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Genoas and jibs have lightweight streamers (telltales) behind the luff of the sail enabling trimmers and the helmsperson to see how the wind is flowing across the surface of the sail. An astute helmsperson uses the telltales to sail as fast and as close to the wind as possible. Click here to learn more and download UK Sailmakers’ one-page instructions on how to steer to telltales.

Another use of telltales is to determine the proper location of the jib sheet lead block. Sets of telltales are placed at different heights on the headsail so that trimmers can move the lead forward or aft until all the sets of telltales react the same.

Above is a Spectra and Carbon Tape-Drive jib with a white taffeta over the tapes. The two lowest vertical battens are showing and they are six feet (two meters) long.