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Ask SAIL: Do Without a Bolt Rope?


Note the white outhaul strap near the end of the boom with this loose-footed main

Note the white outhaul strap near the end of the boom with this loose-footed main

Q: In one of your recent Ask Sail responses, you wrote about loose-footed mainsails. I have an S2 7.9 that has a rope-footed main. Since I’m just cruising and not racing, could I just leave the rope out of the track and sail it as though it were loose-footed, or am I asking for trouble?

— Marc Marschark, via


You have a boltrope on the foot of your main that threads into a groove on your boom. There are a couple of things to think about. You can definitely fly it loose-footed, and as you probably read in the other article, there are quite a few advantages to doing so, including more control over sail shape. However, there needs to be a fairly substantial outhaul car to attach the outhaul to in order for this to work. I say fairly substantial because the load on the foot of the sail when it’s in the groove is much less than when it goes directly onto the car alone. I suspect in your case the car might not be up to the task, but don’t worry. You can ask your sailmaker to make you an outhaul strap, basically a length of webbing with Velcro sewn onto it that you loop around the boom and through the clew of the main. The Velcro binds to itself, and you will be surprised at how strong Velcro is in sheer: plenty strong, in fact, to take the load off the outhaul car. You even can remove the outhaul car entirely if you like, and attach the outhaul directly to the clew of the sail. Beyond that, the issue is one of aesthetics. Having the boltrope still running along the foot of the main may make the sail look a bit clunky. It shouldn’t cost much, though, to have your sailmaker trim it off and add a foot tape.

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