Square Top Mainsail Rigging


Last Updated on September 13, 2023 by Amy

When we got our boat from the factory, we had ordered it with a square-top mainsail.

Square-top versus Pinhead

The “standard” sail in a pinhead sail, which is shaped like a triangle.

A square-top sail is a trapezoid shape. The foot is wide and has a 90-degree angle on the front corner. The head is flat and parallel to the foot.

This shape dramatically increases the size of your mainsail. While it is heavier, it makes up for it in improved performance.

The downside to a square-top mainsail is that the rigging gets more complicated.

Rigging a Square-top Mainsail

When we purchased our boat, Fountaine Pajot was not offering the option to rig an automatic square-top mainsail. However, Lagoon, manufactured not far from La Rochelle, was.

The sails were being made by Incidence, so while in La Rochelle we had them come pick up our sail to fit the automatic rig.

Normally, you have to detach the halyard (line that pulls the mainsail up) from the head of the sail in order to get the sail to go all the way down.  Incidence rigs a system that allows the head of the sail to pull away from the mast while it is being lowered, without detaching anything.  Incidences took the mainsail off Starry Horizons and installed it back on the same day! 

Squaretop Rigging
Squaretop Rigging

The tackle line (B) is made out of Dyneema, and when in Grenada (after a year and a half of sailing) I used Dyneema to splice my own replacement for the tackle line. When splicing this line, you don’t have to be exact because of the lashing (D).

Further Reading

A really technical article on square top v pinhead from Saphire.


  1. Love your checklist; I am an engineer too and love the organization! We have already reapplied your medicine checklist. Many thanks!

  2. Hi guys, just wondering if you have a place dedicated for the outboard when on passage, or will you leave attached to tender
    Cheers Jeff.

    1. Hey Jeff,

      We’re going to try storing the outboard in the genset locker. We’ve been saving some foam and cardboard and will try to secure it down so it can’t bash into anything. That is likely a project for tomorrow and once completed, we’ll take pictures.

      As for your request about the oven pic, please see our newest post. I just updated it with a picture that hopefully shows the location you’re asking about. If you need something else, let us know and we’ll take another pic.


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