their masts. From radar mounts and wind instruments to additional halyard sheaves or even integrated lighting systems – the possibilities are endless! Just be sure any modifications you make maintain structural integrity and do not compromise safety.

5. How do I properly maintain my sailing mast?

Maintaining your mast is crucial for its longevity and performance. Regular inspections for signs of wear and tear, such as cracks or corrosion, are essential. Cleaning the mast with mild soap and water, followed by occasional waxing, helps protect it from UV damage. Additionally, competent rigging checks and tuning should be performed periodically to ensure everything is in proper working order.

6. Can I repair a damaged sailing mast?

Yes, it is often possible to restore a damaged mast depending on the severity of the issue. Minor damages like small cracks or dents can be repaired using specialized adhesives or fillers made for your specific mast material. However, more extensive damage may necessitate seeking professional assistance or even replacing the entire mast.

7. Are there any safety measures I should take when dealing with sailing masts ?

While sailing masts are generally safe components of a boat’s rigging system, caution must be exercised during maintenance or modification activities. Using proper safety equipment like harnesses or securing lines and adhering to industry best practices will help prevent accidents or injuries.

8. Are there any alternatives to traditional sailing masts?

Innovations in technology have brought forth new possibilities in sail propulsion systems. Some modern boats employ novel concepts like wing sails or rotating masts that offer different advantages over traditional rigs. These alternative designs aim to maximize aerodynamic efficiency and enhance speed while requiring less physical effort from the crew.

Now armed with comprehensive knowledge about sailing masts, you’re ready to set sail on your next adventure ! Whether you’re an experienced sailor looking to upgrade your rigging or a curious landlubber dreaming of taking up sailing someday, understanding the ins and outs of sailing masts opens up a whole new world of excitement and possibilities!

Understanding the Different Types of Sailing Masts

When it comes to sailing, mastering the nuances of different types of sailing masts is essential for any sailor looking to navigate the waters with finesse. A sailing mast, simply put, is a vertical pole or spar that supports sails and provides stability to a boat or ship. However, not all masts are created equal; each has its unique characteristics that determine how a vessel performs under various weather conditions . In this blog post, we will delve deeper into the various types of sailing masts, understanding their features and advantages.

1. The Classic Mast: The classic mast is perhaps the most common type found on sailboats worldwide. Made from sturdy materials such as wood or aluminum, it offers excellent durability and reliability on the open seas . Designed with simplicity in mind, this type of mast suits sailors who prefer traditional aesthetics paired with dependable performance. It provides sufficient lift for the sails without compromising maneuverability, making it an ideal choice for recreational sailboats.

2. The Fractional Mast: The fractional mast differs from its classic counterpart by positioning a larger proportion of its length below the highest point of attachment for sails (the halyard). This design promotes easier handling and greater control over sail shape adjustments while sailing close to the wind – enabling sailors to navigate sharp turns swiftly. Its flexibility allows sailors to adapt quickly in shifting weather conditions without sacrificing speed or stability.

3. The Bermudian Mast: Originating from Bermuda during their heyday as world-renowned seafarers, this mast design gained popularity due to its exceptional performance capabilities in various wind conditions. Constructed from lightweight yet robust materials like carbon fiber or composite blends, Bermudian masts enhance both agility and speed on deck. Their aerodynamic shape reduces drag and enables better acceleration across tranquil waters or even stormy seas.

4. The Wing Sail Mast: If you’ve ever marveled at boats gliding effortlessly across the water , seemingly defying gravity, you were most likely witnessing a wing sail mast in action. Developed in recent years, this cutting-edge mast design features rigid wings that harness wind forces more effectively by minimizing turbulent airflow around the sails. By working on principles similar to an aircraft’s wing, wing sail masts allow vessels to achieve higher speeds with remarkable stability. While predominantly used in competitive sailing due to their complexity and costs, they bring a new dimension of excitement to the sport.

5. The Junk Rig Mast: Drawing inspiration from ancient Chinese sailing techniques, the junk rig mast is characterized by its unique arrangement of multiple sails or “battens” along a flexible mast. This unconventional setup enhances maneuverability and efficiency, allowing sailors to swiftly change directions by manipulating individual sails . Perfect for cruising enthusiasts looking for a hassle-free experience without excessive trimming or complicated systems, junk rig masts offer exceptional ease of use and reliability.

In conclusion, understanding the different types of sailing masts is crucial for both novice and seasoned sailors alike. Whether you’re looking for reliability, speed, maneuverability, or simplicity, there’s a mast design perfectly suited to your preferences and goals on the water. By familiarizing yourself with these variations – from classic masts to cutting-edge wing sail designs – you’ll be better equipped to make informed choices when it comes to selecting the right mast for your vessel’s needs. So go ahead and set sail towards new adventures armed with knowledge about these fascinating structures that shape your sailing experience!

Tips and Tricks for Maintaining and Repairing Your Sailing Mast

Welcome to our blog section, where we are dedicated to providing you with detailed professional tips and tricks for maintaining and repairing your sailing mast. Whether you’re a seasoned sailor or just starting out, it’s crucial to keep your mast in top condition for optimal performance on the water. So, buckle up and get ready to learn some clever ways to care for this essential part of your sailboat.

1. Inspect Regularly: Starting with the basics, regular inspection is crucial for identifying any potential issues before they become major problems. Take the time to carefully examine the entire mast, paying close attention to fittings, sheaves, rivets, welds, and other hardware. Look out for signs of damage like cracks, corrosion, or loose connections.

2. Keep it Clean: Maintaining a clean sailing mast not only gives your boat an appealing aesthetic but also enhances its functionality. Before hitting the water or during routine maintenance days, gently wash down the mast using mild soap and water. This will remove salt residue and prevent the buildup of dirt or grime that can cause long-term damage.

3. Lubricate Properly: Proper lubrication plays a significant role in keeping your sailing mast in excellent shape. Apply appropriate marine-grade lubricants to pulleys, fittings, tracks, and any moving parts regularly. This reduces friction, extends their lifespan while ensuring smooth operation on every voyage .

4. Protect Against UV Rays: Extended exposure to sunlight can degrade the integrity of your sailing mast over time. To prevent UV damage*, consider installing UV resistant covers on vulnerable areas such as spreader ends or using preventative products designed specifically for this purpose.

5. Preserve Through Winter Storage: When winterizing your sailboat for prolonged storage periods**, make sure you take special care of the mast too! Protect it from extreme temperature changes by storing it horizontally rather than vertically if possible; this will help maintain its structural integrity throughout freezing conditions.

6. Repair with Professional Help: Sometimes, no matter how diligent you are, repairs are inevitable. In such cases, it’s always wise to seek professional assistance from experienced mast repair experts who possess the necessary knowledge and equipment. They can assess the extent of damage accurately and perform repairs or replacements with minimal risk to your mast.

Remember, a well-maintained sailing mast not only enhances your boat’s performance but also ensures your safety on the water. So, be proactive in conducting regular inspections and adopting good maintenance practices, leaving you with a reliable and sturdy mast that withstands even the toughest sailing conditions.

*Author’s Note: Protecting against UV rays should be an essential part of maintaining any sailboat component exposed to sunlight. **Author’s Caution: Before storing your sailboat for winter, refer to manufacturer guidelines and consult with professionals if necessary

The Importance of Proper Rigging in Relation to Your Sailing Mast

Proper rigging plays a critical role in the performance and safety of your sailing mast. While many sailors focus on choosing the right boat and sails, they often overlook the importance of correctly setting up and maintaining their rigging. In this blog post, we will delve into the key reasons why proper rigging is essential for a successful and enjoyable sailing experience.

Firstly, let’s discuss what rigging actually means. Rigging refers to all the wires, lines, and fittings that support and control your mast and sails . It includes elements such as shrouds, stays, halyards, sheets, and various hardware components. These components work together like a well-choreographed dance to keep your mast upright, control its shape under different wind conditions, and overall enhance your boat ‘s performance.

One of the primary reasons why proper rigging is crucial is related to safety. A poorly rigged mast can lead to disastrous consequences while out at sea. Imagine being in rough weather conditions with an unsecured or weakly tensioned shroud – this could result in an unexpected dismasting or even worse accidents. Regularly inspecting your rigging for signs of wear and tear, corrosion or fatigue becomes imperative to avoid any unfortunate incidents due to equipment failure.

Furthermore, properly tuned rigging significantly contributes to your boat ‘s performance on the water. Fine-tuning the tension of shrouds and stays has a direct impact on how much bend or curve you can put into your mast. Adjusting these tensions allows you to control sail shape more precisely by changing factors such as luff tension or twist. Proper control over these variables means better efficiency in different wind conditions – whether you’re racing competitively or cruising leisurely.

The alignment of your mast also depends heavily on correct rigging setup. A misaligned mast can cause excessive sideways load on certain parts of its structure leading to premature wear on fittings or even chronic bending issues over time. This alignment also affects how well your boat balances, affecting its ability to stay on course and reducing your need to constantly adjust the rudder. Proper rigging ensures that your mast is correctly aligned vertically and horizontally, optimizing its overall performance .

Proper rigging isn’t just about safety and performance but also contributes to the longevity and maintenance of your sailing mast. Constantly overlooked, regular inspections of rigging are vital to identifying any potential issues before they become major problems. Regular lubrication or replacement of worn-out parts can ultimately save you from more costly repairs or replacements in the future.

In conclusion, proper rigging is an essential aspect of sailing that should not be taken lightly. It ensures both safety and optimal performance by supporting your mast, controlling sail shape, aligning the mast correctly, and maintaining its overall health. Staying diligent with routine inspections will help avoid any unexpected incidents while maintaining a well-maintained rig for years to come. So, pay close attention when it comes to rigging – it’s a small detail that makes a significant difference in your sailing experience!

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The Ultimate Guide to Sail Types and Rigs (with Pictures)

What's that sail for? Generally, I don't know. So I've come up with a system. I'll explain you everything there is to know about sails and rigs in this article.

What are the different types of sails? Most sailboats have one mainsail and one headsail. Typically, the mainsail is a fore-and-aft bermuda rig (triangular shaped). A jib or genoa is used for the headsail. Most sailors use additional sails for different conditions: the spinnaker (a common downwind sail), gennaker, code zero (for upwind use), and stormsail.

Each sail has its own use. Want to go downwind fast? Use a spinnaker. But you can't just raise any sail and go for it. It's important to understand when (and how) to use each sail. Your rigging also impacts what sails you can use.

Cruising yacht with mainsail, headsail, and gennaker

On this page:

Different sail types, the sail plan of a bermuda sloop, mainsail designs, headsail options, specialty sails, complete overview of sail uses, mast configurations and rig types.

This article is part 1 of my series on sails and rig types. Part 2 is all about the different types of rigging. If you want to learn to identify every boat you see quickly, make sure to read it. It really explains the different sail plans and types of rigging clearly.

triple mast sailboat

Guide to Understanding Sail Rig Types (with Pictures)

First I'll give you a quick and dirty overview of sails in this list below. Then, I'll walk you through the details of each sail type, and the sail plan, which is the godfather of sail type selection so to speak.

Click here if you just want to scroll through a bunch of pictures .

Here's a list of different models of sails: (Don't worry if you don't yet understand some of the words, I'll explain all of them in a bit)

  • Jib - triangular staysail
  • Genoa - large jib that overlaps the mainsail
  • Spinnaker - large balloon-shaped downwind sail for light airs
  • Gennaker - crossover between a Genoa and Spinnaker
  • Code Zero or Screecher - upwind spinnaker
  • Drifter or reacher - a large, powerful, hanked on genoa, but made from lightweight fabric
  • Windseeker - tall, narrow, high-clewed, and lightweight jib
  • Trysail - smaller front-and-aft mainsail for heavy weather
  • Storm jib - small jib for heavy weather
I have a big table below that explains the sail types and uses in detail .

I know, I know ... this list is kind of messy, so to understand each sail, let's place them in a system.

The first important distinction between sail types is the placement . The mainsail is placed aft of the mast, which simply means behind. The headsail is in front of the mast.

Generally, we have three sorts of sails on our boat:

  • Mainsail: The large sail behind the mast which is attached to the mast and boom
  • Headsail: The small sail in front of the mast, attached to the mast and forestay (ie. jib or genoa)
  • Specialty sails: Any special utility sails, like spinnakers - large, balloon-shaped sails for downwind use

The second important distinction we need to make is the functionality . Specialty sails (just a name I came up with) each have different functionalities and are used for very specific conditions. So they're not always up, but most sailors carry one or more of these sails.

They are mostly attached in front of the headsail, or used as a headsail replacement.

The specialty sails can be divided into three different categories:

  • downwind sails - like a spinnaker
  • light air or reacher sails - like a code zero
  • storm sails

Cruising yacht with mainsail, headsail, and gennaker

The parts of any sail

Whether large or small, each sail consists roughly of the same elements. For clarity's sake I've took an image of a sail from the world wide webs and added the different part names to it:

Diagram explaining sail parts: head, luff, tack, foot, clew, and leech

  • Head: Top of the sail
  • Tack: Lower front corner of the sail
  • Foot: Bottom of the sail
  • Luff: Forward edge of the sail
  • Leech: Back edge of the sail
  • Clew: Bottom back corner of the sail

So now we speak the same language, let's dive into the real nitty gritty.

Basic sail shapes

Roughly speaking, there are actually just two sail shapes, so that's easy enough. You get to choose from:

  • square rigged sails
  • fore-and-aft rigged sails

I would definitely recommend fore-and-aft rigged sails. Square shaped sails are pretty outdated. The fore-and-aft rig offers unbeatable maneuverability, so that's what most sailing yachts use nowadays.

Green tall ship with green square rigged sails against urban background

Square sails were used on Viking longships and are good at sailing downwind. They run from side to side. However, they're pretty useless upwind.

A fore-and-aft sail runs from the front of the mast to the stern. Fore-and-aft literally means 'in front and behind'. Boats with fore-and-aft rigged sails are better at sailing upwind and maneuvering in general. This type of sail was first used on Arabic boats.

As a beginner sailor I confuse the type of sail with rigging all the time. But I should cut myself some slack, because the rigging and sails on a boat are very closely related. They are all part of the sail plan .

A sail plan is made up of:

  • Mast configuration - refers to the number of masts and where they are placed
  • Sail type - refers to the sail shape and functionality
  • Rig type - refers to the way these sails are set up on your boat

There are dozens of sails and hundreds of possible configurations (or sail plans).

For example, depending on your mast configuration, you can have extra headsails (which then are called staysails).

The shape of the sails depends on the rigging, so they overlap a bit. To keep it simple I'll first go over the different sail types based on the most common rig. I'll go over the other rig types later in the article.

Bermuda Sloop: the most common rig

Most modern small and mid-sized sailboats have a Bermuda sloop configuration . The sloop is one-masted and has two sails, which are front-and-aft rigged. This type of rig is also called a Marconi Rig. The Bermuda rig uses a triangular sail, with just one side of the sail attached to the mast.

The mainsail is in use most of the time. It can be reefed down, making it smaller depending on the wind conditions. It can be reefed down completely, which is more common in heavy weather. (If you didn't know already: reefing is skipper terms for rolling or folding down a sail.)

In very strong winds (above 30 knots), most sailors only use the headsail or switch to a trysail.

triple mast sailboat

The headsail powers your bow, the mainsail powers your stern (rear). By having two sails, you can steer by using only your sails (in theory - it requires experience). In any case, two sails gives you better handling than one, but is still easy to operate.

Let's get to the actual sails. The mainsail is attached behind the mast and to the boom, running to the stern. There are multiple designs, but they actually don't differ that much. So the following list is a bit boring. Feel free to skip it or quickly glance over it.

  • Square Top racing mainsail - has a high performance profile thanks to the square top, optional reef points
  • Racing mainsail - made for speed, optional reef points
  • Cruising mainsail - low-maintenance, easy to use, made to last. Generally have one or multiple reef points.
  • Full-Batten Cruising mainsail - cruising mainsail with better shape control. Eliminates flogging. Full-length battens means the sail is reinforced over the entire length. Generally have one or multiple reef points.
  • High Roach mainsail - crossover between square top racing and cruising mainsail, used mostly on cats and multihulls. Generally have one or multiple reef points.
  • Mast Furling mainsail - sails specially made to roll up inside the mast - very convenient but less control; of sail shape. Have no reef points
  • Boom Furling mainsail - sails specially made to roll up inside the boom. Have no reef points.

The headsail is the front sail in a front-and-aft rig. The sail is fixed on a stay (rope, wire or rod) which runs forward to the deck or bowsprit. It's almost always triangular (Dutch fishermen are known to use rectangular headsail). A triangular headsail is also called a jib .

Headsails can be attached in two ways:

  • using roller furlings - the sail rolls around the headstay
  • hank on - fixed attachment

Types of jibs:

Typically a sloop carries a regular jib as its headsail. It can also use a genoa.

  • A jib is a triangular staysail set in front of the mast. It's the same size as the fore-triangle.
  • A genoa is a large jib that overlaps the mainsail.

What's the purpose of a jib sail? A jib is used to improve handling and to increase sail area on a sailboat. This helps to increase speed. The jib gives control over the bow (front) of the ship, making it easier to maneuver the ship. The mainsail gives control over the stern of the ship. The jib is the headsail (frontsail) on a front-and-aft rig.

The size of the jib is generally indicated by a number - J1, 2, 3, and so on. The number tells us the attachment point. The order of attachment points may differ per sailmaker, so sometimes J1 is the largest jib (on the longest stay) and sometimes it's the smallest (on the shortest stay). Typically the J1 jib is the largest - and the J3 jib the smallest.

Most jibs are roller furling jibs: this means they are attached to a stay and can be reefed down single-handedly. If you have a roller furling you can reef down the jib to all three positions and don't need to carry different sizes.

Sailing yacht using a small jib

Originally called the 'overlapping jib', the leech of the genoa extends aft of the mast. This increases speed in light and moderate winds. A genoa is larger than the total size of the fore-triangle. How large exactly is indicated by a percentage.

  • A number 1 genoa is typically 155% (it used to be 180%)
  • A number 2 genoa is typically 125-140%

Genoas are typically made from 1.5US/oz polyester spinnaker cloth, or very light laminate.

A small sloop using an overlapping genoa

This is where it gets pretty interesting. You can use all kinds of sails to increase speed, handling, and performance for different weather conditions.

Some rules of thumb:

  • Large sails are typically good for downwind use, small sails are good for upwind use.
  • Large sails are good for weak winds (light air), small sails are good for strong winds (storms).

Downwind sails

Thanks to the front-and-aft rig sailboats are easier to maneuver, but they catch less wind as well. Downwind sails are used to offset this by using a large sail surface, pulling a sailboat downwind. They can be hanked on when needed and are typically balloon shaped.

Here are the most common downwind sails:

  • Big gennaker
  • Small gennaker

A free-flying sail that fills up with air, giving it a balloon shape. Spinnakers are generally colorful, which is why they look like kites. This downwind sail has the largest sail area, and it's capable of moving a boat with very light wind. They are amazing to use on trade wind routes, where they can help you make quick progress.

Spinnakers require special rigging. You need a special pole and track on your mast. You attach the sail at three points: in the mast head using a halyard, on a pole, and on a sheet.

The spinnaker is symmetrical, meaning the luff is as long as its leech. It's designed for broad reaching.

Large sailing yacht sailing coastal water using a true spinnaker

Gennaker or cruising spinnaker

The Gennaker is a cross between the genoa and the spinnaker. It has less downwind performance than the spinnaker. It is a bit smaller, making it slower, but also easier to handle - while it remains very capable. The cruising spinnaker is designed for broad reaching.

The gennaker is a smaller, asymmetric spinnaker that's doesn't require a pole or track on the mast. Like the spinnaker, and unlike the genoa, the gennaker is set flying. Asymmetric means its luff is longer than its leech.

You can get big and small gennakers (roughly 75% and 50% the size of a true spinnaker).

Also called ...

  • the cruising spinnaker
  • cruising chute
  • pole-less spinnaker
  • SpinDrifter

... it's all the same sail.

Small sloops using colorful gennakers in grey water

Light air sails

There's a bit of overlap between the downwind sails and light air sails. Downwind sails can be used as light air sails, but not all light air sails can be used downwind.

Here are the most common light air sails:

  • Spinnaker and gennaker

Drifter reacher

Code zero reacher.

A drifter (also called a reacher) is a lightweight, larger genoa for use in light winds. It's roughly 150-170% the size of a genoa. It's made from very lightweight laminated spinnaker fabric (1.5US/oz).

Thanks to the extra sail area the sail offers better downwind performance than a genoa. It's generally made from lightweight nylon. Thanks to it's genoa characteristics the sail is easier to use than a cruising spinnaker.

The code zero reacher is officially a type of spinnaker, but it looks a lot like a large genoa. And that's exactly what it is: a hybrid cross between the genoa and the asymmetrical spinnaker (gennaker). The code zero however is designed for close reaching, making it much flatter than the spinnaker. It's about twice the size of a non-overlapping jib.

Volvo Ocean race ships using code zero and jib J1

A windseeker is a small, free-flying staysail for super light air. It's tall and thin. It's freestanding, so it's not attached to the headstay. The tack attaches to a deck pad-eye. Use your spinnakers' halyard to raise it and tension the luff.

It's made from nylon or polyester spinnaker cloth (0.75 to 1.5US/oz).

It's designed to guide light air onto the lee side of the main sail, ensuring a more even, smooth flow of air.

Stormsails are stronger than regular sails, and are designed to handle winds of over 45 knots. You carry them to spare the mainsail. Sails

A storm jib is a small triangular staysail for use in heavy weather. If you participate in offshore racing you need a mandatory orange storm jib. It's part of ISAF's requirements.

A trysail is a storm replacement for the mainsail. It's small, triangular, and it uses a permanently attached pennant. This allows it to be set above the gooseneck. It's recommended to have a separate track on your mast for it - you don't want to fiddle around when you actually really need it to be raised ... now.

US naval acadamy sloop in marina with bright orange storm trysail and stormjob

Why Use Different Sails At All?

You could just get the largest furling genoa and use it on all positions. So why would you actually use different types of sails?

The main answer to that is efficiency . Some situations require other characteristics.

Having a deeply reefed genoa isn't as efficient as having a small J3. The reef creates too much draft in the sail, which increases heeling. A reefed down mainsail in strong winds also increases heeling. So having dedicated (storm) sails is probably a good thing, especially if you're planning more demanding passages or crossings.

But it's not just strong winds, but also light winds that can cause problems. Heavy sails will just flap around like laundry in very light air. So you need more lightweight fabrics to get you moving.

What Are Sails Made Of?

The most used materials for sails nowadays are:

  • Dacron - woven polyester
  • woven nylon
  • laminated fabrics - increasingly popular

Sails used to be made of linen. As you can imagine, this is terrible material on open seas. Sails were rotting due to UV and saltwater. In the 19th century linen was replaced by cotton.

It was only in the 20th century that sails were made from synthetic fibers, which were much stronger and durable. Up until the 1980s most sails were made from Dacron. Nowadays, laminates using yellow aramids, Black Technora, carbon fiber and Spectra yarns are more and more used.

Laminates are as strong as Dacron, but a lot lighter - which matters with sails weighing up to 100 kg (220 pounds).

By the way: we think that Viking sails were made from wool and leather, which is quite impressive if you ask me.

In this section of the article I give you a quick and dirty summary of different sail plans or rig types which will help you to identify boats quickly. But if you want to really understand it clearly, I really recommend you read part 2 of this series, which is all about different rig types.

You can't simply count the number of masts to identify rig type But you can identify any rig type if you know what to look for. We've created an entire system for recognizing rig types. Let us walk you through it. Read all about sail rig types

As I've said earlier, there are two major rig types: square rigged and fore-and-aft. We can divide the fore-and-aft rigs into three groups:

  • Bermuda rig (we have talked about this one the whole time) - has a three-sided mainsail
  • Gaff rig - has a four-sided mainsail, the head of the mainsail is guided by a gaff
  • Lateen rig - has a three-sided mainsail on a long yard

Diagram of lateen-rigged mast with head yard, gaff-rigged mast with head beam, and bermuda-rigged mast with triangular sail

There are roughly four types of boats:

  • one masted boats - sloop, cutter
  • two masted boats - ketch, schooner, brig
  • three masted - barque
  • fully rigged or ship rigged - tall ship

Everything with four masts is called a (tall) ship. I think it's outside the scope of this article, but I have written a comprehensive guide to rigging. I'll leave the three and four-masted rigs for now. If you want to know more, I encourage you to read part 2 of this series.

One-masted rigs

Boats with one mast can have either one sail, two sails, or three or more sails.

The 3 most common one-masted rigs are:

  • Cat - one mast, one sail
  • Sloop - one mast, two sails
  • Cutter - one mast, three or more sails

1. Gaff Cat

White cat boat with gaff rig on lake and three people in it

2. Gaff Sloop

triple mast sailboat

Two-masted rigs

Two-masted boats can have an extra mast in front or behind the main mast. Behind (aft of) the main mast is called a mizzen mast . In front of the main mast is called a foremast .

The 5 most common two-masted rigs are:

  • Lugger - two masts (mizzen), with lugsail (cross between gaff rig and lateen rig) on both masts
  • Yawl - two masts (mizzen), fore-and-aft rigged on both masts. Main mast much taller than mizzen. Mizzen without mainsail.
  • Ketch - two masts (mizzen), fore-and-aft rigged on both masts. Main mast with only slightly smaller mizzen. Mizzen has mainsail.
  • Schooner - two masts (foremast), generally gaff rig on both masts. Main mast with only slightly smaller foremast. Sometimes build with three masts, up to seven in the age of sail.
  • Brig - two masts (foremast), partially square-rigged. Main mast carries small lateen rigged sail.

Lugger sails behind berth with rocks and small sloops in the foreground

4. Schooner

White schooner with white sails and light wooden masts

5. Brigantine

Replica of brigatine on lake with lots of rigging and brown, green, red, and gold paint

This article is part 1 of a series about sails and rig types If you want to read on and learn to identify any sail plans and rig type, we've found a series of questions that will help you do that quickly. Read all about recognizing rig types

Related Questions

What is the difference between a gennaker & spinnaker? Typically, a gennaker is smaller than a spinnaker. Unlike a spinnaker, a gennaker isn't symmetric. It's asymmetric like a genoa. It is however rigged like a spinnaker; it's not attached to the forestay (like a jib or a genoa). It's a downwind sail, and a cross between the genoa and the spinnaker (hence the name).

What is a Yankee sail? A Yankee sail is a jib with a high-cut clew of about 3' above the boom. A higher-clewed jib is good for reaching and is better in high waves, preventing the waves crash into the jibs foot. Yankee jibs are mostly used on traditional sailboats.

How much does a sail weigh? Sails weigh anywhere between 4.5-155 lbs (2-70 kg). The reason is that weight goes up exponentially with size. Small boats carry smaller sails (100 sq. ft.) made from thinner cloth (3.5 oz). Large racing yachts can carry sails of up to 400 sq. ft., made from heavy fabric (14 oz), totaling at 155 lbs (70 kg).

What's the difference between a headsail and a staysail? The headsail is the most forward of the staysails. A boat can only have one headsail, but it can have multiple staysails. Every staysail is attached to a forward running stay. However, not every staysail is located at the bow. A stay can run from the mizzen mast to the main mast as well.

What is a mizzenmast? A mizzenmast is the mast aft of the main mast (behind; at the stern) in a two or three-masted sailing rig. The mizzenmast is shorter than the main mast. It may carry a mainsail, for example with a ketch or lugger. It sometimes doesn't carry a mainsail, for example with a yawl, allowing it to be much shorter.

Special thanks to the following people for letting me use their quality photos: Bill Abbott - True Spinnaker with pole - CC BY-SA 2.0 lotsemann - Volvo Ocean Race Alvimedica and the Code Zero versus SCA and the J1 - CC BY-SA 2.0 Lisa Bat - US Naval Academy Trysail and Storm Jib dry fit - CC BY-SA 2.0 Mike Powell - White gaff cat - CC BY-SA 2.0 Anne Burgess - Lugger The Reaper at Scottish Traditional Boat Festival

Hi, I stumbled upon your page and couldn’t help but notice some mistakes in your description of spinnakers and gennakers. First of all, in the main photo on top of this page the small yacht is sailing a spinnaker, not a gennaker. If you look closely you can see the spinnaker pole standing on the mast, visible between the main and headsail. Further down, the discription of the picture with the two German dinghies is incorrect. They are sailing spinnakers, on a spinnaker pole. In the farthest boat, you can see a small piece of the pole. If needed I can give you the details on the difference between gennakers and spinnakers correctly?

Hi Shawn, I am living in Utrecht I have an old gulf 32 and I am sailing in merkmeer I find your articles very helpful Thanks

Thank you for helping me under stand all the sails there names and what there functions were and how to use them. I am planning to build a trimaran 30’ what would be the best sails to have I plan to be coastal sailing with it. Thank you

Hey Comrade!

Well done with your master piece blogging. Just a small feedback. “The jib gives control over the bow of the ship, making it easier to maneuver the ship. The mainsail gives control over the stern of the ship.” Can you please first tell the different part of a sail boat earlier and then talk about bow and stern later in the paragraph. A reader has no clue on the newly introduced terms. It helps to keep laser focused and not forget main concepts.

Shawn, I am currently reading How to sail around the World” by Hal Roth. Yes, I want to sail around the world. His book is truly grounded in real world experience but like a lot of very knowledgable people discussing their area of expertise, Hal uses a lot of terms that I probably should have known but didn’t, until now. I am now off to read your second article. Thank You for this very enlightening article on Sail types and their uses.

Shawn Buckles

HI CVB, that’s a cool plan. Thanks, I really love to hear that. I’m happy that it was helpful to you and I hope you are of to a great start for your new adventure!

Hi GOWTHAM, thanks for the tip, I sometimes forget I haven’t specified the new term. I’ve added it to the article.

Nice article and video; however, you’re mixing up the spinnaker and the gennaker.

A started out with a question. What distinguishes a brig from a schooner? Which in turn led to follow-up questions: I know there are Bermuda rigs and Latin rig, are there more? Which in turn led to further questions, and further, and further… This site answers them all. Wonderful work. Thank you.

Great post and video! One thing was I was surprised how little you mentioned the Ketch here and not at all in the video or chart, and your sample image is a large ship with many sails. Some may think Ketch’s are uncommon, old fashioned or only for large boats. Actually Ketch’s are quite common for cruisers and live-aboards, especially since they often result in a center cockpit layout which makes for a very nice aft stateroom inside. These are almost exclusively the boats we are looking at, so I was surprised you glossed over them.

Love the article and am finding it quite informative.

While I know it may seem obvious to 99% of your readers, I wish you had defined the terms “upwind” and “downwind.” I’m in the 1% that isn’t sure which one means “with the wind” (or in the direction the wind is blowing) and which one means “against the wind” (or opposite to the way the wind is blowing.)

paul adriaan kleimeer

like in all fields of syntax and terminology the terms are colouual meaning local and then spead as the technology spread so an history lesson gives a floral bouque its colour and in the case of notical terms span culture and history adds an detail that bring reverence to the study simply more memorable.

Hi, I have a small yacht sail which was left in my lock-up over 30 years ago I basically know nothing about sails and wondered if you could spread any light as to the make and use of said sail. Someone said it was probably originally from a Wayfayer wooden yacht but wasn’t sure. Any info would be must appreciated and indeed if would be of any use to your followers? I can provide pics but don’t see how to include them at present

kind regards

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What is a Sailboat Mast?

What is a Sailboat Mast? | Life of Sailing

Last Updated by

Daniel Wade

June 15, 2022

A sailboat mast is the towering pole mounted to the deck. It attaches the length of the sail to the boat and supports the shape of the sail.

Sailboat masts are the most distinct feature of sailing vessels, and they hold the sails in place. Masts are often taller than the length of the boat. Most modern sailboat masts are made of aluminum, though traditional boats use wood. Sailboat mast type varies based on what type of sail plan they support.

Table of contents

Parts of the Mast

The mast itself is simply a pole and won't function without several essential parts. Starting from the deck is the mast boot, which keeps water from draining down the mast and into the cabin. The long wires connected to the mast on each side are the stays, and they keep the mast upright under tremendous force. The boom connects to the mast using a gooseneck fitting. Halyard lines, which run to the top of the mast, are used to raise and lower the sail.

Single-Mast Rigs

Single mast sailboats are what most people picture when they think of modern sailing craft. Single mast boats are popular because they're inexpensive to produce and relatively easy to operate singlehanded. The most common kinds of single-mast rigs are sloops, cutters, and catboats.

Sloop rig boats are the most common kind of sailboat today. Sloops feature a single mast mounted somewhere on the forward 3/5 of the deck, but some boat designs differ slightly. Generally speaking, a sloop mast lies somewhere in the middle to the forward-middle of the deck.

Sloop masts are rigged for a large mainsail and a jib. Bermuda-rigged sloops utilize a tall single mast and triangular sail. Gaff-rigged sloops, which are less common, use a much shorter mast and a larger four-point mainsail.

Catboat Mast

Catboats are unique vessels common to New England and feature a forward-mounted single mast and a long boom. Unlike sloop-rigged boats, catboats are only rigged for a single sail. Catboat masts are generally mounted almost at the very front of the boat, and they're often short and quite thick.

Catboats are almost often gaff-rigged. Gaff-rigged sail plans make the most of short masts and are relatively easy to control in a single-mast configuration. Gaff-rigged catboat masts are shorter than Bermuda-rigged boats of similar size but generally taller than similar gaff-rigged craft.

Cutter Mast

Cutter-rigged sailboats feature a tall single mast and multiple headsails. Visually, cutters are easy to mistake for sloops. But the mast of a cutter is usually taller than a comparably-sized sloop, as it utilizes multiple headsails instead of a single jib.

Gaff-rigged cutters are much more common than gaff-rigged sloops in many areas. Cutters are easy to distinguish from sloops, even when the sails are stowed. This is because cutters often feature a long bowsprit and two front stays (forestay and jib stay).

Multi-Mast Rigs

Mult-mast rigs are less common than single-mast configurations. That said, multi-mast sailboats are often elegant and seaworthy. Though they offer more than just good looks—multiple masts offer speed and precise control for experienced sailors. Most of these vessels feature two masts, which are often shorter than masts on comparably-sized single-mast craft. The most common variations are yawl rigs, ketch rigs, and schooner rigs.

Yawls are robust multi-mast vessels that vary in length from 20 feet to well over 50 feet. A yawl features a long forward mainmast and a short mizzen mast located towards the back of the boat. Yawls are often gaff-rigged and were once used as utility boats.

Yawl rigged sailboats can use the mizzen mast and sail as a form of self-steering. The yawl is easy to distinguish from other two-masted vessels, as the mizzenmast is comparably short—often about half the size of the mainmast. Additionally, the mizzen mast is positioned aft of the rudder post.

Ketch Masts

At first glance, a ketch can be mistaken for a yawl. But the ketch features two similarly-sized masts and a much larger mizzen. The mizzen mast on a ketch is positioned forward of the rudder post. Ketch-rigged boats are often gaff-rigged as well, utilizing topsails on both masts. Some ketch-rigged boats have triangular sailplanes, mitigating the need for topsails.

Like the yawl, the ketch utilizes a headsail, a mainsail , and a mizzen sail, which is comparable in size to the mainsail. Ketch-rigged boats can be sailed with one or more aft sails stowed.

Schooner Masts

Schooners are among the most elegant multi-mast sailboat types. Schooners are visibly closer to ketches than yawls. But upon closer inspection, a schooner will have a shorter foremast and a longer (or almost equally-sized) mast behind it.

Schooner masts are tall and thick but usually shorter than similarly-sized single mast boats. This is because two-masted vessels distribute the sail plan over two masts and don't need the extra length to make up for lost sail area. Schooners are usually gaff-rigged and often utilize topsails and topmasts that extend the height of the mast.

Tall Ship Masts

Tall ships are the classic large sailing vessels that dominated the oceans for hundreds of years before the age of steam. Famous vessels such as the U.S.S. Constitution and the H.M.S. Victory feature this enormous and complex rig configuration.

Tall ships have three or more enormous masts, which are often made from entire tree trunks. Some of the largest tall ships have five or more masts. Tall ships are usually 100 feet in length or greater, as the size and complexity of these square-rigged ships make them only practical at scale. Tall ships utilize one or more mainmasts, mizzenmasts, a foremast, and a gaff-rigged jigger mast aft of the mizzenmast.

Sailboat Mast Materials

Sailboat masts are usually made out of aluminum or certain varieties of wood. Up to the 1950s, virtually all sailboat masts were made of wood. That changed around the same time that fiberglass boats became popular. Today, aluminum is the most common mast material.

Aluminum Sailboat Masts

The most common modern mast material is aluminum. Aluminum masts are lightweight, hollow, and easy to manufacture. These relatively inexpensive masts hold up well to salt water. Aluminum masts are also strong for their weight.

One downside to aluminum masts is galvanic corrosion, which occurs frightfully fast when saltwater comes into contact with aluminum and another metal (such as steel or copper). Aluminum masts are most common on Bermuda-rigged sloops.

Wood Sailboat Masts

Wood is the traditional material for sailboat masts, and it's still used today on many custom boats. Wood masts are heavy but strong, and a well-maintained wood mast can last over a hundred years. Wooden masts are common on gaff-rigged boats, as wood is an ideal material for shorter masts.

The most common mast wood comes from the Fir family. Douglas fir is common, but regional varieties (such as British, Columbian, and Yellow fir) are perfectly suitable. Some sailboats (particularly tall ships) use pine or redwood as a mast material. Some varieties of cedar (such as Port Orford cedar, Oregon cedar, and white cedar) are also excellent materials for building masts and spars.

Carbon Fiber Masts

Carbon fiber masts are a new arrival to boatbuilding, and they offer some advantages to wood and aluminum masts. Carbon fiber is lightweight and extremely strong, which makes it ideal for tall-masted racing sailboats. Vessels that compete in America's Cup races utilize the most premium carbon fiber masts in the industry.

Unlike wood (and aluminum to some extent), carbon fiber masts aren't particularly flexible. The rigidity of carbon fiber makes it strong, but stiffness is also a weakness. Under the right conditions, carbon fiber masts can break violently and are impossible to repair once broken.

Mast Maintenance

It's essential to maintain your mast and all of its accompanying hardware. Mast stays, lines, and halyards should be inspected regularly, adjusted, and replaced at regular intervals. Wooden masts should be varnished and checked for signs of rot.

Aluminum masts are generally low-maintenance, but signs of corrosion warrant immediate repair. Work with your local boat mechanic or sailing expert to develop a comprehensive maintenance plan. And remember, preventative maintenance is always cheaper and easier than repairs. 

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I've personally had thousands of questions about sailing and sailboats over the years. As I learn and experience sailing, and the community, I share the answers that work and make sense to me, here on Life of Sailing.

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What Is A Sailboat Mast?

A sailboat mast is one of the most defining features of a sailboat (along with the sails of course!) You can immediately tell that a boat is a sailing boat when you spot the tall mast sticking out of the hull.

But why do sailboats need a mast? Having lived on a sailboat for years now I’ve never really questioned the need for a mast. It’s such an integral part of the boat that I just sort of forget it’s there!

When our friends recently lost their mast due to a rigging failure it got me thinking – why do sailboats need a mast and what function (aside from holding up the sails) do they actually play. It turns out, quite a lot!

We’re going to dive into the fascinating world of sailboat masts, exploring different rigs, mast materials, and the different functions that masts play. It’s important stuff if you want to go sailing, and a lot of it I should have known sooner!

sailboat masts in front of a sunset

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Table of Contents

Why do sailboats need a mast, parts of the mast, what materials are masts made from, single mast rigs, sailboats with two masts, sailboats with three masts, how to look after your mast.

the mast of a mainsail

A sailboat mast is a vertical, upright structure that supports the sails of a sailboat. It is a crucial component of the boat’s rigging system and plays a key role in harnessing the power of the wind to propel the vessel. Typically located in the center of the boat, the mast extends upward from the deck or hull.

The height of the mast varies depending on the size and type of the sailboat, directly impacting the sail area and overall performance of the boat.

Together with the boom (a horizontal spar attached to the bottom of the mast), the mast allows sailors to control the shape and orientation of the sails, optimizing their efficiency in different wind conditions.

The design and configuration of the mast can vary depending on the type of sailboat, such as a sloop, cutter, ketch, or schooner.

Sailboats require a mast primarily to support the sails.

It holds the sails in an elevated position, allowing them to catch the wind effectively. Without a mast, the sails would lack the means to be raised and positioned to harness the power of the wind.

There are a few other important jobs that the mast plays:

Control and Manipulation of Sails: The mast, along with the boom (a horizontal spar attached to the mast’s lower end), enables sailors to control and manipulate the sails.

By adjusting the angle and tension of the sails through the mast, sailors can optimize their performance according to wind conditions and desired boat speed.

This control allows for maneuverability and efficient use of wind power.

Structural Integrity: The mast contributes to the overall structural integrity of the sailboat. It helps distribute the loads and forces exerted by the sails, rigging, and masthead components throughout the boat’s hull and keel.

The mast’s design and construction ensure stability and strength, allowing the boat to withstand the forces generated by the wind.

Attachment Points for Rigging: The mast provides attachment points for various rigging components, including halyards (lines used to raise and lower the sails), stays (wires or rods that support the mast in different directions), and shrouds (wires that provide lateral support to the mast).

These rigging elements are essential for properly tensioning the sails and maintaining the mast’s stability.

Height and Visibility: The mast’s height contributes to the sailboat’s visibility, allowing other vessels to spot it more easily, particularly when sailing in congested waters. The mast’s presence also serves as a visual reference for determining the boat’s position, orientation, and distance from potential hazards.

While the mast’s primary purpose is to support the sails and enable control over their position, it also plays a significant role in maintaining the structural integrity of the sailboat and enhancing its visibility on the water.

Basically, the mast is pretty darn important!

a sailboat with a mast

Along with a million other confusing sailboat terms , the mast has lots of different parts too. A sailboat mast consists of several distinct parts, each serving a specific function. Here are the different parts commonly found on a sailboat mast:

  • Masthead: The masthead is the topmost section of the mast. It often includes attachment points for various components such as halyards (lines used to raise and lower the sails), the forestay (the wire or rod that supports the front of the mast), and other rigging elements. The masthead may also house instruments like wind vanes or antennas.
  • Spreaders: Spreaders are horizontal bars attached to the mast, typically positioned at specific intervals along its length. They help support the rigging wires and prevent excessive sideways bending of the mast. The position and angle of the spreaders contribute to the proper alignment and tension of the rigging.
  • Shrouds: Shrouds are the wires or cables that provide lateral support to the mast. They connect the mast to the sides of the boat, helping to stabilize the mast and distribute the loads generated by the sails. Shrouds are typically tensioned using turnbuckles or other adjustable fittings.
  • Backstay: The backstay is a cable or wire that provides support to the rear of the mast. It helps counterbalance the forces exerted by the forestay and the mainsail, preventing the mast from excessively bending forward. Adjustable backstays allow for tuning the mast’s rigidity based on wind conditions and sail trim.
  • Halyard Sheaves: Halyard sheaves are small wheels or pulleys located at the masthead or lower down the mast. They guide halyards, which are lines used to raise and lower the sails. Halyard sheaves minimize friction, allowing smooth and efficient hoisting or lowering of the sails.
  • Gooseneck: The gooseneck is a fitting that connects the boom to the mast. It allows the boom to pivot or rotate horizontally, enabling control over the angle and position of the mainsail. The gooseneck may include a pin or other locking mechanism to secure the boom to the mast.
  • Mast Step: The mast step is the base or fitting where the mast rests and is secured to the deck or hull of the sailboat. It provides stability and distributes the loads from the mast to the boat’s structure.

These are some of the primary parts found on a sailboat mast. The specific configuration and additional components may vary depending on the sailboat’s design, rigging system, and intended use.

a sailboat in front of a beautiful sunset

I was surprised to learn that sailboat masts are commonly made from several different materials, each offering its own advantages in terms of strength, weight, and flexibility.

The choice of material depends on various factors, including the type and size of the sailboat, desired performance characteristics, and budget.

Here are some of the materials used for sailboat mast construction:

Aluminum is a popular choice for sailboat masts due to its favorable combination of strength, lightweight, and corrosion resistance. Aluminum masts are relatively easy to manufacture, making them cost-effective. They offer good stiffness, enabling efficient power transfer from the sails to the boat.

Carbon Fiber

Carbon fiber has gained significant popularity in sailboat mast construction, especially in high-performance and racing sailboats. You’ll see black carbon fibre masts on fancy sailboats!

Carbon fiber masts are exceptionally lightweight, providing excellent stiffness-to-weight ratios. This allows for enhanced responsiveness, improved performance, and reduced heeling (tilting) of the boat.

Carbon fiber masts can be precisely engineered to optimize flex patterns and provide targeted strength where needed.

Traditional sailboats, particularly those with a classic or vintage design, may have masts made from wood. Wood offers an aesthetically pleasing and traditional look.

Wooden masts can be constructed using solid wood or laminated techniques, which involve layering thin strips of wood for added strength and stability. Wood masts require regular maintenance, including varnishing and sealing to protect against moisture.

In some cases, steel may be used for sailboat masts, especially in larger vessels or those designed for specific purposes, such as offshore cruising or heavy-duty applications.

Steel masts offer robustness and durability, but they are heavier compared to other materials. They require adequate corrosion protection to prevent rusting.

Composite Materials

Sailboat masts can also be constructed using composite materials, such as fiberglass or fiberglass-reinforced plastics. These materials provide a balance between cost, weight, and strength. Fiberglass masts can be an option for recreational sailboats or those on a tighter budget.

It’s worth noting that advancements in materials and manufacturing techniques continually evolve, introducing new possibilities for sailboat mast construction.

The choice of mast material should consider factors such as boat type, intended use, performance requirements, and personal preferences, balanced with considerations of cost and maintenance.

Different Types Of Masts

sailboat masts in a marina

There are several different types of masts used in sailboat designs, each with its own characteristics and purposes.

We’ve included how the masts are fixed on the boat. This one is an important one when buying a sailboat as you might have a preference over how your mast is attached to the hull or deck.

We’ve also included different rigs, as some boats have just a single mast and other sailboats will have two or more masts. Again, you might have a preference as to which rig set up you prefer so it’s worth knowing the pros and cons of each.

Keel-stepped Mast

A keel-stepped mast is one that extends down through the deck and is secured to the boat’s keel or structural framework. Keel-stepped masts offer stability and strength, as they transfer the loads directly to the boat’s foundation.

They are commonly found in larger sailboats and offshore cruising vessels. We loved knowing our deck was secured to one of the strongest parts of the boat.

It does come with some problems though, like the fact it can leak and start raining in the boat! A decent mast boot will stop this.

Deck-stepped Mast

A deck-stepped mast rests on a step or fitting on the deck, rather than extending down through it. Deck-stepped masts are typically used in smaller sailboats and are more straightforward to install, maintain, and unstep.

They are often lighter and less expensive than keel-stepped masts but may sacrifice some stability and rigidity.

Fractional Rig

A fractional rig features a mast where the forestay is attached below the masthead, typically at a point less than halfway up the mast’s height. This design allows for a larger headsail and a smaller mainsail.

Fractional rigs are popular on modern cruising and racing sailboats as they offer versatility, easy sail control, and improved performance in various wind conditions.

Masthead Rig

In a masthead rig, the forestay attaches at the top of the masthead. This design is commonly found in traditional sailboats. Masthead rigs typically feature larger headsails and smaller mainsails. They are known for their simplicity, easy balance, and suitability for cruising and downwind sailing.

There are various different rig set ups that just have one single mast. We’ll look at a few of the most popular types, but be aware that there are quite a few variations out there these days! It can get a little complicated!

The sloop rig is one of the most popular and widely used single mast rigs. It consists of a single mast with a mainsail and a headsail. The headsail, typically a jib or genoa, is attached to the forestay at the bow of the boat, while the mainsail is attached to the mast and boom.

Sloops offer simplicity, versatility, and ease of handling, making them suitable for a wide range of sailboats, from small day-sailers to larger cruising vessels.

A cutter rig utilizes two jibs : a smaller headsail attached to the forestay and a larger headsail called a staysail attached to an inner stay or a removable stay.

The mainsail is usually smaller in a cutter rig. This rig provides versatility and options for different sail combinations, making it suitable for offshore cruising and handling various wind conditions.

We absolutely loved our cutter rig as it gave so much flexibility, especially in heavy weather. A downside is that tacking is a little harder, as you have to pull the genoa past the stay sail.

Sailboats with two masts tend to be seen on older boats, but they are still popular and quite common, especially with long-distance sailors looking for versatility.

The yawl rig features two masts, with a shorter mizzen mast positioned aft of the main mast and rudder stock. The mizzen mast is usually shorter than the main mast.

Yawls offer versatility, improved balance, and increased maneuverability, making them suitable for offshore cruising and long-distance sailing.

A ketch rig has two masts: a taller main mast located near the boat’s center and a shorter mizzen mast positioned aft of the main mast but forward of the rudder stock. The mizzen mast is typically shorter than the main mast.

Ketch rigs provide additional sail area and options for sail combinations, offering good balance and flexibility for cruising and long-distance sailing. A lot of long-term cruisers love ketch rigs, though they tend to be found on older boats.

The downside is that you’ll have two masts with accompanying rigging to maintain, which isn’t necessarily a small job.

Sailboats with three masts or more are rare. They tend to be seen only on very large, expensive sailing yachts due to the additional expense of maintaining three masts, rigging and additional sails.

They aren’t great for single-handed crews but they do look very impressive and can power bigger vessels.

Schooner Rig

A schooner rig features two or more masts, with the aft mast (known as the mizzen mast) being taller than the forward mast(s).

Schooners are known for their multiple headsails and often have a gaff-rigged or square-rigged configuration on one or both masts. Schooner rigs offer impressive sail area, versatility, and classic aesthetics.

Schooner rigs are much rarer than the rigs mentioned above so it’s unlikely you’ll find one on a cruising vessel.

These are just a few examples of the different types of masts used in sailboat designs. Each rig type has its own advantages and considerations in terms of sail control, performance, balance, and intended use.

The choice of mast and rig depends on factors such as boat size, purpose, sailing conditions, and personal preferences.

lots of sailboats in a boatyard with stormy skies

We didn’t know the first thing about looking after our mast when we first moved aboard and we made it our mission to find out. When you’re sailing frequently then the last thing you want is to experience a mast coming down mid-passage!

Taking proper care of your sailboat mast is important to ensure its longevity and optimal performance. Here are some tips on how to look after your mast:

  • Regular Inspections: Conduct regular visual inspections of your mast to check for any signs of damage, wear, or corrosion. Look for cracks, dents, loose fittings, or any other issues that may compromise the mast’s integrity.
  • Cleaning: Keep your mast clean by regularly washing it with fresh water. Remove dirt, salt, and other contaminants that can accelerate corrosion. Use a mild detergent or boat-specific cleaner, and rinse thoroughly.
  • Corrosion Prevention: Protect your mast from corrosion by applying a suitable corrosion inhibitor or protective coating. Pay particular attention to areas where fittings, rigging, or other components come into contact with the mast.
  • Lubrication: Lubricate moving parts such as sheaves, shackles, and slides with a marine-grade lubricant. This helps prevent friction and ensures smooth operation. Be cautious not to over-lubricate, as excess lubricant can attract dirt and debris.
  • Rigging Maintenance: Inspect your rigging regularly for signs of wear, such as broken strands, fraying, or excessive stretching. Replace any worn or damaged rigging promptly to avoid potential mast damage.
  • UV Protection: The sun’s UV rays can degrade and weaken the mast over time. Protect your mast from UV damage by applying a UV-resistant coating or using mast covers when the boat is not in use.
  • Storage Considerations: If you need to store your boat for an extended period, consider removing the mast and storing it horizontally or in a mast-up position, depending on the boat design. Store the mast in a clean, dry, and well-ventilated area to prevent moisture buildup and potential damage.
  • Professional Inspections: Periodically have your mast inspected by a professional rigger or boatyard to assess its condition and identify any potential issues that may require attention. They can provide expert advice on maintenance and repair.

Remember, if you are unsure about any maintenance or repair tasks, it’s always recommended to consult with a professional rigger or boatyard to ensure proper care and safety of your mast.

We learned so much from having our rigging inspected, so we highly recommend you do this if you’re at all unsure.

Conclusion: What Is A Sailboat Mast?

In conclusion, a sailboat mast is a crucial component that plays a vital role in the performance, control, and integrity of a sailboat. It’s a good idea to learn about sailboats before you head out on a sail – unlike us!

The mast serves as a vertical structure that supports the sails, allowing them to capture the power of the wind effectively. The mast enables sailors to control and manipulate the position of the sails, optimizing performance based on wind conditions.

Additionally, the mast contributes to the overall structural integrity of the boat, distributing loads and forces throughout the hull and keel. Various rigging components, such as halyards, shrouds, and spreaders, are attached to the mast, providing support and enabling precise sail control.

By understanding the importance of the mast and properly caring for it through regular inspections, cleaning, corrosion prevention, lubrication, and rigging maintenance, sailors can ensure their mast’s longevity and optimal performance.

A well-maintained sailboat mast contributes to a safe, enjoyable, and successful sailing experience.

  • How much do new sails cost?
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For raising, only the cap shrouds and the headstay needed to be attached to their respective chainplates. Out of respect for Murphy’s Law, the other wires were secured tightly to the mast to mitigate their inclination to get snagged. Snagged wires like to kink, and whether new or old, it is unsatisfying, not to mention detrimental to their longevity and strength. The turnbuckles were wrapped in rags and secured to the mast, preventing them from scratching and banging into anything (everything.)

triple mast sailboat

The bridle setup was more challenging to organize with the rig down than up. Since I had new wires, I needed to re-seize the stainless steel rings to the cap shrouds. It required holding up the wire to determine the proper pivot points with the mast. Then the opposing force lines to the lower stay chainplates were added, conceptualizing the rigid triangle necessary to maintain the pivot points. With the rig up, it is easier to build and see this. But down, it is a floppy mess. Then, a line was attached to each ring, ready to lead to a bail on the boom. A block and tackle served nicely for this on one side for ease of adjustment. These guylines will provide the opposing forces to keep the boom centered.

The Bridle Set-Up

After that, I moved the mast to the tabernacle and pinned its base in the ready position. A final review of the halyard and wire leads and spreader orientations was done. A reminder: Always be on the lookout for snagging wires and lines whenever you move the mast.

triple mast sailboat

The boom, as a gin pole, could then be added. When lowering, it was already in position and there was only the matter of attaching the bridle lines. However, with the mast down, the boom would be attached starting in a vertical position, which involved some boat yoga. I shackled the mainsheet and topping lift to its outer end. Lots of slack was fed into those lines, allowing for lifting it straight up. While holding it so, I pinned the mast end to the gooseneck. I picked up the previously-led guylines (the line and the block and tackle) and attached them to the boom bail. I tightened and adjusted the mainsheet, the topping lift, and the guylines until the boom was centered and vertical. The opposing forces held the gin pole in place.

With the correct bridle setup, the mast base in the tabernacle, and the gin pole in place, it was simply a matter of hoisting the mast. On a Flicka 20, the round bar traveler and the four-part mainsheet block and tackle are very accommodating to providing the mechanical advantage necessary for raising and lowering the mast. To a soloist, this advantage was indispensable. It took two hands and a bit of leaning to get it moving, but it became easier as it went higher. An eye was kept on the centerline alignment of the mast and boom, making sure the bridle prep was accurate, and watching that the wires did not snag.

triple mast sailboat

The accompanying video shows the raising from a first-person view and solo. In contrast to lowering the mast, gravity is less of a friend, so the ascent is slower, with a bit more heave-ho. There is no shame in re-lowering the mast to adjust the bridle lines or sort out the wires. It is better to correct them early than to think something will be all right when it is not. Raising and lowering the mast is not rocket science, but 99% of the gig is proper preparation. If something goes wrong, it could be catastrophic, so double- and triple-check. It can be intimidating at first, but it is simple physics and simple tools at work. Remember, keep it safe and prudent, and have a blast.

triple mast sailboat

This is so stressful to watch! I would have never had the courage to do it myself. As always, you have my respect and admiration. Well done!

triple mast sailboat

Rusty, thanks for the kind words, and thanks for reading.

triple mast sailboat

Joshua, Thank you for taking the time for so nicely relaying your experiences on single-hand stepping the mast on your Flicka. I am currently refining this design process for my own boat, and am thus interested in the finer details. My initial questions are two: First, concerning the method and material for seizing the bridle to the cap shrouds: As you state, a properly rigged bridle is key to making the process work. How did you analyze the adequacy of your seizing method and the loads that would be experienced?

Temporary seizing is a good place to start for me, but since I do this spring and fall every year, I have considered incorporating a more permanent nicropress and cable pigtail for the ring attachment (the loads there are not very high). A triangular plate in the top shroud with attachment points for the bridle connection points would be nicer, but more expensive to implement. Either way, it is probably prudent to use a temporary seizing first, to demonstrate dimensional functionality prior to a permanent solution. Second, I am sure you release the cap shrouds to allow the bridle arrangement some up/down movement as a result of the mast butt movement in the tabernacle during stepping. Somehow I must have missed that. Once upon a time I tried raising the mast with very slack uppers (guessing at what was needed instead of graphical analysis or calculations) instead of the bridle approach (all else was like your scenario). Because the slack was inadequate and no bridle, I managed to bend my boom out of alignment. :o(. A good machine shop worked that out. As long as the mast remains vertical through the lift, there isn’t much load on that ring connection, but its job is keeping the mast in a vertical/perpendicular orientation through the lift. But if some kind of unforeseen incident would create shock loading on the seized ring, (say even 2 pounds of lateral movement (force at the truck) that would correlate to about 56 foot-pounds of moment (engineering statics) applied at the ring due to the long lever arm of the mast. If it were 5 pounds force perpendicular at the top of the mast, it would correlate to up to 140 foot pounds. In my view, a shock load of 5 pounds or maybe more, isn’t an unlikely scenario, considering Murphy. I can’t think of a way to analyze the strength of the seizing, and prayer does not work for me. So, how did you analyze the adequacy of your seizing method and what did you use? Wire? In my case, I have been stepping my mast at least annually, on my Lancer 25 for more than 35 years. I usually do it on the hard, or in the water if launching was via travel lift or something else that dictated the mast needed to be down when launched. But in at least one case, years ago, while sailing near Cowichan Bay at Vancouver Island, the jib wire jumped the sheave (a result of rough water and a slack line while dousing the jib) at the truck, and jammed along-side of the sheave when I tried to pull the sail down. I wasn’t sure of the problem at the time, but the sail definitely was not coming down, so I wrapped the jib halyard around the forestay to try to contain the partially-filled sail and considered my options. Luckily, upon checking my depth sounder, and found some shallow 30’ water (unheard of up there) and dropped the hook (probably on a rock bottom) and it held well enough for the task at hand. My mate always helped tail the line connected to the backstay at the winch and through a clam cleat to hold things if I needed a rest. I just loosened and released the rigging as necessary, muscle-dropped the mast and used the dinghy to go forward and sort things out. It was a very high reach, but I was successful. After I got the mast back up it started to rain….. I later drilled a hole in the truck to insert a stainless wire restraint, so the halyard cable could not be thrown off the sheave again. I have toyed with analyzing more mechanical methods for raising the mast now that I am older, less strong, and my first mate has passed on. That is what piqued my interest on your article. The Flicka is ready-made (Bingham designed it in; I am sure) for this raising procedure. The Flicka doesn’t have many complications, since there are double lowers in perfect position for the bridle attachment, and the cap shrouds are neatly centered to the mast. The Lancer is not so nice. It has a single set of lowers, and the chain plate has about 1” between the 2 connections for uppers and lowers. These are also set about 3” aft of mast centerline. The original Lancer design was a tabernacle (not exactly the proper technical term, but we will go with it) with the slot in the tabernacle tabs, and a through bolt for securing the mast. I would say this is the usual case for production trailer sailor boats. I have never been wild about the uneven up-and-down friction-prone mast butt action and the associated movement reflected in the rigging connections during stepping. I do have a strong toe rail to connect the bridle, but the chain-plate bridle connection will not work geometrically. I have purchased a hinged tabernacle plate from Ballinger Spars, which will smooth out the rotational process down there. However, the negative thing it does, is place the pivot point about 3” in front of the mast centerline. The hinge movement is forward of the mast (eccentric) and translates to about 3” up-and-down movement (tensioning or slacking) of the cap shroud/ bridle assembly while stepping the Lancer mast. With the eccentric hinged plate pivot, (while rotating up), the mast butt raises momentarily for about 1/4” (slackening the rigging) and then drops down 3” (requiring an equal amount of rigging slack or things will go into tension, which is no good). The shrouds or bridle assembly must allow a lengthening of 3” during rotation of the mast butt into final position (as determined by graphical analysis). On lowering, the movement is opposite, so the shrouds will slacken throughout rotation without causing any tension problems, and there is plenty of play being created to keep any stresses from developing. I suppose the key in my case is to set the bridle configuration when the mast I up, thus ‘dimensionally building in’ the 3” movement required into the bridle/shroud system. Thoughts? The following is an analysis of the forces on the Lancer rigging dimensions and mast weight: The mast (Kenyon 3550) is 28’ long and weighs in at 62 pounds. I arbitrarily rounded to 70 pounds for these calculations. The moment to initiate lifting the mast is 980 foot pounds. (28’x half the mast length x70 pounds – assume equal weight distribution per foot.). That is to say, if the mast is on the ground and you lift one end, it will take 35 pounds force through a distance of 28 feet (=980 foot pounds of moment acting on the mast to lift one end off of the ground). But in raising the mast, the force is pulling more aft than up (requiring vector analysis which I will get to). I am currently considering a 10’ jibboom mounted at the hinge point and not higher on the mast where the boom lives, which changes the numbers- (no bending forces on the mast – which are not really great enough to mean much to the 3550). Also in the Flicka case, boom length (as with lancer) is probably about 8’. A 10’ jibboom lowers the forces more than an 8’, but using the existing spar is practical. It is probably prudent for me to reconsider and re-calculate using the boom in its usual position. A few years ago, I designed and had a fitting made to connect a jibboom to the mast foot, so I was considering using it. So, running the numbers based on the Lacer backstay distance to the mast and initial lay of the mast, it would take (rounded) 103 pounds of tension in the backstay from the mast truck to the jibboom, and 125 pounds of tension from the jibboom to the backstay connection point. Compression loading in the 10’ boom is 114 pounds. Yes, one can use Eulers equation to analyze buckling forces, but I didn’t do it. Following good engineering practice with a factor of safety of at least 2, these numbers would be double the values shown for design checking of adequacy of rigging and spars. Confirming your experience, as the mast goes up, the center of gravity moves aft, requiring less and less force to raise the mast (and the geometry is changing) to increase efficiency of the forces as the mast goes up. 30degrees=858 ft lbs, 45 degrees=700 ft lbs, 70 degrees=350 ft lbs. 70 degrees into the lift, it would equate to 10 pounds of perpendicular force applied at the top (the center of mast mass has shifted to only 5’ in front of the final mast position). With a 4:1 ratio applied on the backstay, the pull on the line is about 31 pounds force for the Lancer System. The Flicka system is somewhat more (I don’t have the dimensions to analyze it), but from your description it was probably 40 pounds or less to start the raise, and then the tension required reduces as the mast goes up. Since the pull for the lancer scenario calculates in at around 31 pounds, I am planning to run the bitter end of the 4:1 through a block at the stern, to the bow, through a blocks on the bow, and use the anchor windlass to pull the mast up (the windlass maximum has 400 pounds of tension available). So even with friction losses, there should be no issue. I have a windlass switch in the cockpit, and a second hand-held remote at the forward hatch. It is a very convenient setup for going forward and guiding the mast or sorting out issues. Also, after my spouse passed, I put a winch at about 5’ high on the mast, and I ran the raising line there, instead of needing someone tailing at the cockpit. It is easier (almost necessary) to have a helper with me at the mast. I have lowered the mast alone with this manual system by taking wraps on the winch and playing out slack while catching the mast. However, without a jibboom, the forces are tougher to man-handle alone at the end of the lowering process. Comments are appreciated, as there is always something else to be considered or learned. Thanks

Jim, Thanks for reading and taking the time to engage. You have certainly been thinking about this! You get far deeper into the physics than I ever have and I suspect, many readers and sailors. Regarding seizing the rings on, I don’t overthink it. I have some net twine and I wrap and figure-eight it until I am sure it is strong enough. They are not permanent installations but are easy for me to put on as needed. Thoughtful marlinspike would make a nice permanent install. I have seen a different Flicka install that had the cap shroud turnbuckle placed at the pivot point. This removed the need for a seized-on ring and also gave a nice pivot point that does not bend the wire. Kinking the wire is my big concern, but the forces and the pivot point have not been high enough to do this, so without doing the physics calculation, the stress is low. Regarding the extra slack in the cap shrouds to accommodate that extra lift that occurs as the mast tips forward, no, I did not mention it, but it is a thing. I learned of that when I did not have them slack enough on a lowering. I recognized what was happening, so rather than forcing it, I backed off, adjusted, and restarted. Article scope naturally means some things are left out. That is good intel on bending your boom though. I have found on a sailboat, that if something feels like it is not running free, something is wrong. I don’t force it.

Thanks for the reply, Joshua.

I am leaning toward installing a permanent 4-hole triangular plate in the cap shroud at the bridle connection. This would create clear movement for hinge point attachments, and address stresses that can occur there. The rest is just a matter of rigging things up.

Best wishes in the new year.

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Production of this Dave Pedrick design started in 1993 and continues today. An optional package for traditional headsails is a departure from Freedom’s self-tending legacy.

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With 85 hulls built to date, Freedom Yachts of Middletown, Rhode Island counts the Dave Pedrick-designed 35-footer as a solid success story. Freedom currently builds sailboats in three sizes, at 35, 40, and 45 feet, as well as the Legacy line of powerboats. The sailboat line stakes its identity on three points: sound naval architecture, high-quality construction, and sailing simplicity based on the freestanding rig and self-tacking jib. The line blossomed after the emergence of the sprightly and bulletproof Freedom 30 designed by Gary Mull in 1986. That boat, known to many readers, can serve as a useful benchmark in a discussion of the Freedom 35.

Design Pedrick’s designer’s comments speak of his intention to make the Freedom 35 a fast, easy-to-handle boat with ample cruising accommodations in the cockpit and belowdecks, as well as the ability to perform well at the club-racing level. To those ends he drafted a hull form that’s graceful and powerful, with a slightly aggressive look — a subtle sheer rising to a shallowly raked stem and a reverse-transom, with moderate overhangs at both ends and the beam carried well aft. The underwater hull is modestly round and full at the turn of the bilge and flattens as it runs aft — flat enough to allow the boat to surf in the right conditions. The transom carries a swim-platform scoop that blends well with the hull lines. A swim ladder is attached and can be lowered from the scoop. The helmsman’s seat can be removed to provide flow-through between swim platform and cockpit.

Freedom 35

The cockpit itself is a bit small for a 35-footer — 7′ 3″ long by 5′ 9″ wide, with a T-shaped footwell aft to make space for the Edson wheel.There’s a large cockpit locker to starboard and twin lazarettes either side of the helmsman’s seat. The size of the cockpit makes it easier for a shorthanded crew to reach the sail controls, and the sides and coamings provide good support and security; stretching out under the stars, however, probably wouldn’t be worth attempting.

Like other Freedoms, the 35 carries a tall, unstayed carbon fiber mast with a big full-roach main and small standard jib, although the foretriangle on the 35 is relatively larger than that on the 30. The jib is fitted with a CamberSpar, a sort of internal wishbone that stretches the sail from the clew to a point on the lower luff. It articulates from tack to tack, more or less forcefully according to wind strength, thus helping shape the lower part of the jib upwind while allowing it to be winged out effectively downwind.

Unlike the Freedom 30, which was not rigged to carry more than its two basic sails, the Freedom 35 is offered with an optional overlapping headsail package, consisting mainly of a set of running backstays to oppose the headstay on the 3/4 fractional rig, and a set of primary winches in the cockpit for trimming. This set-up allows genoas and spinnakers to be hoisted to the hounds; the tip of the mast remains unsupported. In standard jib mode the runners aren’t needed — in fact, in the stock Freedom sailplan the jib exists more to create a slot upwind than to provide substantial horsepower itself; the headstay remains almost slack, tensioned only by the push of the CamberSpar, and luff tension is maintained by the jib halyard, as on a sailing dinghy.

Aside from initial cost, which is roughly $10,000 more than an equivalent aluminum spar and standing rigging would be on this 35-footer, the unstayed carbon rig has few apparent drawbacks — in fact, some of the cost of the carbon spar is recouped by the fact that the hull requires no chainplates, tierods or related supporting structures. It’s simpler and requires less maintenance than stayed aluminum rigs, and without the downward pull of the stays and shrouds, compression at the mast step is reduced.

Freestanding carbon spars are big and round at the partners and taper as they rise. They do obstruct airflow to the sail, especially down low, but as for windage it may be that without stays, shrouds, and spreaders they play about even with their aluminum counterparts.

In one of the few substantive changes to the F-35 since the introduction of the boat, Freedom a few years ago shifted the sparbuilding contract to Goetz Marine Technologies, known for its expertise in carbon fiber work. GMT produces a “lighter, stiffer” spar, according to Freedom spokeswoman Roe O’Brien, who also says that there have been no reported rig failures on the 35, before or after the change. The spar comes with a transferable 10-year warranty, or a lifetime warranty to the original owner.

It may be that the only shortcoming of the carbon spar these days is psychological: The scarcity of wires can be disconcerting. We all tend to grasp at the shrouds when we’re working at the mast or coming aboard amidships, and when they’re not there, something seems askew with the world.

The boat is offered with two keel options, a deep fin with a Pedrick-designed “whale tail” profile, or a shallower (not to say shoal-draft) wing keel. The whale-tail rudder is a big, high-aspect foil on a carbon fiber stock. Owners report that Freedom’s and Pedrick’s extra efforts in designing responsive steering have paid off: The boat turns quickly and accurately, and provides good feel through the Edson system.

There’s little question that the deep keel provides better lift than the winged version. This translates into acceleration in a puff, less heeling and slippage as boatspeed increases, and often less leeway once the boat is up to speed.

For some owners, the Freedom 35’s draft may be the hardest nut to crack. The deep keel is quite deep at 6′ 6″, and the wing keel, at 4′ 6″, isn’t all that shallow.

Construction Hull construction standards are at the top end of the production scale — skins of biaxial and unidirectional E-glass with vinylester resin, sandwiching an end-grain balsa core. The hull/deck joint is bonded with 3M-5200 and through-bolted on 6″ centers. There’s a transferable 10-year warranty against hull blistering.

Freedom 35

Down below, furniture is fastened to the bulkheads, and the bulkheads are glassed directly to the hull. There are solid fiberglass transverse supports under the floorboards. There are five Lewmar hatches on deck, 19-3/4″ square in the forward and main cabins and 10″ square over the head, galley and aft cabin. All ports are 316-grade stainless steel — another indication that these boats are stretching outside the standard production mentality. Stainless ports add significantly to the builder’s initial cost, and certainly bump up a new boat’s price, but without question they save the owners problems and headaches, and of course this ends up saving Freedom time and frustration.

The Yanmar 3GM auxiliary lives under the L-section of the port settee. The shaft exits the transmission and emerges underwater about a foot to port of the keel and at a 5° angle to the centerline.

This engine and shaft placement serves several purposes: First, it creates more room throughout the area of the aft cabin, companionway, and head. Second, it puts the engine’s weight in a better fore-and-aft position without sacrificing much balance athwartships. Third, it makes for very good engine access everywhere but on the engine’s port side, and even that’s not bad. Fourth, it helps concentrate plumbing through-hulls in one zone, under the galley sink. Fifth (and this is the feature touted by Freedom) it’s a built-in correction for “prop walk” when the engine is in reverse — the slight angle of the shaft off centerline helps neutralize the tendency of the left-rotating prop to drag the stern to port.

On deck, sailhandling hardware includes two Harken two-speed winches at the aft end of the cabin trunk, and a Harken traveler. Halyards, reefing lines, main and jib sheets, and traveler controls are led through Lewmar stoppers.

Accommodations Belowdecks the Freedom 35 is laid out to provide good comfort and privacy for two couples, with full cabins fore and aft. Each has standing headroom (6′ 1″) behind closed doors, each is ventilated by two opening ports and a hatch, and all bunks are 6′ 7″ long. There’s room for two more people on the settees in the saloon, and an equipment option that allows the port settee to be converted to a double berth. Underway in standard layout the leeward settee is comfortable, but for sleeping at anchor it makes sense to remove the side cushions for more elbow room.

The saloon has a warm, traditional feel, with varnished cherry cabinets, hull ceilings, and handrails. The cabin sole is teak and holly, while the overhead is covered with a removable vinyl headliner. Headroom throughout the saloon is 6′ 2″.

The cabin table folds up and stows against the bulkhead to port. This opens up lots of valuable space for people to wrestle with bathing suits, foul-weather gear, sleeping bags, duffle bags, grocery bags, and the various other bags that make their way aboard. Stowage for personal gear is good in the fore and aft cabins and adequate in the saloon, where the absence of chainplates or tie-rodes is a help.

The head compartment is to starboard of the companionway steps. This is always a smart arrangement on a single-head boat: It keeps saloon traffic to a minimum and makes use of a wide part of the hull for more space; in this case the compartment includes a separate shower stall with teak grate and a proper wet locker. Stowage for toiletries in the head is adequate; more importantly, with the shower stall isolated there’s less chance for everyone’s stuff to get soaked when someone takes a sloppy shower.

Freedom 35

The L-shaped galley, according to Freedom Yachts, incorporates many features suggested by Freedom owners. There are two deep stainless steel sinks on the counter section athwartships, and a gimballed Force 10 stove/oven to port. The ice chest incorporates a nice touch — a separate section and door for drinks and quick snacks, which allows the main part of the chest (8.5 cubic feet) to stay closed most of the time.

Two PS survey respondents bemoaned the lack of counter space in the galley. This space was surely sacrificed to the enclosed standing room and hanging locker in the aft cabin. On a boat this size, some things have to give, and in this case the working areas below — galley and nav station — gave it up to the head and the private cabins.

There are no standard foot pumps for fresh or salt water in either the galley or the head. With today’s reliance on pressure water systems this omission is commonplace among boatbuilders. Admittedly, it adds expense and labor on the builder’s side, and there may not even be that much demand from buyers — but it’s poor practice, in our view, especially noticeable when batteries or water supplies are low.

Performance Soon after it was introduced we were able to sail the company boat, Hull # 1, in conditions that ranged from about 18 knots to nothing. That boat, rigged with a 120% Mylar genoa, was clearly a fast and nimble performer, particularly in light air and downwind. It’s chief failings were the lack of a dedicated mainsheet winch, and a traveler system that was too small for the loads imposed by the big sail in heavy air. Both of those problems were addressed early in the production run of the boat.

Part of the Freedom 35’s agility comes from the big, light whale-tail rudder; other contributing factors are the balance of the sailplan, the self-tacking jib, and the extra roach on the mainsail, which acts as an airbrake in jibes. With this combination the boat can be spun around upwind or down in a small radius with sails trimmed and locked. It may not be pretty, but it can be done.

As the wind increases, the unsupported tip of the carbon fiber spar will tend to sag to leeward, automatically depowering the sail, but also creating more and more weather helm. The F-35 mainsail needs to be reefed sooner than later — there’s plenty of power left in the roachy main, the boat stands up straighter, the rudder is relieved, and everything speeds up. The boat is “simple to reef with minimal or zero loss of speed,” says one owner. “Very little weather helm in gale warning winds.”

The sail area/displacement ratio of 19.8 on the standard rig is respectable, but there’s an inevitable lack of headsail power upwind in many conditions, no matter how big the main and how closely sheeted the jib. No doubt this is one reason Pedrick increased the size of the foretriangle — not only to increase racing options, but to make life happier for cruising sailors willing to do some cranking in order to punch their way upwind. (Of course, at that point the Freedom’s sailplan loses a substantial measure of its freedom.)

Most F-35s today are sold with the overlapping jib package, says Freedom’s Roe O’Brien, but few are raced actively. (The standard boat carries an average PHRF rating of 114.)

Conclusions Whether or not people race these boats, Dave Pedrick and Freedom certainly have succeeded in their design aims: The Freedom 35 is a comfortable performance cruiser, well built, easily handled, seaworthy, and attractive looking.

With a real voice in design issues from the outset, and the ability to work with the company on semi-customization of new boats, veteran owners are a loyal bunch. “In general, people who buy Freedoms become big devotees,” says O’Brien.

While a new Freedom 35 costs $188,200, second-hand boats cannot be had for a song. The BUC Used Boat Price Guide lists the high and low of the average price for a 1993 model Freedom 35 as $107,000 to $118,000. For a used 1999 model there’s quite a jump: $183,000 to $201,000. These figures reflect actual sale prices of boats, reported by brokers back to the BUC network. A look around for current asking prices showed exactly one boat available, in Stamford, Connecticut, for $149,000. (Not for long, we think.)

Contact- Freedom Yachts, Inc., 305 Oliphant Lane, Middletown, RI 02842 800-999-2909.

Also With This Article Click here to view Owner Comments .


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  1. 2008-NM Lot #16 030 CLARK C-500-Y100 TRIPLE MAST, RUNNER, DUAL TIRES, VIN: Y685-0981-7575K0F, 1273

  2. Climbing the Mast on a sailboat

  3. 2015 Toyota 4000lb Forklift

  4. 2015 Toyota 4000lb Forklift

  5. 2008-NM Lot #16 029 CLARK C-500-Y100 TRIPLE MAST, RUNNER, DUAL TIRES, VIN: Y685-0981-7575K0F, 1273

  6. Apostle Island Sailing Part 1. Sailboat Launch, Mast Raising & Entering the Apostle Islands


  1. Sailboat Mast: A Comprehensive Guide to Understanding and Maintaining

    Sailboat masts come in various configurations, including single-spreader, double-spreader, and even triple-spreader setups. The number of spreaders - horizontal struts that help support the mast - affects overall stability and rigging options.

  2. Triple Spreader Mast

    Dec 2, 2011. #7. Triple spreader rigs are quite uncommon on CRUISING boats with less than a '65ft' (so called ICW) mast. As another poster stated the advantage is 'less weight aloft' (less mast 'stiffness needed) to lessen the 'roll period', to 'pre-bend' as needed for 'high performance' sailing etc. The disadvantage is the high cost and time ...

  3. Deck Stepped vs Keel Stepped Mast

    This distinction refers to the location of the mast step, or where the base of the mast is located. With Keel Stepped, the mast stands on the keel at the bottom of the hull, while Deck Stepped means that the mast stands on the top of the deck. Deck Stepped. The most obvious difference between the two from a livability standpoint is the presence ...

  4. Sailboat Mast Guide: Types, Maintenance, and Upgrades

    Sailboat masts are the unsung heroes of the sailing world, silently supporting the sails and ensuring a smooth journey across the open waters. Whether you're a seasoned sailor or a novice, understanding the intricacies of sailboat masts is essential for a safe and enjoyable voyage. In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the world of ...

  5. PDF Types of Sailing Vessels

    more masts. Bark or Barque A sailing vessel with three or more masts: fore and aft rigged on the aftermast, square rigged on all others. Barkentine A 3-masted sailing vessel with square-rigged sails on foremast only. Brig A 2-masted sailing vessel with both masts square rigged. On the stern-most mast, the main mast, there is also a gaff sail.

  6. Guide to Understanding Sail Rig Types (with Pictures)

    Gaff ketch - two-masted (mizzen), two mainsails, staysails, fore-and-aft rigged. Full-rigged ship or tall ship - three or more masts, mainsail on each mast, staysails, square-rigged. The first word is the shape and rigging of the mainsail. So this is the way the sail is attached to the mast. I'll go into this later on.

  7. Mast for Sailboat: A Comprehensive Guide to Choosing and Maintaining

    Short answer mast for sailboat: The mast is a vertical spar or pole on a sailboat that supports the sails. It plays a crucial role in determining the performance and handling of the boat, as well as providing stability and control. The mast is typically made of aluminum or carbon fiber to provide strength and

  8. Sailboat Mast: Everything You Need To Know

    A sailboat mast is a tall pole that is attached to the deck. It helps secure the sail's length to the boat and upholds the sail's structure. A sailboat mast is the most defining characteristic of a sailboat, helping keep the sail in place. What's amazing about it is that it can even be taller than the vessel's length!

  9. Sailboat Rigging: Blocking and Sealing the Mast Partners

    Stepping the mast on the deck eliminates leaking at the partners. Some consider it a safety issue - with less potential for damage to the deck or interior if the mast breaks. Pulling the mast sideways. On our J/35, the mast is stepped belowdecks and must be supported and sealed at the partners. The best way to do this with any mast is by ...

  10. Sailboat Parts Explained: Illustrated Guide (with Diagrams)

    The mast is the long, standing pole holding the sails. It is typically placed just off-center of a sailboat (a little bit to the front) and gives the sailboat its characteristic shape. The mast is crucial for any sailboat: without a mast, any sailboat would become just a regular boat. The Sails. I think this segment speaks mostly for itself.

  11. Sailing Mast: A Comprehensive Guide to Understanding and Choosing the

    When it comes to sailing, the mast is arguably one of the most crucial components on your boat.It plays a significant role in determining your boat's overall performance and handling characteristics on the water.Therefore, choosing the perfect sailing mast is essential for any sailor looking to optimize their sailing experience.

  12. Full-rigged ship

    Full-rigged sailing ship Christian Radich Full-rigged sailing ship Royal Clipper Amerigo Vespucci, full-rigged ship of the Italian Marina Militare. A full-rigged ship or fully rigged ship is a sailing vessel with a sail plan of three or more masts, all of them square-rigged. Such a vessel is said to have a ship rig or be ship-rigged, with each mast stepped in three segments: lower, top, and ...

  13. The Ultimate Guide to Sail Types and Rigs (with Pictures)

    The 5 most common two-masted rigs are: Lugger - two masts (mizzen), with lugsail (cross between gaff rig and lateen rig) on both masts. Yawl - two masts (mizzen), fore-and-aft rigged on both masts. Main mast much taller than mizzen. Mizzen without mainsail. Ketch - two masts (mizzen), fore-and-aft rigged on both masts.

  14. What is a Sailboat Mast?

    Daniel Wade. June 15, 2022. A sailboat mast is the towering pole mounted to the deck. It attaches the length of the sail to the boat and supports the shape of the sail. Sailboat masts are the most distinct feature of sailing vessels, and they hold the sails in place. Masts are often taller than the length of the boat.

  15. Sailing Terms: Sailboat Types, Rigs, Uses, and Definitions

    Mast configurations and sail combinations are another way of categorizing sailboats. These are just a few of the most common types. Sloop The most common type of sailboat is a sloop. A sloop has one mast and two sails, a mainsail and a headsail. Depending on the size and shape of the headsail, it may be called a jib, genoa or spinnaker.

  16. What Is A Sailboat Mast?

    A sailboat mast is a vertical, upright structure that supports the sails of a sailboat. It is a crucial component of the boat's rigging system and plays a key role in harnessing the power of the wind to propel the vessel. Typically located in the center of the boat, the mast extends upward from the deck or hull.

  17. Raising the Mast of a Small Sailboat with The Resourceful Sailor

    After a rig refit, the mast of Sampaguita, a Pacific Seacraft Flicka 20, was ready to be raised. Still in her Port Townsend slip, the process was, generally, the opposite of lowering, presented in 'Lectronic Latitude on June 16, 2021 — Lowering the Mast on a Small Sailboat with The Resourceful Sailor. It required the same bridle setup.

  18. What Mast Rake is All About

    The majority of modern boats have their mast raked between 0.75 and 1.5 degrees, with 2 to 2.5 degrees being the conventional upper limit. Some references suggest that fractional rigs should have about twice the rake of a masthead rig, say, 2 to 3 degrees vs. 1 to 2 degrees. Rake is determined and set during design and can help in getting the ...

  19. Freedom 35

    With 85 hulls built to date, Freedom Yachts of Middletown, Rhode Island counts the Dave Pedrick-designed 35-footer as a solid success story. Freedom currently builds sailboats in three sizes, at 35, 40, and 45 feet, as well as the Legacy line of powerboats. The sailboat line stakes its identity on three points: sound naval architecture, high ...

  20. The top 10 largest sailing yachts in the world

    Discover the largest sailing yachts in the global superyacht fleet: 143m Sailing Yacht A, 106m Black Pearl, 93m EOS and many more.

  21. My Daum Crystal Sailboats

    DAUM'S SAILBOATS. Daum made three different Sailboats designs. The "Regate" was a racing sloop, while the other sailboats were more generic. The single mast design shows a highly curved mast. The three masted sailboat design changed over the years from a 8" tall boat with curved masts, to a 10" tall boat with straighter masts.

  22. My Daum Crystal Triple Mast Sailboat

    General Information: "Petite Voilier" One of Daum's Sailboats is a 10" tall triple masted boat. This boat was very popular and was the first Daum piece I ever purchased. The older versions of this piece were only 8" tall, and had more curvature to the masts.

  23. Vintage DAUM France Crystal 12" Tall Sailboat Sculpture Figurine ...

    Up for sale I am offering this vintage crystal sculpture in the form of a sailboat produced in France by Daum. The sailboat measures approx. : 12" in height X 9.75" wide X 2.75" deep. It is signed on the wall of the base: DAUM FRANCE. Much better looking in person and sure to please and to enhance any serious art glass collection.