A masthead sloop is a sailboat with a single mast and a single headsail that is attached to the top of the mast. A fractional sloop is a sailboat with a single mast and a single headsail that is attached to a point below the top of the mast.
According to some sources, some of the benefits of a masthead sloop are:
- It has a larger jib and a larger spinnaker than a fractional sloop, which can give it a speed advantage when sailing downwind.
- It is easier to tune and more secure than a fractional sloop, because it has a backstay that directly opposes the forestay and keeps the mast in column.
- It is more common on cruising sailboats and can be considered a more traditional way to rig a boat.
Some of the benefits of a fractional sloop are:
- It has a smaller jib and a larger mainsail than a masthead sloop, which can make it easier to manage and maneuver around a racecourse.
- It gives more control over the sail shape, because the forestay tension can affect the mast bend and the mainsail flatness.
- It is more popular among racing sailboats and high-performance boats, because it can adapt to different wind conditions and sail changes better than a masthead sloop.
Of course, these are generalizations and there are pros and cons to both types of rigs. The choice depends on your sailing preferences, plans and goals.