Using Symmetrical and Asymmetrical Spinnakers

One advantage of asymmetrical spinnakers is that they are often much easier to set and douse when under sail. Conventional spinnakers can be fairly complicated to use requiring a number of different sheets and guys attached to the sail, to say nothing of a spinnaker pole that has its own topping lift to hold the outboard end of the pole up and downhaul to hold the outboard end down. It's no wonder the sail can sometimes be intimidating. In the chapter on sail handling we will discuss some basic ways to manage spinnakers as well as some innovative ways to get a spinnaker down, especially when the wind is freshening.

The asymmetrical spinnaker, on the other hand, is in many ways a far more practical and efficient sail since it is usually not set with a spinnaker pole but simply tacked to the bow of the boat or to a bowsprit from which it is then hoisted

"... some of the wind's energy is being used simply to lift and fill the sail so the rest can be translated into boat speed."

Dousing Spinnaker
Conventional spinnakers can be fairly complicated to use requiring a number of different sheets and guys attached to the sail, to say nothing of a spinnaker pole that has its own topping lift to hold the outboard end of the pole up and downhaul to hold the outboard end down.

with a spinnaker halyard. By omitting the pole projecting off the mast, the process of setting and dousing the spinnaker is greatly simplified, and the sail becomes more manageable. Note that if your boat has a bowsprit, the sail will work that much better since the sprit gets the sail out and away from the dead air behind the mainsail. The leech of the sail is usually quite a bit shorter than the luff, and the shape of the sail is vastly different than that of a conventional symmetrical spinnaker. The asymmetrical spinnaker also has a much more efficient shape for reaching (Figure 8.7). The wind is able to remain attached all the way across the sail providing drive as well as lift.

An asymmetrical spinnaker does have some drawbacks when compared to a conventional spinnaker and this has to do with jibing and rotating the sail aft once the wind comes from behind. Because symmetrical spinnakers are just that - symmetrical - they can be easily jibed with the old clew becoming the new tack and vice versa. But it's a different story with an asymmetrical spinnaker. Jibing means either dropping the sail, changing the sheets, and resetting the sail on the other jibe, or performing a complex maneuver that involves floating the sail around the front of the headstay and dragging the clew, foot, and leech aft, a little like jibing a genoa with a second forestay or babystay in the way. Asymmetricals tacked to the bow or a bowsprit are also less efficient when sailing on a broad reach or dead run since there is no way to rotate the tack of the sail to windward as is the case with a spinnaker on a conventional pole. As a

ASYMMETRIC SPINNAKER

Wind direction

Wind direction

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Responses

  • Sheshy
    Can you use a symmetrical spinnaker when the boat calls for an asymmetrical sipnnaker?
    4 months ago

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