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The Flying Jib - WOW's 'Secret Weapon'

7th July 2019
The flying jib set on Wow The flying jib set on Wow

The XP44 'WOW' stormed home to win the Coastal Class of Sovereigns Cup 2019 this month. The prize giving ensued after which began the bar talk debrief of the week between sailors from all boats writes Graham Curran of UK Sailmakers Ireland.

Some of this chat focused on WOW’s ‘secret weapon’ – her Flying Jib (FJ).

Flying Jibs, although new to Irish waters, have become common sights on offshore and coastal racers worldwide over the last couple of years. An FJ provides speed and stability while filling a tricky gap in the sail inventory between code zero and heavy reaching spinnaker. So what is involved? And what are the tangible benefits?

Flying Jib WowXP44 “WOW” with her Uni-Titanium Flying Jib deployed. Photo: UK Sailmakers Ireland

Bow Down; Power On

A common issue with a modern non-overlapping sail plan is an 'unbalance' when broad reaching – sometimes resulting in a broach to windward. This usually occurs when the breeze is up. Imagine broad reaching in 18 knots – you are too tight and pressed to hold your code zero, but not deep enough to set your A5 heavy reacher – so what do you do? Two sail the leg with your jib and main (hopefully with the jib on an outboard lead). At this point the boat is out of balance – the headsail will never produce as much power in front of the rig as the mainsail does behind it – unbalanced.

flying Jib UK Sails

Enter the Flying Jib

Flown off a bowsprit, to clear the forestay, the flying jib adds additional sail area to the front of the boat, encouraging the bow down. This extra force counteracts the power of the mainsail – thus balancing the boat. More than just sail area, the flying jib also creates a third ‘slot’ in the sail plan. More slots equals more power. More power, when correctly balanced, equals more speed.

This advantage became very apparently off Kinsale last Friday when WOW, trailing her bigger sister FREYA, was able to close the distance and catch the opposition with her flying jib deployed. The flying jib gave WOW an extra 1.5 knots of boat speed.

Ease of Use, Plug and Play

WOW’s flying jib and code zero are both set on anti-torsion cables which plug into her Ubi Maior ratchet furler. Both sails can be ready to hoist in seconds, quickly deployed, and safely recovered with the ratchet action of the furler preventing accidental deployment.

The sail is designed to sheet to the same point as the code zero so no additional sheets or hardware are needed. It is very much a complementary plug and play sail system.

WOW was the only boat in her fleet with a flying jib – she is equipped with a versatile modern performance sail plan for optimum sailing on all points of sail – bring your sail plan into the future with a UK Sailmakers Flying Jib.

uksails topper

About the Loft

UK Sailmakers Ireland brings modern professional sailmaking to Irish Sailing.​ Formerly known as McWilliam Sailmakers; the company was started 47 years ago to bring the latest technology to Irish sailors - we continue this mission today.

Under new leadership in 2018; our loft is dedicated to fulfilling the needs of all Irish sailors. ​As sailmakers we do not just design sails for boats. We design and build sails for your boat. Our extensive and versatile product line allows us to produce sails to suit your requirements and expectations.   

​As a core loft within the UK Sailmakers Group we are uniquely placed to draw from a worldwide pool of knowledge and experience - these ties have been recently strengthened with the return of Barry Hayes and Claire Morgan from Hong Kong. ​Barry held a key role in our primary production facility on Hong Kong Island for the past fifteen years. With their return comes a renewed focus on technology R&D on Irish waters.  

​With a wide variety of sailing conditions and a impressive pool of talent the Irish cruiser racing fleet is the ideal test bed for new technologies.​ 

​As with all things in sailing; the secrets will be closely guarded - but for the first time in decades Irish sailors will be at the forefront of sail technology development.​

Although much has changed; some constants remain. The same great sail and customer service we have provided in the past will continue, as does our commitment and passion for growing the sport of sailing all over the country. 


Barry Hayes [email protected]

Graham Curran [email protected]

Claire Morgan [email protected]

Mark Mansfield [email protected]

Yannick Lemonnier [email protected] 

Andrew Steenson [email protected] 

Contact Information:

UK Sailmakers Ireland

Hoddersfield Mill


County Cork

P43 EY26

Republic of Ireland

Tel: +353 21 4831505

Fax: +353 21 4831700

Email: [email protected]

Graham Curran

About The Author

Graham Curran

Email The Author

Graham Curran is a sailmaker and director of UK Sails Ireland

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