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Theory of Sailing: Part 6
By Roy Dunster & Mark Sadler
Last month's checklist for headsail trim on the windward side of the spinnaker and
included the following: helping to control the vertical height of the
pole. The `lazy sheet/guy' is the one that
isn't being used at the time i.e. the sheet
Checklist True? on the windward side and the guy on the
Know what effect the jib controls have S leeward side.
End-For-End Gybe used on boats up
Your base upwind jib sheet setting S to around 40 feet. In this gybe, the pole
has the sheet enter the car at an is kept horizontal and simply unclipped
angle of about 45 degrees from the mast, then from the old guy, and
is clipped onto the new guy and then re-
The slot between the jib leech and S attached to the mast.
the mainsail is even all the way up Dip Pole Gybe dip pole gybes are
done on boats where the spinnaker pole
In most wind, the jib tell-tales break S cannot easily be manhandled by the
evenly. bowman (i.e. 40 foot and upwards), and
the boat usually has lazy sheets/guys. The
In strong wind, the top tell-tales break
slightly earlier because the top of
S gybe involves the bowman unclipping the
pole from the guy and then the pole is
the sail will be allowed to twist off hoisted on the mast track and dropped at
the outboard end so that it is able to dip
The jib is trimmed constantly upwind S between the mast and the forestay. As the
according to changes in the conditions. pole comes through to the new windward
In big breeze, the trimmer is ready to dump side, it is clipped onto the lazy guy (at this
the sheet if the boat gets overpowered stage the sheet is still carrying all the load),
the outboard end is hoisted and the new
If the jib is up while the spinnaker is S guy is sheeted on to take the load.
flown, it is deliberately under-trimmed Tackline used on an asymmetric
spinnaker to anchor (and adjust) the
If you feel slow, ease the jib slightly. S tackline on the bow, bowsprit or spinnaker
If you can't get height upwind, pull pole.
the jib in slightly Spinnaker Chute a spinnaker chute
has an opening near the bow where the
spinnaker is launched and recovered, and a
The discussion this month will be anchored on the sheerline near the boat's tube (made out of GRP and/or sailcloth) in
on spinnakers and will include both shrouds. It has a block or fairlead which the the boat to store it. To launch, the halyard is
symmetricals and asymmetrics. In addition spinnaker sheet/guy runs through and its pulled and to drop, the halyard is released
to dealing with how to trim them, we'll primary purpose is to make the angle of the and the retrieving line (an umbilical
also talk about the basics of handling them guy coming off the spinnaker pole greater. attached to patches near the middle of the
safely. We won't deal with individual types This helps to prevent the pole skying (i.e. kite) is pulled until the whole sail is stowed
of boats because the generic descriptions shooting up vertically) and the tweaker for in the chute. They are commonly used on
should be sufficient. the new guy needs to be tensioned before dinghies and can make sail handling easier,
a gybe for this reason. The tweaker is also although they are prone to collecting water
Definitions sometimes used to help the sheet run more when the bow goes through waves.
Kite; Chute; Bag - other terms for smoothly under the mainsail boom, or to Spinnaker Bag another option for
spinnaker. take twist out of the leeward edge of the launching/recovering/storing the spinnaker.
Asymmetrical Spinnaker has a spinnaker. They can take the form of the sailbag on
longer luff than leech - i.e. the clew will be Pole Topping Lift effectively a halyard big boats (which can be used to store, and
higher than the tack. This means that the to pull the spinnaker pole upwards. then launch the kite) or the bags on smaller
luff is always `the luff' (on a symmetrical Pole Downhaul pulls the spinnaker boats like Fireballs and Rebels which are
spinnaker, each vertical edge could be the pole down. located at the front of the cockpit. On
luff or the leech, depending on which gybe Square the Spinnaker on a dinghies, spinnaker bags may seem harder
the boat is on) and the sail gets gybed by symmetrical spinnaker, this involves pulling to handle than spinnaker chutes but they
releasing the sheet on the one side and on the guy and is done when the boat don't collect water and give more sail
pulling it in on the new leeward side. bears off further away from the wind. handling options.
Symmetrical Spinnaker clews are the Lazy Sheet & Lazy Guy many large Snuffer effectively a vertical spinnaker
same height and luffs are the same length. boats (35 foot-plus) have separate sheets chute that consists of a faired opening and
Sheet rope used to control the and guys. The loads on the guys are much a long bag. It is hoisted with the spinnaker
leeward side of the sail. bigger than on the sheets (i.e. they need inside it, and then is allowed to open when
Guy only used on a symmetrical much stronger rope and blocks) and also the crew wants to set the kite. Dousing the
spinnaker. Controls the windward side need to use an ideal sheeting position spinnaker consists of easing the sheet and
of the sail and usually runs through the (this will be much further forward than the guy (or just sheet on an asymmetric) and
spinnaker pole end. turning block for the spinnaker sheet) which then pulling the snuffer downwards. The
Tweaker a control which is usually will be a combination of getting leverage spinnaker and snuffer are then lowered
8 · SAILING March 2009 www.sailing.co.za
onto the deck. Snuffers can be useful, boat sailing over it) or it blowing inside the
especially on large boats sailed by few fore-triangle and getting tangled. A good
people. way to prevent this is for the helmsman
30/20 refers to cloth weight. This to bear off a bit more as the kite is being
equates to about 0.6oz but can be used in pulled up but if the sail does get stuck
similar windstrength to a 0.75oz. between the forestay and the mast, a gybe
0.5oz refers to cloth weight. This will can help to get it free.
be a light wind spinnaker. Lighter cloth will
make it easier for the spinnaker to set in Trimming the Spinnaker
light wind. Heavier cloth will make it less
likely to burst in strong wind. Sheet And Guy Position
0.75oz refers to cloth weight. 0.75oz Generally you want to have the spinnaker
is the most common weight for general as loose as possible and you do this by
purpose spinnakers. keeping the sheet eased enough to have
1.5oz refers to cloth weight. 1.5oz a constant, small curl in the luff. If you
and higher is ideal cloth for strong wind are trimming the sail and the luff hasn't
spinnakers. curled in the last 10 seconds, the odds are
Code sails (e.g. Code 0, A1, etc.) refers that it's trimmed too tight. If the spinnaker
to sail size and whether it is asymmetric collapses from the luff, it means it was set
(A) or symmetrical (S). Note that very too loose. If the collapse seems to start
few Grand Prix boats carry symmetrical from the centre, it needs to be eased and/
spinnakers anymore. Sizes are as follows: or squared to windward.
For getting the guy in the right place,
Code 0=75% of Spinnaker Area (SPA) the first thing is that the pole should never
Code 1=96% of SPA be right on the forestay. On dinghies it
Code 2=100% of SPA might be as close as 5cm, while on
Code 3=90% of SPA keelboats it's likely to be more like a
Code 4=75% of SPA - fuller than a code 0 minimum of 20cm. Assuming the sheet is
trimmed correctly (i.e. with the luff just
Handling the Spinnaker curling), the luff of the spinnaker should fly
We'll assume that the spinnaker is stored vertically off the pole. If it seems to bend to
in a bag so neither a chute nor snuffer leeward, the guy is too tight and the pole is
will be used. We'll deal with handling a over-squared, and the opposite if it tends to
symmetrical spinnaker first. bulge to weather.
An exception could be if the wind is
Symmetrical Spinnaker very strong and you are trying to flatten the
The Leeward Hoist kite, in which case a bit of over-squaring
This is the easier of the two methods can be a good thing, especially on a run
of getting the spinnaker up because the when it will help to stop the boat rolling.
sail flies out to leeward (away from the
boat) and there's much less risk of getting Pole Height discussed what happens in end-for-end and
it wrapped around something, or sailing The starting point is that the clews of the dip-pole manoeuvres).
over it. spinnaker should be roughly level. As * If there is lots of wind and the pole is
In a leeward hoist, the crew will set the a general rule, a low pole will help the difficult to attach to the mast on the new
spinnaker pole first (a good starting point spinnaker to set when the wind is very light side there will probably also be waves. As
is for it to be approximately horizontal) while a raised pole will help it `breathe' the boat rolls to weather, the pole will be
and then the spinnaker itself will be pulled better when there's breeze. a lot easier to push out and that is the ideal
up as the boat bears off from a beat. As You can also use the point that the luff time to clip it onto the mast.
the kite goes up, the guy will be pulled curls to get the height right. Ideally, the curl It's also a good idea for the bowman
back (more, the closer the boat is to dead should start in the middle if it starts at the to push the pole out forwards rather than
downwind) and, once it is all the way up, top, there's too much twist in the sail and across the boat there is less distance to
the sheet will be trimmed. the pole should be lowered. The converse push because the forestay will already be
is true if the curl starts near the bottom. forcing the new guy some of the way out.
* The helmsman watches the progress
The Weather Hoist of the bowman and slows down or
When hoisting to weather, the spinnaker Gybing the Spinnaker
There is no reason why a spinnaker should speeds up the gybe, depending on what's
needs to go up first (once the boat has happening on the front of the boat.
already borne away) and the pole stop drawing through a gybe, except
sometimes on two-person dinghies where * The trimmers also watch the bowman
is attached to the mast and the guy and ensure the spinnaker is flying smoothly
afterwards. the crew might run out of hands. Good
gybes involve the whole crew looking the whole way through the gybe, taking
On a two-person dinghy, the process particular care to ensure that they do not
will usually be that the crew takes the forward and communicating clearly with
each other. The basic process, taking into suddenly pull the new guy as the bowman
whole spinnaker out of its storage bag and is trying to attach it to the pole...
then throws it forward and around the account the previous description of end-
for-end and dip-pole gybes, should be: Not controlling the spinnaker and
forestay as the helmsman pulls the halyard. ending up with it flapping is very bad. It
On a keelboat, the bowman will take * The tactician calls the gybe.
* The pre-gybe adjustments are made will be hard to attach the pole to the new
the whole spinnaker forward and feed guy and the flapping is likely to heel the
it around the front of the forestay as the (e.g. the new tweaker is pulled on before
the gybe). boat, potentially spinning it out of control.
pitman pulls the halyard. In both cases, the * The pitman monitors the pole
pole is only set once the spinnaker is up * The bowman (assuming we're on a
keelboat) runs forward and braces himself downhaul and uphaul to make sure the
and, preferably, flying. pole is able to be controlled and then
C o o r dinat io n b e t we e n w h o eve r (probably against the mast) to handle the
pole. squared back sufficiently on the new gybe.
is pulling the halyard and feeding the * The old weather tweaker is released
spinnaker for ward is critical bad * As the helmsman bears off into the
gybe, the guy trimmer squares the pole. as the boat comes onto its new course.
coordination could result in the bag landing * Someone is ready to release the vang,
in the water in front of the boat (and the * The pole is gybed (we have already
10 · SAILING March 2009 www.sailing.co.za
especially if there is a chance of broaching.
Here, the spinnaker is pulled in on the leeward side of the boat.
The process is:
* Get hold of the sheet by holding it directly, controlling the
leeward tweaker or using a retrieving line, and start to pull it and
the spinnaker onto the boat.
* The guy should be eased forward but controlled, and the
person gathering the spinnaker (probably the bowman) should get
control of the foot of the sail first.
* Note that the guy should not be eased so much that the
spinnaker gets away from the boat. Rather the guy trimmer must
watch the progress on the bow and ease on fast enough to not
slow down the bowman's job.
* The halyard is released and the sail is gathered in as quickly
* Once the sail is in, the pole can be lowered and stowed.
The leeward drop is made easier by the spinnaker ending up
in the lee of the main and jib so it is relatively easy to pull in.
However, if the foot is not under control by the time the boat
starts to head upwind, it can get away from the boat and cause a
problem (like get stuck around the aft end of the boom).
On large boats, leeward drops are safer than weather ones.
However, on yachts up to approximately 30 foot, they are both
fairly easy and, if you are sailing a standard Olympic course, it will
probably be better to do weather drops so that you are set up for a
leeward hoist at the windward mark.
The process is:
* Drop the pole and stow it on the leeward side of the boat
(taking care to get it on the right side of the jib sheets). As the
pole is dropped, the guy is slightly over-squared to flatten the kite
www.sailingmag.com SAILING March 2009 · 11
Symetrical spinnaker Symetrical spinnaker
- setting the the pole height - trimming the guy
Pole end clew higher Luff `bends' to leeward
- heavy air position - ease the guy forward Luff `bulges' to windward
- square the guy more
Pole end clew lower - guy correctly trimmed
- light air position
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We now also offer a braided, racing, 3 strand
and rope to wire splicing service. and give more control. If possible, someone should hold onto
And we supply snap, `Dī and the weather shrouds and act as a human pole to help hold the
spinnaker out to windward.
captive halyard shakles. * If you are on a keel boat where the jib sheets run over
everything, have someone ensure that the weather jib sheet is
pulled tight to make it easier for the bowman to get the spinnaker
dropped on the correct side of the jib sheets.
* This is a simple but very effective way to ensure that the jib
sheets are always over everything else.
* The bowman gets hold of the guy and starts to pull it onto
the boat. At this point, the sheet needs to be eased and the crew
gathering the kite MUST get control of the foot before the halyard
is eased too much - i.e. this means that everyone is looking
forward and making sure that the spinnaker does not land up in
the water in front of the boat.
* The cool thing with the weather drop is that once the kite
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pleases because the spinnaker will get blown into (as opposed to
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Email: firstname.lastname@example.org The Hoist
The critical point when hoisting an asymmetric is that, on boats
www.gwindustries.com which have them, the bowsprit needs to be pulled out all the way
before anything else happens. If you try to pull the bowsprit out
12 · SAILING March 2009 www.sailing.co.za
once the spinnaker is up and the tackline is sailing in waves this will eventually result in
set, the odds are that the loads will be too the kite losing its `balance' and collapsing
high to do so. completely.
You know what the different S
spinnaker controls do.
The next thing is to pull the tackline
and then the halyard. Apart from that, Gybing the Asymmetrical Spinnaker
it is the same as hoisting a symmetrical For the most part, this involves releasing
You know which spinnakers you
have in your inventory and why.
spinnaker. the old sheet and pulling in the new one.
In light wind, the spinnaker can `float' most
Trimming the Asymmetrical of the way around and should not need to
You know the difference between
a leeward and weather hoist and
Spinnaker collapse. However, in breeze, you probably
can do either.
don't want to come out of the gybe with
Sheet and Tackline Position the spinnaker too powered up. In this case,
Like a symmetrical spinnaker, the objective it can be good to collapse it on the jib just
On a symmetrical spinnaker, the
luff flies vertically up the luff.
with the asymmetric is to keep a bit of curl as you're going through the gybe. This is
on the luff at all times and try and keep the achieved by giving a quick jerk on the old
sheet as loose as possible. sheet as the boat gets to dead downwind.
On a symmetrical and asymmetric S
On boats with fixed bowsprits (or if the spinnaker, the sheet is frequently
The sail can then be pulled through to the
spinnaker is just flown off the bow), you adjusted and the luff curls evenly
new side once the mainsail has gybed and
obviously don't have a pole to square and the whole way up.
the boat is on its new course.
this could make sailing lower than a beam
reach pretty difficult. However, sailmakers The Drop
In light wind, the pole or the
tackline is lowered.
ar e go o d at making a s y mm e t ric al This is the almost same as for a symmetrical
spinnakers for heavy keelboats (high speed spinnaker, the main difference being that
skiffs don't have the problem because their In strong wind, the pole and the S
the pole is the last thing to be stowed
apparent wind is always so far forward) and tackline are raised.
irrespective of whether you're doing a
the sails are designed to be able to `float' leeward or windward drop. It was the first
around to windward with a massively You've practised gybing the S
thing to be launched in the hoist and the
eased sheet. spinnaker and can do it in an
order is reversed for the drop. The other
The tackline performs a very important condition you're likely to sail in.
point is that it is very easy to get the kite
role (beyond just pulling the kite to the in the water, especially if it is being flown
end of the pole) and should actually be off a bowsprit (which is physically very
You know the difference between S
trimmed like the pole uphaul/downhaul a leeward and weather drop and
close to the water). This means that getting
on a symmetrical spinnaker i.e. eased to can do either.
the spinnaker onto the boat very quickly
allow the tack to go higher in breeze and is extremely important. On bigger boats,
tightened when the wind drops. When If there's anything you'd like to
it has resulted in techniques like pulling
there's lots of wind, an eased tackline discuss about spinnaker trim or any
the spinnaker through the gap between
can also help to get the spinnaker to float of the other topics we've covered so
the boom and the loose-footed mainsail to
further to windward, although if you're far, give Mark a call on 072-140 9049.
help keep it high and out the water.
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