Learn How to Sail - Sailing with a SpinnakerA spinnaker is a large sail that replaces the Genoa in light winds, it has its own technique when spinnaker handling and it must be emphasized at this stage, that there is no substitute for practice or development to flying a spinnaker.
A spinnaker is probably one of the more difficult sails to hoist, being in light winds and a large sail area it can have a tendency to twist and tangle around the forestay if not hoisted correctly.
Firstly the spinnaker should be packed into its sailing bag in the correct manner. The port, starboard and halyard connection eyes should be tide off to the sail bag top after packing the spinnaker into the sail bag, and in preparation of connecting the port, starboard sheets and the spinnaker halyard.
Equipment and rigging a spinnaker.
There are many different makes of equipment from which to choose when equipping a new boat. Choose the most suitable for your boat that will take the appropriate loads and size of spinnaker.
You will require a spinnaker pole that is the correct length and diameter for your boat, it will have an up & down haul mid connection eyes, the end connections should be snap-on stainless steel piston type with quick release trip lines.
The spinnaker pole will connect to the mast by clipping one piston end of the spinnaker pole onto the fixed eye on the mast. The up haul and down haul system should then be connected to the mid pole eyes. The other end of the spinnaker pole will be clipped to either the port or starboard sheets whichever is on the windward side of your point of sail, it should not be connected to the clew of the spinnaker. The object of the pole is to help the wind flow into the sail area and maintain the shape of the spinnaker.
The up haul and down haul system will be fully adjustable and controlled from the cockpit. The down haul will be taking the entire load from the spinnaker and should be rigged accordingly. The up haul will hold the pole in a horizontal position when set.
The port & starboard sheets will be connected to the spinnaker and then run back to the stern of the boat and round a suitable roller cleats and returned to the spinnaker winches, therefore being controlled from the cockpit of the boat.
The spinnaker halyard should have a swivel connection to the spinnaker head; this will help the spinnaker in adjusting itself when being hoisted.
You are now ready to hoist the spinnaker, steer the boat with a favourable windward intake into the spinnaker. You will need one crew at the spinnaker bag to assist the emptying of the sail and free any tangling that might happen thus, shaking it free.
The main spinnaker halyard should be hoisted as quickly as possible but keeping one eye on the spinnakers wind filling progress and adjusting the port and starboard sheets as required. The spinnaker pole can be finally adjusted when the spinnaker is fully hoisted with the up and down haul winches.
When you come to dropping the spinnaker sail it should be undertaken as follows;
Use the port or starboard sheet that is on the leeward side of the sail i.e. the opposite side to the spinnaker poles position. On the command of the skipper the spinnaker halyard will be released and dropped under control, at the same time a crew member will pull in the sail using the port or starboard sheet chosen and trying not to get the spinnaker sail in the water!. The spinnaker sail could then be packed back into its sail bag correctly ready for re-hoisting at a future time.
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