What Size Headsail Do I Want?



For technical questions about sails, please email to:info@bwyachts.com

For most MacGregor and Venture models we offer both 100% Jibs and 150% Genoas. We will make recommendations as to which is likely the best option for each specific model, your sailing style, and the wind conditions you sail in most. We do not offer 130% or 135% Genoas, as these in-between sized sails simply do not work well on any of these boats because the mast shrouds are attached all the way out at the hull. The wide shroud base makes it impossible to properly sheet these in between sized sails for proper upwind sailing.

For most models we offer both hank on and roller furling sails. All furling sails can be reefed (by rolling them up part way) for windier conditions, but a reefed sail will not have as good sail shape as a smaller sail used full size.


The majority of MacGregor boats sold since the mid 1990's are already equipped with roller furling systems. Fewer older boats came equipped with furling, but some have be retroffited. Until 2007 most used the CDI FF-2, after that most use a new furler built in house by MacGregor (this system fits the 26M only), and a few may have Schaefer Snapfurl (originally built using a CDI patent license). All of these systems work well and are very reliable, but each has it's strengths and weaknesses. If you are considering purchasing a furler, feel free to contact us at info@bwyachts.com to discuss which would be best for you. All of these systems use the same sails.

PROS: The two obvious advantages of furling are the ability to roll and unroll the sail without having to leave the cockpit at all, and the ability to roll the sail up partway (reef it) to better match sail size to the conditions as the wind increases. Roller furling makes sailing easier, safer and less stressful. A furling 150% Genoa can be rolled down to the size of a working jib or storm jib and a 100% Jib can be rolled down to a storm jib, eliminating the need for a sometimes challenging trip to the foredeck to change or lower sails in windy conditions. Our offshore grade Jibs and Genoas feature a foam luff pad which helps the sail keep proper shape when reefed, although there is a small penalty in sail shape when not reefed. In general we do not recommend a foam luff other than for true offshore sailing.

CONS: While not dramatic, having a furler on the boat does make mast raising a little harder because it adds a few pounds of weight. This is especially true if you don't use the mast raising system. While modern furlers are very reliable if properly installed, anything mechanical can fail or jam, although containing a sail on a jammed furler is not much harder than containing a hank-on sail on a windy day. A larger sail reefed down will not have as good shape as a smaller sail used full size, so if optimum performance is an issue to you, you still have to make the Jib VS. Genoa decision.

100% JIB:

PROS: Very easy to tack, only a few feet of sheet needs to be moved in each tack, with a little practice you shouldn't even need to use the winches at all. Because this sail sheets to the tracks or leads (depending on model) inside the shrouds on the cabin top, they can sheet very close to the wind, which allows you to pull the Mainsail in tighter as well. Most MacGregor boats will point as much as 4 to 5 degrees closer to the wind with a Jib than a Genoa. This is a HUGE increase in upwind efficiency and greatly reduces how many tacks it will take to get upwind.

CONS: Will not give as much power as a 150% Genoa in light wind. Upwind, the loss of power is more than made up for by the improvement in pointing ability in all but very light wind on most models. Downwind and reaching the difference is more noticeable in light and even moderate winds. The decreased downwind performance is more likely to cause a desire for a spinnaker.

130% or 135% GENOA: (The sail we don't sell)

PROS: There really aren't any. Often these sails are sold as "smaller and easier to handle than a 150% Genoa" but that really isn't true. Having a slightly smaller sail doesn't help much because you are still sheeting around the outside of the shrouds.

CONS: While in theory these sails provide a balance of the advantages of the Jib and 150% Genoa, in practice, on all Macgregor and Venture models (as well as a lot of other boats) these sails really don't do anything well. They must be sheeted outside the mast shrouds so they aren't easy to tack, but unlike the 150% Genoa, these sails do not extend far enough past the shrouds to wrap around them, so they are VERY limited in their ability to sail close to the wind. With a 150% Genoa, the shrouds fall into the "pocket" of the sail so you can pull the sail in much closer. While you will get a little more power reaching and downwind than a 100% Jib, it's not enough to make up for the disadvantages.

150% GENOA:

PROS: Gives the most power in light wind, this is most noticeable when reaching or sailing downwind. Some models need this added power more than others. For some sailors the improved downwind performance of the 150% Genoa is enough to eliminate the desire for a Spinnaker.

CONS: Doesn't sheet in as close to the wind as a 100% Jib when sailing upwind, which requires that you not sheet the mainsail in as far either to keep proper balance. Much more work to tack than a 100% Jib because you have to drag it past the shrouds, around in front of the mast, and all the way back on the other side. In all but very light wind it will always need to be winched in to sail upwind. Some people re-run the sheets on the 150% Genoa to lead between the shrouds if you are sailing it reefed to improve pointing ability upwind. This does help a little, but not even close to the pointing gain from the 100% Jib.


MACGREGOR 26M: The 26M has a taller mast and larger mainsail than any other trailerable Mac model and a hull that has lower drag than the 26X, as a result most people find the 100% Jib to be the preferred headsail. If you frequently sail in very light wind, less than 5 or 6 knots, you might want to consider the 150% Genoa. The optimum performance configuration for this boat in most wind conditions is a 100% Jib for upwind and an asymmetrical Spinnaker for downwind sailing.

MACGREGOR 26X: The 26X will point better upwind with a 100% Jib, but it takes more wind to make up for the added power of the 150% Genoa than it does on the 26M. If you often sail in less than 8 or 9 knots of wind and are more concerned with performance than convenience, you may be happier with the 150% Genoa.

MACGREGOR 26 Classic (Daggerboard or Swing Centerboard): These boats sail well with either headsail, so look at the pros and cons above to help make your decision. As a general rule, light wind sailors (less than 6 or 7 knots) would probably prefer the 150% Genoa.

MACGREGOR 25 / VENTURE 25: These boats sail well with either headsail, so look at the pros and cons above to help make your decision. As a general rule, light wind sailors (less than 6 or 7 knots) would probably prefer the 150% Genoa.

VENTURE 24 / 224: These boats have a longer boom and larger mainsail than other early models so they don't need the sail area of the 150% Genoa other than for very light wind.

MACGREGOR 22 / VENTURE 22 / 222: These boats have a shorter (24') mast than the larger models and are masthead rigged (the headstay goes all the way to the top of the mast) so the headsail is a larger portion of the total sail area. The difference between the 100% Jib and the 150% Genoa will be a little more than it would on the boats with larger mainsails, there will be a bigger gain in light wind performance with the 150% Genoa.

MACGREGOR 21 / VENTURE 21: These boats have almost as much sail area as the 22, but are much lighter, they really don't need a 150% Genoa other than for racing, although they make great little race boats if you want to go that direction. Early model V21s had a simple 3 wire rig with no spreaders and the headstay only about 3/4 of the way up to the masthead. These boats were not rigged to run a 150% Genoa, just a 100% Jib which was very small due to the short headstay.

MACGREGOR 19: The 19 is a stiff, stable boat with a fair amount of hull drag and smallish rudders, it wants all the sail power you can put on it. Unless you sail in a very high wind area, almost everyone prefers the balance and performance of the boat with the 150% Genoa. Some very early 1992 models had a simple 3 wire rig with no spreaders and the headstay only about 3/4 of the way up to the masthead. Few of these boats were rigged to run a 150% Genoa, just a tiny 100% Jib. Many of these boats have been re-rigged to the newer masthead rig with spreaders. Sheet winches were an option on the 19, if your boat doesn't have winches on the cabin top, you will need to add them to use a 150% Genoa.

VENTURE 17: This is a small lightweight boat, very few people find the need for a 150% Genoa.