A sloop is a sailboat with a single mast[1] typically having only one headsail in front of the mast and one mainsail aft of (behind) the mast.[note 1] Such an arrangement is called a fore-and-aft rig, and can be rigged as a Bermuda rig with triangular sails fore and aft, or as a gaff-rig with triangular foresail(s) and a gaff rigged mainsail. Sailboats can be classified according to type of rig, and so a sailboat may be a sloop, catboat, cutter, ketch, yawl, or schooner.[2] A sloop usually has only one headsail, although an exception is the Friendship sloop, which is usually gaff-rigged with a bowsprit and multiple headsails.[3] If the vessel has two or more headsails, the term cutter may be used,[2] especially if the mast is stepped further towards the back of the boat.

Typical Bermuda-rigged sloop
Sloop sail plan showing crossjack, swallow-footed square-rigged topsail, save-all sail, topgallant sail, ringtail sail, gaff topsail, mainsail, and watersail, as well as foresail, jib, and flying jib

When going before the wind, a sloop may carry a square-rigged topsail which will be hung from a topsail yard and be supported from below by a crossjack. This sail often has a large hollow foot, and this foot is sometimes filled with yet another quadrilateral square rigged sail called a "save-all topsail."[4]

The name originates from the Dutch sloep, which is related to the Old English slūpan, to glide.[5] In naval terminology, "sloop-of-war" refers to the purpose of the craft, rather than to the specific size or sail-plan, and thus a sloop should not be confused with a sloop-of-war.

After the cat rig which has only a single sail,[6] the Bermuda rig is the simplest sailing rig configurations. It is the most popular yacht rigging[7] because it is easier to sail with a smaller crew or even single-handed, it is cheaper since it has less hardware than more complex rigs, and it sails well into the wind. A limitation is that when a boat gets over 45 feet in length (approximately 13.7 meters), the sails become so large that they are difficult to handle,[6] although modern technology is helping with this through the use of electric winches and furling systems.

The headsail can be masthead-rigged or fractional-rigged. On a masthead-rigged sloop, the forestay (on which the headsail is carried) attaches at the top of the mast. On a fractional-rigged sloop, the forestay attaches to the mast at a point below the top. A sloop may use a bowsprit, a spar that projects forward from the bow.

See alsoEdit

  • Mast aft rig, a single mast rig with a mast further back than a sloop or cutter.
  • Chialoup, an historical type of sloop produced in the East Indies.
  • Bermuda sloop, originally used for a type of sea-going, sloop-rigged vessel. Today used for any Bermuda-rigged sloop.
  • Bermuda Fitted Dinghy: a scaled-down sloop used for racing in Bermuda.
  • Hope: an example of a traditional sail-powered oyster-dredging sloop.


  1. ^ A sloop may also carry several square-rigged sails including a crossjack, topsail, save-all topsail, and top gallant sail, as well as a gaff-rigged topsail on the main mast and a jib and flying jib ahead of the headsail.


  1. ^ "SLOOP | meaning in the Cambridge English Dictionary". dictionary.cambridge.org. Retrieved 2019-05-12.
  2. ^ a b "Cutter | sailing craft". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 2019-05-12.
  3. ^ Jones, Gregory O. (2001-12-06). The American Sailboat. MBI Publishing Company. ISBN 978-0-7603-1002-1.
  4. ^ Samuel Fallows (1885). Progressive Dictionary of the English Language. Progressive. p. 148.
  5. ^ "Sloop". dictionary.com. Retrieved 12 May 2019.
  6. ^ a b "What's in a Rig? Cat Rig". American Sailing Association. 30 October 2015. Retrieved 12 May 2019.
  7. ^ "Sailboat Rig Types: Sloop, Cutter, Ketch, Yawl, Schooner, Cat". Jordan Yacht and Ship Co. 13 January 2011. Retrieved 12 May 2019.

External linksEdit