How to Raise Your Foresail with a Pendant

Would you like to see forward around your foresail better? Do you hate the stains that you get on the tack of your foresail where it rubs over your supposedly “stainless” steel pulpit? A foresail pennant will help you out on both counts. It’s a simple little thing to add to your rigging that will make you wonder why you didn’t think of it before.

A foresail pennant is simply a short cable about two feet long that you attach between the tack of your foresail and the stem shackle where you normally attach the tack. You also want to hank the tack to the forestay with a shackle or a carabiner to harden the foot of the sail. When you hoist the foresail, it lets the foresail rise up off the deck a short distance and clear of the pulpit. From the cockpit, this lets you see under the foresail. If you’re heeling much, though, you’ll only see the water. The foresail can also tack from side to side without polishing your pulpit in the process.

The only downsides that I’m aware of are:

  • It doesn’t work with a furler.
  • It raises the center of effort of the foresail almost the length of the pennant. In most conditions, this isn’t a significant factor or it can be compensated for by trimming the sail appropriately. On the other hand, you can always take it off if you want to and secure the foresail tack normally.
  • It only works with foresails that do not hoist all of the way to the masthead. Some genoas, for example, may be too tall to use a pennant. The C-22’s standard 110 jib takes a pennant easily with headroom to spare.
Top of pennant clipped to the forestay
Top of pennant clipped to the forestay

Your favorite sail maker or rigger will gladly make you a pennant but they’re not hard to make yourself.

Hankerin’ for a hunk of steel

First, hank on the foresail that you want to add the pennant to but without attaching the tack to the stem fitting. Then hoist it an inch or two above the top of the pulpit. Measure the distance between the tack shackle at the stem and the tack grommet in the sail. Make your finished pennant this length. The cable diameter should be at least the same as the sail’s luff cable.

Buy a piece of stainless steel cable that length plus a few inches on each end to swage eyes. I cut a piece from a retired shroud. At your West Marine or other marine supply business that will let you borrow their swaging bench, purchase a stainless steel thimble for each end and two Nicropress sleeves for each end.

Make eyes in both ends of the pennant using the crimping tool at the swaging bench. West Marine doesn’t allow its employees to swage cable for its customers, presumably due to liability reasons, but they will help you if you need it to do the job yourself.

Here are some tips for a strong connection:

  • Make three evenly spaced crimps in each sleeve
  • Be sure the cable is tight around the thimble before crimping
  • Position the first sleeve tight against the thimble
  • Position the second sleeve tight against the first
  • Leave 1/4″ of cable exposed after the second sleeve

After you build the pennant, cover the exposed cable ends and the sleeves with rigging tape or shrink tubing. I also cut a piece of shroud cover to fit over the exposed cable to further avoid chafing.

While you’re at it, consider making extra pennants such as for an outboard motor safety lanyard.

Bottom of the pennant attached to the stem snap shackle
Bottom of the pennant attached to the stem snap shackle

Attach the pennant to the foresail as shown in these pictures and you’re done. There’s nothing different that you need to do to raise, trim, or lower your foresail. You can leave the pennant attached to the sail when you take the sail off or leave the pennant attached to the stem fitting and use it with other sails.

The Bottom Line

Suggested price: n/a
$tingy Sailor cost: $4
Savings: n/a


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