Different Parts Of A Sail And Their Uses

4 Different Parts Of A Sail And Their Uses

Sailing offers a wonderful and relaxing experience. Personally, I enjoy using my sail to unwind, especially during breathtaking sunsets.

While sailing helps me relax, it also keeps me engaged. I often find myself occupied with the maintenance of my sail. Contrary to popular belief, sails do require regular maintenance to prevent potential issues, such as stalling at sea.

To ensure proper maintenance, it is essential to understand the five key parts of a sail and their respective functions. Discover the different parts of a sail below along with their specific uses.

Different Parts of a Sail


The keel is a wedge-shaped blade located beneath the sail. It is often likened to a spinal cord in humans.

The spinal cord keeps the backbone straight and supports the entire body.

Therefore, the keel is the backbone of the vessel.

It serves two roles; ensuring the sail moves on a straight course and keeps the sail vertical.

For the former role, it prevents the sail from sailing sideways during a windy season.

As for the latter role, it prevents the vessel from capsizing.


It is a vertical pole that extends from the ship outwards.

A mast needs to be as high as possible to harness energy from the wind.

Its role is thus to propel the sail using wind.

Aside from propelling the ship, it can also be used to support flags.

If you have watched pirate-based films, you may have noticed pirates use a black flag depicting a skull.


It makes up the majority of a sail’s structure.

You can consider it as a shell since it protects its inhabitant(s) from external threats.

Some of the external threats include water and predators such as sharks.

It is made from steel which keeps the sail water-tight.

Imagine, if the hull was made from a spongy material. It would absorb water.

Seeing water in a sail is a bad sign since it means the sail will sink at any moment.


The boom is a horizontal pole found at the base of the mast.

It serves as a support for the sail and it swings from side to side.

You can swing the boom towards or away from the wind.

Its role is therefore to increase or decrease the sail’s speed.


Its role is to steer the sail.

It is a blade appendage that is mounted on the stern of the ship.

The rudder turns side to side. However, its movement is controlled by a helm.

Whenever a sail moves forward, it increases friction on one side of the sail so that it can change course.

It is not uncommon for rudders to break off from the ship.

Very few sailors notice this phenomenon. To prevent that from happening, the keel protects the rudder.

However, it is possible to sail your ship without one.

You will need to balance the weight of items in the sail to change direction.

Different Parts Of A Ships Sail

You have now understood a bit about how the sail’s parts work.

Certain parts of a ship may fool you into thinking they are for decoration; such as a mast.

However each part is useful, so you need to ensure they work well in case you decide to get yourself a sail.


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igor desperatesailors

Hi, I’m Igor, Skipper of S/Y "The Hooker". A decade ago, I conquered my childhood dream: to be a sailing skipper, own a sailing yacht. Yes, it knocked dullness out of my urban life — Read more →

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