OK, so I think I might have figured it out (helps when I actually look closer at the top!) I have a convertable top - and that perhaps the rear bar slides thru the end of the top, in a pocket in front of the zipper, similar to a curtain & curtain rod. If that is correct, then the front half of the top is always connected to the bars - so what if you want to take the top off, or fold down? Check out my pics to see if I am making any sense.
(Forgive the dirt & debris on the boat. I just took the shrinkwrap off and haven't cleaned it yet)