How to Fly a Spinnaker
IntorductionI have had Papoose for 23 years and never used a spinnaker on her until about a year ago. Last two seasons we won the local beer can series using a free flying jib downwind sometimes along with our normal jib. But we always had to play catch up to the boats that used spinnakers. I decided to learn to fly a spinnaker so we could move to the next level. The results have been good. We have kept up with boats that owe a lot of time and took 1st in the first two series and tied for 1st in the last series (yeah, I know -- they did not break the tie and we would have lost the tie breaker but still...)
BackgroundAbout two years ago, I decided the next level for my racing was using a spinnaker. We were winning without it, but I knew serious competition would require a spinnaker. I asked everyone I knew"How do you fly a spinnaker?". I got a universal response of basically: "I can't tell you. You need to get on a crew and learn by doing." I joined the crew of a Tartan Ten, a boat with a slightly (30%) smaller spinnaker but well sailed and a good skipper. It was a great experience. We practiced once a week year around and raced two winter series. I did every position except foredeck and assisted on foredeck a few times. The practices were always spinnaker focused so I must have been involved in several hundred sets, take downs, gybes, etc. I learned the system that this skipper had. I also got to see how he did in serious competition in two winter series and a large "Plastic Classic" series. We won the two winter series and got second in the Plastic Classic. I was able to see that he was by far the best of the fleet at spinnaker handling.
I had done what everyone said, learn by doing. The next step was to do this on my own boat. (Ready for the punch line). What was the response of everyone who told me to learn by doing? That won't work. You need to do it (this way). Here I am with crew that now wants to change what we do to their particularly favorite way of doing things. Every experienced crew has a different way they want to try.
So, if you want to use this method, be prepared for a rebellion. It works but seems to be unique to the guy who thought it to me, and Dennis Conner who suggests the same method in "Sail Like A Champion".
For those interested, I have rotating crew so do not always have the same person at each position every week. I will teach this method and refine it so that everyone is on the same page. This is a team sport and if everyone runs the same play, we will be successful. If every player thinks they know a better pattern and everyone is running in a different direction, it will not work -- even if there way is better.
How is it going?So far we have had several good spinnaker runs. Every set went perfectly, except for the first one where we wrapped the halyard around the spreader, rounded up, and broke my old wood pole. The new aluminum pole is very nice. The gybes have gone per plan as well. There was a lot of disagreement on the sets, but once a few of them went off perfectly, no more complaints. The douses are still a sore spot with the more experienced crew but it is clear that they will be just fine once we get everyone a little more practice. Practice in light winds first but also practice in higher winds. You don't want to hear that "this worked fine in practice but the winds were light so we need to do it differently right now in this race". Practice, practice, practice.
Click on "NEXT" at the bottom of the page to advance to the next section.
Ad by Google
I do not sell or share any user data or anything else for that matter. The only personal information I save is in the site log which has a line for each page view which includes the IP address your browser sends in the header as well as which page you requested. I use this to block hackers and other bad actors. I do not use this raw data to create profiles on users. I periodically delete the log files. If you are subject to CCPA, Google ads on this site will not be based on your past behavior so you will likely not see an ad for a lawn mower just because you looked for one at a big box website. I do not believe this site is subject to CCPA but I am doing what I can to follow the guidelines anyway.
The information on this web site has not been checked for accuracy. It is for entertainment purposes only and should be independently verified before using for any other reason. There are five sources. 1) Documents and manuals from a variety of sources. These have not been checked for accuracy and in many cases have not even been read by anyone associated with L-36.com. I have no idea of they are useful or accurate, I leave that to the reader. 2) Articles others have written and submitted. If you have questions on these, please contact the author. 3) Articles that represent my personal opinions. These are intended to promote thought and for entertainment. These are not intended to be fact, they are my opinions. 4) Small programs that generate result presented on a web page. Like any computer program, these may and in some cases do have errors. Almost all of these also make simplifying assumptions so they are not totally accurate even if there are no errors. Please verify all results. 5) Weather information is from numerous of sources and is presented automatically. It is not checked for accuracy either by anyone at L-36.com or by the source which is typically the US Government. See the NOAA web site for their disclaimer. Finally, tide and current data on this site is from 2007 and 2008 data bases, which may contain even older data. Changes in harbors due to building or dredging change tides and currents and for that reason many of the locations presented are no longer supported by newer data bases. For example, there is very little tidal current data in newer data bases so current data is likely wrong to some extent. This data is NOT FOR NAVIGATION. See the XTide disclaimer for details. In addition, tide and current are influenced by storms, river flow, and other factors beyond the ability of any predictive program.