During our training session last week we had a lot of practice hosting, flying and dropping the spinnaker. Although I’d say we’ve done it a fair few times before, I discovered some things which were new to me:

  • A nice hack: When you’ve connected all of your lines to the spinnaker, use a bit of tape to attach the halyard to the top guardrail. It stops it flailing around and when you’re ready to hoist, the tape simply breaks free as the halyard is raised.
  • It’s always good to practice (especially with new crew) from the safety of the marina. Instead of using the spinnaker itself, rig some lines into the shape of a triangle and use that as a dummy. Going through the motions and visualising it really does help.
  • OK, I’m probably the only one who hadn’t caught onto this one. I always knew you should hoist the spinnaker from behind the jib, but I’d never consciously realised why 😳😳. “Ghosting” it from behind the jib stops it filling before its hoisted. Obvious really.

Before we start let’s look at the basic differences between a standard spinnaker and an asymmetrical spinnaker (also called a gennaker).

  • The first is geometry. The asymmetrical has a distinct luff and leech. The tack is always the tack, and both sheets (if you plan on jibing) are tied onto the same corner (the clew), just like a genoa/jib.
  • The cross-sectional shaping isn’t usually uniform and semi-circular as with a spinnaker. This might help visualise it.
  • The asymmetrical/gennaker is rigged like a spinnaker but the tack, instead of being attached to a pole, is fastened to the hull or bowsprit.
  • In general there are less lines and poles to worry about so they’re easier to work with, especially if short handed. We’ve opted for one.
  • Often asymmetrical/gennakers come with a sock, or chute which makes hoisting/dropping them super simple.

Hoisting and dousing an asymmetrical spinnaker

Fly a symmetric spinnaker with confidence

Finally, what’s a Code 0?

Code 0 sails were developed from research done by competitors in the Volvo Ocean Race and the America’s Cup. A Code 0 is effectively a cross between a genoa and a spinnaker.

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