What’s in a Rig? The Sloop

By: Equipment

What’s in a Rig Series #1

Here at ASA, we love sailing and how anyone chooses to make that happen is all good. That said, let’s delve into and check out the many way there are to make a sailboat go forward. Let’s look at the rigs. Today we begin our series, What’s in a Rig discussing the many ways to assemble lines, wires, sticks and sails so the wind can be harnessed and you can make your way around the bay, to the island, around the world? First up, what many of us sail – the Sloop Rig.

A sloop rig is a boat with a single-mast and a fore and aft sail configuration. Sloops date back to the early 17th century but didn’t really become popular until the 20th century. The likely reason for their popularity is their ability to effectively head up wind and how relatively simple they are to control – great for short-handing.

With the emergence of recreational sailing, where smaller boats were being crewed by fewer people, the sloop rig was a natural and logical choice. Once boats get over 45-feet, however, the sloop rig choice may get questioned since the sails on larger vessels with sloop rigs can get so big they are hard to manage. However these days, technology is providing solutions that keep this arrangement the go-to rig for most modern sailors.

Other advantages of a sloop rig are economic. Compared to rigs with more masts and thereby more rigging, the sloop’s simpler plan allows for fewer wires (standing rigging) and less costs associated with maintenance and replacement. This also means less sails…theoretically. The base sail plan requires just two sails, but lots of sailors end up buying spinnakers, gennakers, genoas, wind-seekers, storm jibs and anything else they can use to provide maximum efficiency. But! The sloop could chosen for its economic benefits.

So, that’s the overview of the sloop. It’s the rig most of us think of when we picture a modern sailboat, but it is certainly not the only choice.  Next up, the Cutter Rig.

Photo Pat Reynolds

What's in a Rig Series: