Tips for Rigging a Sailboat

The rigging of a sailboat includes the standing rigging and the running rigging. The standing rigging consists of the wire stays and shrouds that support the mast, and the sails, while the running rigging is the assortment of ropes or sheets used to control and adjust the sails. Rigging a sailboat is the process of preparing the sails for use. There is definite order to the process which must be closely followed for the best results. Sailing involves a series of repetitive actions that must be learned backwards and forwards. Experience on a boat is way to gain this knowledge.

Rigging Sequence

Before you set out from the dock, you must prepare the sails for hoisting. You will prepare both the mainsail and the jib. Once both are prepared, you will hoist the mainsail first to help get you out into open water then you will raise the jib. For proper sailboat rigging, consider the following tips.

  • Jib Sail Preparation: Remove the jib sail from its stowage bag below deck and place it on the foredeck at the bow of the boat. The jib attaches to the headstay with what are known as hanks. They are small fasteners that slide along the headstay. The hanks are already on the jib sail, so attach them one on top of the next to the headstay. You can detect the top hank, for it is closest to the head of the jib–the part of the sail at the smallest angle. Once attached to the headstay, attach the jib halyard to the head. To the clew–or the rear corner eyelet–tie both jib sheets using a knot called the bowline. Lead the sheets to the cockpit of the vessel and wind them around the winches, tying the ends loosely to the lifelines to keep them out of the way.

  • Mainsail Preparation: After the jib is set upon the foredeck ready to go and waiting to be hoisted, it is time to prepare the mainsail–which will be hoisted first. The sequence is as follows: remove the sail cover and stow it neatly below deck. If the mainsail is already on the boom but is folded around it, leave it how it is, except you must attach the head of the sail to the main halyard. Uncoil and remove the mainsheet from its cleat. Lastly, loosen the boom vang.

  • Proper Place for Jib Sail: Before you leave the dock but after the jib sail is attached, lash it to the side of the boat opposite from the dock. To do this, you can use a small line to tie the jib sail to the lifeline. If the wind picks up, it won’t blow the jib sail into the dock.

  • Prevent Jib Sail Creep: In strong wind, the jib sail might start to climb up the headstay before it’s time. To prevent this, detach the top hank of the sail and hook it to the lifeline. This way the sail won’t be able to climb even if it is windy.

Now that the rigging is in place and the sails are ready to hoist (but prevented from rising with the wind), you can leave the dock and get into open water. Hoist the mainsail first and trim it to increase your speed. When it is clear, untie the jib sail and hoist it, trimming it afterwards and catching wind.