Spinnaker Takedown

Dropping the spinnaker at the leeward mark is a process that requires speed, skill, and a coordinated effort between the helmsman and the foredeck crew. There are a number of procedures to follow, and they apply to almost all kinds of takedowns. First and foremost, the jib must be raised. This not only provides a blanket for the spinnaker, it's also necessary for boat speed. Second, the spinnaker pole can be removed while the spinnaker is still flying. On small boats a "human" guy, as described earlier, can be employed to take the place of the pole; on larger boats the helmsman is going to have to sail skillfully and keep the boat under the spinnaker. If you are using both sheets and guys on the sail, fly the spinnaker on the

When a spinnaker is lowered it will trap a pocket of air under it so that it does not end up in the water, but allows the crew to gather it more easily.

sheets by taking up on the tweakers, i.e., separate lines led amidships and attached to the spinnaker sheets with a small block. Normally, they are used to fine tune the clew height as the wind angle changes, but by taking up on them as you remove the pole you will be able to get more control over the spinnaker since you will be flying the sail from amidships rather than from the back of the boat. Another advantage of sailing on sheets alone is that the winch that was being used by the guy can now be freed for the genoa sheet and readied for the hoist.

After that, assuming you are rounding marks to port, as is the case with most race courses, whenever possible drop the spinnaker on the port side of the boat: In other words, if you are coming in on port tack do a windward takedown as opposed to just dropping the chute on the leeward. This way you will already be prepared for another bear-away set at the top mark and you will not have to mess around with the sheets and guys pulling them over to the proper side of the boat when you are sailing the windward leg. If there is too much wind, or the boat is too large to execute this maneuver safely, you will have to do a more conventional leeward takedown and sort out the sheets and guys after you get around the mark. Otherwise, although many sailors don't do it, be sure to drop your spinnaker to windward whenever possible. Let's look at these two maneuvers separately.

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