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How To Set a Storm Jib

Anyone planning on sailing offshore needs to carry storm sails. In order for these sails to help you in storm conditions, practice setting them in light air first to learn how to hoist and trim them. Then go out in winds over 25 knots to get experience in conditions closer to gale force winds. One day, in the middle of the ocean, you’ll be glad you became familiar with these orange sails that almost never see the light of day.

This video covers how to set a storm jib in stops. The key to this system is that it controls the sail until it’s broken-out so that the clew and its sheets won’t whip around and hurt the person trying to set the sail. This method works for sails with luff tapes as well as ones with hanks.

Let’s start by reviewing the elements of a storm jib. Any new storm sail you buy today will be made out of a heavy-weight orange dacron so that it stands out in big waves and grey stormy conditions.


The two sheets should always be pre-attached, as well as a pre-sized tack pennant to position the sail above the waves and high enough to sheet properly. If the sail uses a luff tape that goes into a headstay foil, the sail is also required to have an alternative means of attachment to the headstay in case the foil fails. Three alternative attachment methods are:  permanently soft shackles, velcro straps or ties.

Now, here is how to pack a storm jib in stops.

  • First, fold the clew forward of the luff so that the fold is parallel to the luff.
  • Next roll the folded part of the sail forward to the luff. 
  • Finally, tie up the rolled sail with yarn that will break away. It’s important to tie these yarns around the rolled sail, and through the grommets in the luff. If the sail has a luff tape, make sure the yarn does not go around the luff tape or you won’t be able to get the sail into the headstay foil.
  • When you are finished, the sail will look like a long cigar.
  • Next fold the sail back and forth on top of itself so that the head will be on top. Make the folds small enough that the sail will fit into the bag.

The yarn stops will keep the sail rolled and controlled until one of the jib sheets is tightened, which makes the bow safer for the crew working on the foredeck.

If you are using a headstay foil, lash the head and tack to the forestay. You can do this with spare sail ties or pieces of Spectra line. If you don’t lash these corners, the sail can pull out of the luff foil.

Once you have practiced in light to moderate conditions, go out in 25-30 knots as the team on Triple Lindy did. Notice how the foredeck conditions are much more trying than on a calm day. Also notice that, when bending on the sail, they did not stop the sail below the jib’s clew and it is flailing around.


One final note relates to setting the height of the storm jib’s tack. The proper tack height is determined by two requirements. First, is should be high enough so that the sail will avoid filling with breaking waves. The second, is to get the sheeting angle right. The LP of the storm jib is very short and, if you tack the sail to the deck, the clew will be too far forward of the jib track to sheet properly. You need to raise the tack high enough so that you trim the storm jib to the same lead car position that you sheet your No. 3 or No. 4. In that way, you eliminate the need to move the jib lead when you change to the storm jib. That’s another reason why it is important to set the sail in moderate conditions to learn what pennant height is correct and sheeting angle.

If you have questions on storm jibs or storm trysails, contact UK Sailmakers. You will also find video information about storm sails in the How To section of UK Sailmakers’ website.

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