The Headsail or Foresail

headsail or working jib as part of the Simbo safe downwind sail plan.


The genoa appears 'de rigueur' for most sailors today however, I prefer the working jib for the open sea particularly when used in conjunction with the 'Simbo Rig'. It is more manageable, less prone to bury the bow in a seaway and provides substantially better forward vision.

For the genoa aficionados though, a smaller foresail which can be set on an inner forestay to take over from the genoa in fresh to strong winds is essential. Once a headsail has been furled by more than 30% of its original area, it not only becomes inefficient but increases healing angle and leeway.

In either case, I would advise replacing the snap shackle on the forestay car with a stout conventional shackle to which you can attach the head of the foresail with a dyneema/spectra line. In the past I have been let down by metal fatigue in the swiveling snapshackle resulting in the headsail dropping into the sea.

This normally happens when fighting to weather in a seaway!

  Re-run the jib sheets inside the cap shroud from the clew for a closer sheeting angle; to keep the downwind jib clew in position whilst re-running its leeward sheet, temporarily constrain it with the weather sheet.

A Simbo Rig will provide one with considerable ‘on wind’ benefits in re-trimming the sails, adjusting the loaded sheet cars and when heave-to.


One can rest the upwind leeward jib on the downwind jib to re-route the jib sheet from outside to inside the cap shroud for a closer sheeting angle and then on tightening up, the blanketed downwind jib/sheet can be re-routed. The converse applies on subsequently bearing away onto a reach. Similarly, by resting the upwind jib on the downwind jib its loaded sheet car can be adjusted under sail without loss of drive or flogging sails followed on tightening up, by the downwind blanketed jib sheet car. Very useful after shortening the sails in strong weather and also on bearing away to a broad reach.

Finally, one can sheet both jibs to their respective sides on heaving-to, to deal with the boat accidentally tacking through the wind when it will then lay heave-to on the other tack. Initially all the sheets are likely to be running outside the cap shrouds which may cause them to wear if heave-to for a period of time. In this situation on first heaving-to, re-route the backed blanketed weather jib/sheet inside the cap shroud followed on tightening up, by its backed upwind jib/sheet twin whilst the sail rests on the downwind jib. Having tightened the upwind jib/sheet inside the cap shroud then re-run the two leeward sheets inside the leeward cap shroud following which you can release the backed blanketed weather jib/sheet and haul it in to leeward to deal with the yacht accidentally tacking through the wind. Voila!

Simbo Foresail and headsail rig

The advent of the furling forestay though has been a boon to the short handed cruising sailor which when used in conjunction with the inmast furling mainsail can give one complete control from the safety of the cockpit.


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