Top 5 Mainsails for Sailing- Boat Specific & For Cruising


A sailboat requires direction, speed and ability to sustain itself against the strong winds throughout the journey. In doing so, a greater role is played by the sailboat’s headsail and mainsail. That’s because of the aerodynamics that the sailboat uses when the wind blows into the sail, almost forming a wing, since the mainsail is fastened to the boom and the mast. The position of the headsail however depends on its type, whether it’s a Jib, Genoa or a Spinnaker.


The first sail that one can see on the sailboat is called the head sail and the one behind it and the largest one is the mainsail.  The head sail, depending on its type is classified into Jib, Genoa and Spinnaker. Some of them function only in certain sailing conditions. However, the focus here is on mainsails, and as the name suggests, the mainsail is the most important sail in a sailboat. Therefore, there is a sheer need to do the necessary research before buying one.

RatingI.DModelFeaturesCompare Prices
#1Mecgregor 22 sailMacGregor 22 Models and Venture 222
UV Resistant Thread
Four Battens
Sail Slugs
Compare Prices
#2Macgregor 25MacGregor 25 Nylon Headboard
Stiff Fabric

Compare Prices
#3cape dory 25Cape Dory 25 Heavily reinforced corners
Four standard length battens
Computer Lofted
Compare Prices
#4Hunter 27Hunter 27 Full Batten Full Battens
More Square Footage
Compare Prices
#5Catalina 27Catalina 27 Better controlCompare Prices


How do Mainsails Work?

Although it is the most important and largest sail in a sailboat, the mainsail works in conjunction with the headsail. The headsail is the first to encounter the wind and then the wind gets to the main sail. A sailboat at times uses different headsails depending on the winds and feasibility, but this is not so in the case of a mainsail. Therefore, the mainsail must stand through the rough climates.


When a sailboat goes downwind, that is in the direction of the wind, all that is to be done is to hold this mainsail perpendicular to the direction in which the wind blows. Older sailboats had trouble sailing upwind, however technology has made things easier. The recent sailboats are advanced enough to sail in any direction, whether upwind or downwind. That is primarily due to the use of aerodynamics in making and operating the mainsails.


How to choose a Mainsail?

Since one does not buy a mainsail every day, it is definitely worth investing some time and effort in it. That’s because it saves you from further spending on a replacement in the near future. So you need to know certain specifics about your sailboat before buying a mainsail. That’s because you need to communicate effectively with the seller to understand whether it is the right match. The correct specifics ensure that the mainsail fits perfectly well in your sailboat.


You can begin with noting down the name and model of your sailboat. However, even sailboats of the same company and model could differ. That’s mainly because boat makers upgrade where technology and engineering quite often.  Therefore, to be more specific always disclose the exact year in which the boat was made.  Also, clearly mention any modifications that you may have made to the rig for any other part of the sailboat.


How to choose a durable mainsail?

First of all, you must be specific about where and how often you plan to sail, meaning daylight sailing, light in-shore cruising or otherwise.


Additionally, the mainsail needs to be far more durable for frequent sailors than it is for those who sail less often. Then again, the climatic conditions in which one is going to sail also matters. That’s because certain places have strong winds while others may have zephyrs. All of that affects the choice of material and other specifics of the mainsail.


So once you have noted all that down, then you must finally set your priorities. This must be based on what’s more important for you. Is it the price, flexibility of use, quality or durability? We strongly recommend that you purchase an expensive but high quality mainsail irrespective of how often you sail. That’s because the mainsail is the driving force of a sailboat and deserves due importance.


What Does it Cost to replace Mainsails?

Replacement mainsails can be custom made or you can buy the ones readily available. The latter often works out to be cheaper but you need to check the measurements of your sailboat and compare it with the mainsail. Usually the seller specifies the model and the years of the make to which it is likely to fit. However, that may or may not agree with your sailboat depending on the modifications that you may have made to it over the years. Usually, the mainsails made from Dacron are the most economic ones available out there, while the laminated ones are the costliest. So depending on the need and size of your sailboat you may pick one that fits into your budget.


How many battens should a mainsail have?


Pictured:  Osculati battens

To begin with, battens add support to the mainsail and the longer, the more supportive. Therefore, most sailors recommend a full batten because it gives additional support to the mainsails and prevents flogging and snapping while hoisting and lowering.  A four batten mainsail is considered to be ideal for daysailing and light cruising. So even if your sailboat’s original mainsail had three battens, a replacement may be more generous and advanced to offer four battens. If you need battens for your sail we like these by Osculati (set of 4).



Read through the Top 5 Mainsails listed below for a great sailing experience


  1. MacGregor 22 Models and Venture 222Macgregor 22

$ 525.00

This is an absolutely delightful and long lasting mainsail that can be used even in harsh climatic conditions. The best part is that although a replacement mainsail, it has more features than the original mainsail. The U.S. Dacron used in it contains as many as three layers. However, this mainsail fits only MacGregor 22 models and Venture 222 models made between 1971 and 1982. If you have any of the earlier or one of the later models, then it is recommended that you cross check the size on the dimension chart and match it up with your mainsail.

Dimension Chart
Foot = 8.8′
Leech = 22.1′
Luff = 21.0′
Area = 103.49 sq.ft.

Key Features

UV Resistant Thread: This mainsail features three layers of U.S. Dacron stitched together using a UV resistant thread to ensure that this mainsail lasts for several seasons. Also this feature is essential as this mainsail is meant for day sailing.

Four Battens: This mainsail has four battens, which is an improvement over the original mainsail that featured three battens. This provides additional support to the mainsail structure and that in turn makes it more durable.

Sail Slugs included: This product comes with sail slugs so you don’t have to wander anywhere to look for compatible slugs. Also these slugs remain fastened to the mast to facilitate convenient hoisting and lowering of the mainsail.


  • More advanced than the original mainsail.
  • Has four battens, making it long-lasting and better than the original mainsail.
  • Comes with mainsail slugs to ensure easy hoisting.
  • UV resistant thread.
  • Has an adjustable leech.
  • Comes with two years warranty.


  • Intended for day sailing and coastal cruising only
  • May not fit Macgregor 22 Models and Venture 222 models made before 1971 and after 1982

MacGregor 22 Models and Venture 222 is an advanced replacement and ensures more durability because of the use of three layered U.S. Dacron, UV resistant thread and four battens. Considering all of that and the adjustable leech, one can expect this mainsail to last for quite a few seasons.

Rating: 5 Stars


  1. MacGregor 25 Original Equipment Style MainsailMacgregor 25

Price: $ 595.00

This mainsail offers higher precision because it is computer lofted and uses a very high quality US Dacron in its manufacture. With four battens, this mainsail is definitely going to remain in shape for much longer. The headboard of this mainsail is made with nylon and that seems okay considering the size of the sailboat. That also adds more stability to the mainsail, making it a tough, heavy-duty product that can remain in shape for several seasons.

Dimension Chart:
Luff = 24.75′
Leech = 26.2′
Foot = 10.1′
Area = 139.99
Luff Attachment = 1/2″ Slugs

Key Features:
Nylon Headboard: There are many who prefer mainsails without a headboard, but having one is always preferable. It adds more stability to your mainsail and makes sailing more flexible.

Stiff Fabric: The fabric used in the manufacture of this product is the US Dacron and that too in three layers, stitched with a fine UV thread. All of that makes this mainsail exceptionally stiff and durable.


  • This product is computer lofted, making it more precise.
  • It comes with a headboard made from corrosion proof nylon to add more support to the mainsail.
  • Stiff fabric is used in the mainsail to ensure that it does not wear down too quickly.
  • The mainsail has four battens for a long-lasting shape.
  • Cost effective option for the original mainsail.
  • Comes with a two year warranty.Cons
  • Ideal only for day sailing and some amount of inshore cruising.
  • Suitable only for MacGregor 25 made between 1973 and 1987.



MacGregor 25 Original Equipment Style Mainsail is a cost-effective and high-rated mainsail that suits the Macgregor 25 model made between the years 1973 and 1987. This mainsail comes with a nylon headboard, four battens and uses the good old US Dracon, all of which make it extremely resistant and tough to beat the roughness amid the harsh seas. All of that ensures you don’t have to look any further if you want value for every buck that you shell out.


Rating: 5 Stars



  1. Cape Dory 25 Original Equipment Style Mainsail

Price: $725 

A great replacement for the Cape Dory 25, this is primarily designed to suit the outboard motor version of that model. Although it may seem slightly expensive, but this product is of very high quality as it uses the cruising grade U.S.Dacron. This product also comes with a strong rope that can be used to fasten the mainsail to the boom as well as the outhaul slug.

Dimension Chart:
Foot = 11.3′
Area = 151.87
Leech = 26.25′
Luff = 24.0′
Luff Attachment = 1/2″ Slugs
Foot Attachment = 1/2″ Slugs

Key Features:

Heavily reinforced corners: The corners of a sailboat largely work towards keeping its shape intact so that it can continue to serve its purpose much longer.  The workmanship on this mainsail’s corners is better than what can be expected from a custom-made mainsail.


Four standard length battens:

The length of the batten is always debated about, with many concluding that the longer the batter the better support it gives. This mainsail comes with four standard battens which seem okay for its size and needs.


Computer Lofted:

When it comes to mechanical precision, only a machine can ensure that and probably keeping that in mind this mainsail is computer lofted. So there is very little left to worry about its shape and other attributes.



  • Made from cruise grade U.S. Dacron.
  • This mainsail is computer lofted to ensure precision.
  • Comes with a two year warranty period.
  • Has four standard battens which is adequate for its size.
  • Comes with a nylon headboard for added support to the mainsail.
  • Includes sail bag.



  • Most suitable for day sailing and inshore cruising only.



Cape Dory 25 Original Equipment Style Mainsail is a reasonable model that you can pick for light sailing. This product has all the features such as four standard battens, cruise grade U.S. Dacron and nylon headboard that make it an above average product.


Rating: 4 Stars






  1. Hunter 27 Full Batten OEM Style Mainsail

Hunter 27



Price: $895.00 + $21.49 for shipping


This product is a good bargain as compared to a custom-made mainsail for the same model. It comes with full batten mainsails, which renders more support and adds to its durability. Also with a full batten, it lets you have the sheet out in a jiffy. This product is suitable for Hunter 27 models that were made prior to 1980.

Dimension Chart:

Foot = 9.9′

Area = 177.01

Luff = 29.8′

Leech = 30.3′


Key Considerations:


Full Battens: Although the batten size is often argued upon, but a majority of sailors would go for a full batten. That helps you tame this sea monster when you put out its sheet.


More Square Footage : To help the mainsail sway better during Zephyrs, this product claims to have four percent more square footage than the original mainsails and that is definitely an improvement.



  • These are full batten mainsails.
  • Lesser expensive compared to the custom-made mainsails.
  • Incorporates triple-step stitch with a highly durable UV resistant thread running through it.
  • The four percent additional square footage ensures better control when the wind gets slow.
  • This product offers two years warranty.
  • Comes with a sail bag.



  • Not suitable only for Hunter 27 models made after 1983.





Hunter 27 Full Batten OEM Style Mainsail-+ is an average product that might at first seem pricier but makes up for those extra bucks with 4 percent extra square footage, nylon headboard and UV resistant thread, making it an ideal option for daylight sailing and in-shore cruising.


Rating: 3 Stars



  1. Catalina 27 Full Batten OEM Style MainsailCatalina 27



Price: $940.00

You don’t have to worry about a flappy mainsail when you opt for one with a full batten. So you can be sure that the mainsail won’t look like a flag. Also it ensures better shape in the seas that can at times have rough winds. With more features like heavily reinforced corners, four full battens, and high quality cruise grade U.S. Dacron, this product ensures quality, good shape, durability and is worth the price you pay for it.
Dimension Chart:

Foot = 10.5′
Area = 180.56 sq ft.

Luff = 28.66′
Leech = 30.09′



Key Considerations:


Better control: The four full battens of this product help in the better management of the mainsail by providing it with more control in the windy seas.




  • Comes with a composite headboard for additional support.
  • Comes with a two year warranty.
  • Goes well with Catalina 27 models that have a standard rig.
  • Four standard battens ensure better control.




  • Some sailors may not prefer a headboard.
  • Does not fit Catalina 27 model that comes with a tall Rig.
  • Doesn’t go well with Catalina 270 models.




Catalina 27 Full Batten OEM Style Mainsail is a full batten mainsail that provides additional support and reduces flogging to a great extent. This is an average product that delivers almost all that it promises to. Also the extra footage adds more support, while the nylon used in its headboard continues to remain a lightweight material.


Rating: 3 stars



Final Conclusion:

The above listed products are some of the best cost-effective and highly rated options out there. Although the choice of a mainsail varies according to many factors like the type of the sailboat, its size, frequency and purpose of use, some of the most common replacements are listed here.


The mainsails listed here are all made from high-quality U.S. Dacron, which is a time-tested fabric used to make mainsails since ages. However, there are other different types of mainsails depending on the fabric, design or usage. Moreover, the changing times and technology have definitely not left the world of sailing untouched.



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