Symmetrical Versus Asymmetrical Spinnakers

Even though the first spinnakers were in fact asymmetrical, they were quickly replaced by symmetrical spinnakers, and that's the kind of sail that became popular and recognized on sailboats all over the world. To clarify the difference: A symmetrical spinnaker is just that. Both sides of the sail are symmetrical in shape and geometry. This symmetry is divided by the center seam that runs from the head of the sail down to the mid-point of the foot. An asymmetrical spinnaker, on the other hand, looks like a cross between a regular spinnaker and a large headsail (Figure 8.5). The luff is quite a bit longer than the leech, and the body of the sail has most of its shape about 35- to 40-percent aft from the luff with the back end relatively flat. Because asymmetrical spinnakers are easier to fly, perform better in almost all conditions except dead downwind, and are easier to manage, they are steadily gaining in popularity. For now though, symmetrical spinnakers are still more common.

Figure 8.5

An asymmetrical spinnaker looks like a cross between a regular spinnaker and a large headsail.


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