Setting up

• Foredeck hand sets up the sail while still on the windward leg.

• Crew remains on the rail to keep the boat flat.

• Hoist inboard end of the pole to pre-set mark.

• Start to sneak the windward clew to the end of the pole.

Rounding the mark

• Know in advance what the angles are going to be.

• Designated person calls the hoist.

• Square the pole and raise the sail at the same time.

• Ease the outhaul, release the backstay, situate crew weight for best advantage.

mark, open the spinnaker bag, drag out the clews and attach the halyard. You can begin to raise the outboard end of the spinnaker pole to a pre-set mark, and you can also start to sneak the windward clew up to the spinnaker pole. All this time it's important to be thinking about how best to lower the headsail. On many boats, especially those with masthead rigs, the spinnaker will not fill properly until the headsail has been lowered and is out of the way. Therefore, make sure that the halyard has been flaked and is ready to run and that the foredeck crew knows that the sail will be dropped as soon as the spinnaker is hoisted.

Again, as you round the mark it's important to keep as much weight on the rail as possible. This will help minimize the amount of rudder the helmsman will have to use to bear away; the less he has to turn the wheel, the better it is for keeping boat speed at a maximum. Somebody on board should be designated to call the hoist, preferably someone near the back of the boat who has a good overview of the situation, and the spinnaker should never be hoisted until that person gives the command. When the call comes be sure to square the pole and raise the sail at the same time. This will minimize any chance of the spinnaker being twisted. The sail trimmers should know in advance of getting to the mark the apparent wind angle of the next leg and be prepared to act accordingly. If, however, there is a tactical reason for sailing high or low, it should be communicated as soon as possible. The communication between the afterguard and trimmers must start long before getting to the turning mark.

Once the spinnaker is up and drawing, the crew can focus on other things like easing the outhaul, releasing backstay tension and getting crew weight in the right place - which is on the rail if it's a close reach with some wind, forward and to leeward if it's a light-air run or somewhere in-between. The crew should always be ready for an immediate jibe and have the lines clear and ready to run.

The Jibe-Set

Before we look at how to jibe, let's first go back to the windward mark and change the circumstances. This time the tactician wants a jibe-set rather than a bear-away set. This is a tactical maneuver that, if done well, can really work in your favor. There are a number of practical reasons to jibe-set at the windward mark, including the ability to protect a certain side of the race course or be first to an approaching puff. In any event it's an excellent tactical maneuver that is no more difficult to execute than a bear-away set. In many ways your approach to the mark will be the same no matter what maneuver you're planning, although in this case the foredeck hand will have the spinnaker bag on the windward side

"... as you round the mark it's important to keep as much weight on the rail as possible. This will help minimize the amount of rudder the helmsman will have to use to bear away; the less he has to turn the wheel, the better it is for keeping boat speed at a maximum."

and the spinnaker pole ready to leeward. The big difference here is that, because you will be jibing at the mark, you cannot fully deploy the pole until after the jibe since it will get in the way of the sail. The inboard end can be raised, but not the outboard end. Make sure that the lines are clear and will remain so after the jibe. Pay special attention to how the genoa sheets are led.

As soon as you get to the mark and can jibe the boat, do so, and at the same time begin to hoist the spinnaker. As soon as the jib has crossed over, the pole can be raised, although you should focus on the spinnaker first and the pole second since on all but the biggest boats you can actually hoist and fly the spinnaker without it. On smaller boats you can even have one of your crew act as a human spinnaker pole, pushing the guy out with his hands while waiting for the real pole to be put in place. Until this is done, the helmsman should sail the boat under the spinnaker and as always he should be concentrating on boat speed and on making smooth, calculated turns. Sailing the boat under the spinnaker requires a skilled helmsman and can be as difficult as it sounds. It depends on the wind and waves, but basically running downwind the helmsman needs to keep the boat under the spinnaker and not let it get away on one side or the other. As soon as the jibe-set is completed, the crew should be ready again for another jibe.

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