Precision Sails Blog
A spinnaker is downwind sail set at the bow which billows when it catches the wind. Lightweight and custom made for the wind range you plan to sail in. All of our spinnakers are radial designed and stitched together expertly to prolong their life.
A symmetrical spinnaker, as it sounds, is balanced and proportional. Both sides of the sail are mirror images of each other. Making the luff and Leech the same length. This makes a symmetrical spinnaker ideal for dead down-wind runs or broad reaches. When using a symmetrical spinnaker on a catamaran you may not need to use a spinnaker pole to offset the tack, however, monohulls will find a pole or spinnaker tacker necessary for use.
Sailing Nahoa Flying Their Symmetrical Spinnaker
Controlled by sheet and guy lines from the Tack and Clew. The guy is attached to the Tack and is steadied by a pole. The sheet is attached to the clew and controls the shape of the sail. These lines will be interchanged when gybing. Lines should be run outside of the rigging and lifelines, to blocks and then winches for trimming.
Red Is The Guy Line | Green Is The Sheet
The spinnaker pole should be parallel to the water/deck and set to the opposite side of the boom to avoid hitting the forestay.
On some catamarans, a pole is not necessary for dead down-wind sailing as the clew and tack can be run to blocks at either side of the front of the boat. A spinnaker tacker can also be used to fly a symmetrical like an asymmetrical without a pole.
Spinnaker Tacker Set Above The Pulpit On The Furled Headsail
Gybing and Trimming
Trimming your symmetrical spinnaker is mostly done with the sheet rather than the guy line. Keep an eye on the edge of the sail. If you notice it beginning to curl that means you are pointing too high. This can overpower your boat and cause you to sail through your apparent wind causing the spinnaker to go slack. If this happens you can either adjust the tension on the sheet and guy or drop off and continue heading downwind.
When you need to gybe, disconnect the pole from the mast and the guy line, this is often done by pulling a wire on the pole itself. Once disconnected flip the pole around making sure it is on the other side of the forestay. Connect the post-mast clamp to the old sheet, which will now become the guy line. Clip the other end (post-guy line side of the pole) to the mast. Tighten up the sheet and guy lines to trim in the new position. Gybing with a symmetrical spinnaker is easy to do with some practice and can typically be handled by a short handed crew as long as they have practiced and have a plan.
An asymmetrical spinnaker has a dedicated tack and clew with a variation between the length of the luff and leech. Asymmetrical spinnakers are capable of handling a much wider range of angles and are ideal for running and broad-reaching. They do not require a spinnaker pole or tacker to use.
SV Delos Flying Their Asymmetrical Spinnaker On Their Mizzen Mast
As with a symmetrical spinnaker, the head attaches to your spinnaker halyard. Attach the Tack using a tackline running to a bowsprit block and run the line back to the cockpit to a halyard winch. In lighter winds, the tackline should be trimmed to be brought closer to the deck for better performance. If you do not have a bowsprit block you can DIY a block in front of the pulpit. All sheets should be run outside of lifelines to blocks and then to winches at the aft.Unlike a symmetrical spinnaker, the clew of the asymmetrical has two sheets. One is the lazy sheet, waiting to be used, and the other is the sheet used for trimming. Both sheets will run from an aft winch to a block outside of the lifelines up to the bow on each side. Because the lazy sheet must pass around the forestay to the clew position on the other side both sheets must be long to accommodate gybing.
The Tackline Connecting The Tack To A Block
Gybing and Trimming
Watch the edge of the sail for any curl. Loosen the sheets or adjust course to maintain sail shape. If you notice your sail is luffing you will need to pull the sheets in.
To Gybe with an asymmetrical ease the sheet on a broad reach, before turning onto a run and letting the sheet off. The Clew of the sail will now pass between the tack and the forestay. Tighten the lazy sheet as the sail luffs and trim accordingly. The old sheet will now become the lazy sheet.
Packing a Spinnaker
To efficiently launch a spinnaker from a turtle bag, some preparation is needed to make sure that twist does not occur. Because spinnakers are such large and powerful sails the goal of packing the spinnaker is for it to billow out and open quickly. Hold the Clew and Tack together and begin stuffing the excess material into the bag. Make sure that the leech and luff are coming together before being stuffed into the bag. By folding the spinnaker in half like this you will minimize errors when launching. Keep stuffing the spinnaker into the bag until all three corners are coming out of the top. Clip the turtle bag to your lifelines and you are good to go.
A Spinnaker Sock does not require you to pack the sail away as it gathers and contains the spinnaker as it is lowered.
Tip: Keep the Head, Tack, and Clew organized with clear labels.
Dousing the Spinnaker With a Turtle Bag
When you are finished with the spinnaker ease the sheets and release the halyard to begin lowering and stuffing the sail into your bag. Make sure to pack the spinnaker away so that you can easily use it again when needed.
Learn More About Turtle Bags
Dousing the Spinnaker With a Sock
Ease the sheets and lower the sock. Once it has contained the spinnaker lower the sock and stuff it into a bag for easy storage and management.
Learn More About Spinnaker Socks
Ready to Hoist (Symmetrical Spinnakers)
Attach the Spinnaker Pole
Clip the pole to the mast with its jaws facing up. Use the ring in the middle to attach the topping lift and attach the downhaul to the ring on the bottom. This will keep tension on the pole and keep it in the right position.
Connect the Sheet, Halyard, and Guy lines
Connect the other end of the pole to the guy line. This will become the tack of the sail. Run the sheet to the other corner of the spinnaker and attach the halyard to the head of the sail. Double-check to make sure your lines are tangle-free.
Raise Pole into Position
Raise the topping lift and tighten the down-haul until the pole is horizontal with the water/deck.
Hoist the Halyard and Trim
Hoist the spinnaker using the halyard and tighten the guy line to trim the spinnaker and position of the pole. The spinnaker should billow and open up but a little twist in the sail will free itself.
When using a spinnaker sock hoist the sock, ease the sheets and then release the spinnaker by raising the snuffer. Tension and trim appropriately to avoid twist.
Ready to Hoist (Asymmetrical Spinnakers)
Prepare the Tack and Tackline
Attach the Tack to the Tackline and trim it to the height required.
Raise the Halyard
Raise the Halyard and let the sail billow out. If you are using a spinnaker sock hoist the sock and then raise and tie off the snuffer to open the sail.
Alter Course and Trim
Once your spinnaker is hoisted maintain a good course and trim the sheet and tackline.
Jib Vs Genoa Jibs and Genoas are triangular sails which are affixed to a stay in front of the mast. Typically they run from the head of the foremast to the bowsprit. Jibs and genoa's are used in tandem with a mainsail to stabilize the vessel and are usually measured by their Luff Perpendicular percentage, that is, how [...]
Francois Hebert S.V. Trioomph Corsair F27 R Trimaran Francois Hebert works as the General Manager and head coach at the Whistler Sailing School. He recently went through the process of ordering sails from Precision Sails for his Corsair F27 R trimaran, "Trioomph". Trioomph's mainsail and furling jib were made using Warp Drive sailcloth from our Precision Tri-Radial Series. The [...]
Reefing 101 Reefing is meant to increase your ease-of-use, flatten sail shape, reduce sail area, and re-position the boat's center of effort. This reduces heeling and de-powers your sails to improve safety and stability in rough weather. Reefing is an important part of sailing to learn and understand how to do efficiently and effectively. This guide is meant [...]
Owen Harren S. V. Event Horizon 1986 J40 S.V. Event Horizon When we purchased our J 40 she came with several Dacron sails in “good” condition. After a few months of racing it was apparent we had exceeded both their performance and life expectancy. My wife and I contacted several local, commonly known sailmakers who were unresponsive or very “non-customer service focused”. [...]
A leech line is attached at the head of your sail and runs down to just above the clew. This line can be usually be adjusted using cleats, or Velcro tabs at the clew or intermediately at reefs. Tensioning this line reduces flutter in the trailing edge of the sail and improves sail shape. Foot lines run along [...]
Matt Parsons S. V. Gudgeon Hunter 36 - Cherubini Design I got my sailboat, Gudgeon, on a whim. I’d heard you could live on a sailboat and so I bought the first one I set foot on, a rather tired Cherubini designed Hunter 36. Built in 1980, she was older than I was and though kinda overbuilt as was common for [...]
Checking the condition of your sails is a major component of regular maintenance. It can prevent small issues from becoming larger disasters in the future. And when purchasing a boat can inform you about the upkeep and age of the sails from the prior owner. Unfortunately, it is probably one of the more mundane tasks during an [...]
The Hidden Truth of UV RaysSailcloth is made up of smaller threads which are strung together as warp and fill fibers designed to take on the specific load bearing needs of a sail's design. You can read more about that here. These fibers are susceptible to UV damage as the rays begin to degrade [...]
Crosscut and Tri-Radial Sails Anyone looking at replacing their sails will have come across the terms crosscut, and tri-radial. These are the two most common configurations of panel construction in sails. Crosscut vs Tri-RadialCrosscut Crosscut sails are made of a series of panels sewn parallel to the foot in a “stacking” pattern. This sail configuration is the most economical of [...]