Fly Asymmetrical Cruising Spinnaker

HOW TO FLY AN ASYMMETRICAL CRUISING SPINNAKER

The "Flasher" and "Gennaker" are their trade names for an asymmetrical cruising spinnaker.   We used to call ours a "reachaway".   I now use the more generic "asymmetrical" term because since they were used in the America's Cup a few years back, most people are now familiar with what they are.

Although there are differences in cut, shape and sail area between the different brands, they are all set up the same way.  The following is what I recommend:

Setting up the sail - The head of the sail is attached to a spinnaker halyard.

The tack of the sail gets tied down to the bow with a tack line.  The length of this line is adjusted depending on the wind velocity and point of sail.  As you head up onto progressively tighter reaches, or sail in progressively lighter air, the line should be pulled tighter so the tack is closer to the deck.  The range of this adjustment will be about 4'.  From 2' off the deck to 6' off the deck.

The tack of the sail is also attached to the forestay either with one large snap hook (if you have a bare forestay-hanks) or with webbing and a hook (if you have a grooved luff system or furling system).

Two sheets are attached to the clew of the sail.  They should be led near the aft corner of the boat on each side.  The "lazy" or windward sheet should be led all the way around the bow and aft to the other side.  Each sheet needs to be about twice the length of the boat plus 10 feet.

To fly the sail - make sure tack line is set and cleated, bear off to a broad reach.  Raise halyard, sheet in and head up until the sail fills.  Fly the sail as you would a spinnaker- choose a steady course, let the sail out until the luff begins to curl, trim slightly.  Repeat. The ideal trim is with the sheet pulled in just enough to keep the sail from luffing - as it is on any spinnaker.

To gybe - bear off to a broad reach, easing the sheet as you go to keep the sail flying.  Turn the boat down to a run and when the spinnaker luffs, let the sheet all the way off.  Gybe the boom and trim in the spinnaker on the other side.  Head up to a reach to fill the sail, ease and trim the new sheet as needed.

To douse the sail - Bear off to a broad reach/run until the sail is blanketed by the mainsail and collapses.  Lower the sail slowly to the deck while gathering it in.  When the sail is all the way down, and the head and clew is under control (stuffed in the bag) go forward and remove the tack from the bow of the boat.  Head back up to your course.

Emergency douse - Trim the sheet as hard as you can and cleat it.  Release the halyard and let it run free.  Pull the sheet tight so the foot is absolutely strapped.  Reach over the side of the boat and gather the sail out of the water.

If you use a “Snuffer” or “Chute Case” sleeve for hoisting and dousing the sail, it is much easier.  We recommend the ATN brand of dousing sleeve.  For hoisting the above procedure is modified slightly as follows:

- Attach the halyard to the wire loop at the top of the sleeve.

- Attach your tack as above, and lead your sheets as described above.

- Raise the halyard.  The spinnaker sleeve with the sail encased looks like an upside down elephants trunk.

- Using the continuous line at the bottom of the sleeve, raise the sleeve, then loosely tie off this line, either to the mast or to a lifeline.

For lowering the sail with the sleeve, bear off to a run, blanket the sail behind the mainsail, luff the sheet, and pull down on the continuous line to pull the sleeve down over the sail.  Once the sail is “snuffed”, lower the halyard.

Most importantly, have fun.  A cruising spinnaker can be one of the most pleasurable sails to fly!

How to contact us

Via mail:
Vermont Sailing Partners
150 West Canal Street
Winooski, VT 05404

Via phone:
802-655-7245
802-655-SAIL

Via email:
info@vtsailing.com

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