Stopping a Spinnaker

Unless you are setting the lightest of spinnakers or on a fairly small boat, the sail should be in stops or in a spinnaker sock. Stops are either elastic bands or light pieces of yarn that are used to lash the sail to keep it from catching wind and setting prematurely. Larger boats (or spinnakers that are going to be set in a lot of wind) should be stopped with yarn. The yarn is more time consuming, but definitely worth the effort. It is the only safe and secure way to ensure that the spinnaker does not open prematurely. Using Bands as Stops

This is the easiest way of stopping a spinnaker. To band the sail use the following procedure:

1. Buy a sturdy plastic bucket and cut the bottom off.

2. Take regular household rubber bands and pull them over the open end of the bucket until you have a few dozen bands loaded.

3. Starting at the head of the spinnaker, pull the sail through the bucket releasing a band every two feet or so. The bands will snap around the fabric keeping the sail from opening when you are setting it.

4. Stop banding the sail six to eight feet from the clews to allow them to be spread when you are hoisting the sail.

5. If the spinnaker is light you can leave the clews as they are, but if you anticipate wind, you might consider banding the clews as well as the rest of the sail. To do so pull each clew through the bucket releasing bands as you go.

Once you have finished banding the sail it should look well trussed. Your main objective is to ensure that the spinnaker can be hoisted all the way to the top of the mast and the sheets and guys set before the wind catches the sail and begins breaking bands.

Using Yarns as Stops

Larger spinnakers, or those that might be set in stronger winds, need to be tied with yarn and carefully hand-folded. When I raced the Whitbread in the days of IOR maxi-boats the spinnakers were over 5,000 square feet in area, and we set them in 30 to 40 knots of wind. We had to be sure that the spinnakers were packed with the same care a pilot would pack his parachute.

Before you stop a spinnaker with yarn, you need to first prepare it by making some marks on the sail:

1. Ensure that the corners of your sail are properly labelled as head and clew.

2. Along the leeches put small arrows pointing toward the head of the sail. This will help you untangle the spinnaker when it gets dumped below after a sail change.

3. Measure the foot of the sail, divide it in half and make a mark.

4. Using a waterproof marker, make a mark on the leech of the sail up from the clew. The distance will be the half foot length that you just calculated.

To stop the sail use the following procedure:

1. Start by running the leeches. Begin at the head and (making sure that there are no twists in the spinnaker) work your way down the sail until you get to the clew.

2. Starting at the head again and keeping the leeches together, start folding the body of the sail in toward the leeches. Keep the fold as neat and tight as possible.

3. Using household yarn, wrap it around the spinnaker and tie it off securely.

4. Move down the sail three feet and tie a second stop and so on until you get to the pre-marked point on the leech. (The point that is half the foot length up the leech).

5. Stop each "leg" beginning at the clew in the same way you stopped the leeches.

6. Once you are done, the whole sail should be neatly tied with no loose piece of fabric dangling in search of an errant puff of wind.

7. Stuff any loose piece of nylon into the folds, otherwise it will catch the wind and foil your plans if given half a chance.

If dealing with buckets, bands, and spools of yarn is not your idea of a good time consider a sock. There are two kinds of socks: one that is used for packing and setting a spinnaker, and another that functions as a dousing sock and is used for both setting and dousing a spinnaker. Racing sailors will be familiar with the former, cruisers the latter. While a dousing sock sounds like a better option for all types of sailors, it involves a fiberglass hoop and a bunch of control lines that make it too heavy and unsuitable for racers to consider. Let's look at the racing option first.

Figure 12.1

Some spinnaker socks are full-length contraptions that are equal in length to the spinnaker leeches.

Figure 12.2 (far right)

Others are shortened versions with a diaper.

A dousing sock makes handling a spinnaker much easier.

A dousing sock makes handling a spinnaker much easier.

FULL-LENGTH SPINNAKER STOCK

SPINNAKER SOCK WITH DIAPER

Sock tapers toward the eead

Diaper sock is shorter than a regular sock so that legs can be stopped1

Zipper runs the length of the sock.

Clew

Clew

Clew

Sock tapers toward the eead

Zipper runs the length of the sock.

Diaper sock is shorter than a regular sock so that legs can be stopped1

Diaper held closed with Velcro.

Legs stopped with yarn.

Trip line attached to diaper.

Clew

Diaper held closed with Velcro.

Trip line attached to diaper.

Legs stopped with yarn.

Clew

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Responses

  • joseph
    How to pack spinnaker into sock?
    7 months ago

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