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March 20, 2019 3 min read

Split Tail Mainsheet

A split tail mainsheet is a useful thing to have on your boat, they are used across a number of different applications from catamarans through to dinghies which have multiple attachments on the boom.

In this article we are going to cover two ways of making a split tail mainsheet, a basic way, and then a more advanced way.

Basic Approach

There is a really simple approach to creating a split tail mainsheet, and that is using a braid on braid rope or very similar. This could also be completed using a dyneema core rope.

This approach involves digging out the core of the rope and leaving the cover as one end and using the core as the other end of your split tail.

What you'll need:

  • Your length of rope
  • Selma Fid
  • Whipping Twine
  • Needle
  • Rope scissors or knife
  • Electrical (PVC) tape
  • Way of sealing the ends, a lighter would be fine in this case
  • Marker pen

Take your length of rope and measure it up against your boat to work out how much of the inside core you need to expose to split the rope evenly. Remember that you will want this to pull evenly on both split ends to distribute the load across the two attachment points.

Once measured, work out the point you are going to start to dig the core out of the rope, sometimes we find it useful to mark this with a marker pen.

Start by cutting the end of your rope to release the core from the cover, when you buy a new rope it's likely to be heat sealed and both parts will be sealed together. Start to bend the rope and bunch up the cover to loosen it, this will make it easier to get the fid inside.

Gently, without damaging the cover or core, work your fid into the ropes cover at the point you've marked and then attempt to grab the core of the rope and pull it out through the same hole the fid entered through. Once you have exposed the core slightly you can pull the rest out of that hole.

As soon as you have split both parts of the rope we recommend sealing the ends so they don't fray. You could wrap PVC tape around the ends first, then cut through the tape in the middle and seal with your lighter.

Work the cover back so it's no longer bunched up and the rope is back to its normal diameter and shape.

We then recommend adding a few stitches and whip to ensure the cover and core remain in place. You should do this above where the core and cover are split.

More Advanced Options

Maybe you're looking for a more lightweight mainsheet without a core running all the way through? Or maybe you have a thin mainsheet and want a thicker core connecting to your attachment points?

Here are some other options available to you:

  • You could use a twin core rope
  • Stitch some 12 strand dyneema into a hollow braid rope such as Maffioli Swiftcord
  • Taper your rope down and then stitch in another dyneema core


Got questions? We're always happy to help with rope questions and we also offer a fully customisable rope splicing service if you wanted us to help create your perfect split tail mainsheet.

Simply drop us an e-mail or give the team a call.