spinnaker is a
challenging and exciting sail. The vast majority of hairy sailing
stories in most repertoires revolve around the spinnaker. This
the need for good functional gear as follows:
A good spinnaker
with sturdy, easy-to-use end fittings is essential. There are a
of pole systems in use in Wayfarers, (almost) all of which have the
1. a positive,
adjustable uphaul (topping lift) leading aft to the helm
to the uphaul to facilitate storage along the boom
3. a downhaul
is at least partially shock-corded to retract excess downhaul while the
pole is stored along the boom
which on most boats hits the deck just forward of the back tank -
aft is possible but has yet to show racing advantages.
The one crucial
sheet cleating need is just aft of each shroud although many boats have
a second set of cleats on or near the centre thwart.
To keep the pole
skying and the guy (=windward sheet) off the crew’s neck, a guy hook is
should also lead aft to the helm.
and halyard to the spi:
A Bowline (or
even fancier knot) is perfectly adequate to tie sheets and halyards to
the spi. To save weight and avoid various potential breakdowns,
metal connectors (especially snap hooks) should be avoided.
1) pre-cleat the
sheet for the first reach before the start
2) just before
crew releases halyard from stowed position (and often sets pole).
Helm (pre-)sets topping lift for “ball park” pole height.
1) Helm stands
steers with his knees as he hoists while crew hikes and plays main if
the crew also has to briefly strap the jib in tight to free spi which
caught under jib foot.
2) Helm hikes
plays main while crew fixes pole.
3) Crew takes
plays both sheets til crew has set pole.
can be tricky, especially on a reach. Those who try a windward
usually opt for the “chucker”: the crew bundles the spi and on the
of three, the crews throws while the skipper QUICKLY hoists.
The outboard pole end should be just high enough to give the spi luff a
nice fair vertical curve - lower than that if, on a close reach, we
to loosen the spi leech to reduce
Pole much lower than normal if the wind is too weak to lift spi cloth
Bring pole aft until spi shows that it needs to be further forward,
the angle made by luff and foot gets down near or, God forbid,
90º (see diagram below)
does all the sheet work on a reach-to-reach gybe, especially in a blow
where the helm is busy steering through the gybe. see also the “balls
system” which permits us to easily pre-set the new windward sheet
Then the crew’s
other duty just prior to the gybe is to bring (most of) the spi to the
side that’s about to become leeward.
During and right
the gybe, our first priorities are
1) keep the boat
2) keep the boat
away from the mark and protect our wind by ensuring that both main and
jib are played properly.
The spi is
until that is taken care of.
Lastly, the crew
the pole and sheets in.
On a run-to-run
helm takes both sheets and steers through gybe with his knees while
to keep spi flying until crew is ready to take the sheet. Unless it's
time, in which case, I concentrate on gybing with my hand on the tiller
and let the crew do the rest!
Helm checks that
halyard is not tangled by holding it up over his head while standing
as the crew steps in front of the windward jib sheet and stows the pole.
We do this early
severely pressed to maintain buoy room, etc. On a run, the pole
down really early, as the helm can easily take the sheets and keep the
spi flying without the pole. At word from helm, crew quickly
spi down while helm exerts gentle resistance by holding halyard (and in
wild weather, the sheet!) in one hand, i.e. crew has to pull these away
from helm so the spi and/or sheet cannot accidentally get under the bow
by simply being let go.
To help us to
from sailing over the sheet we also have a little 4” stainless steel
loop sticking out from bow at deck level.
WIT home page
The Spi is very
dumped into its bag or onto the floor as it comes down - make sure
it stows in
of windward jib sheet by having the crew step in front of that jib
before the take-down!!
The Pole goes
the boom, being supported at its aft end by a loop about 5’6” aft along
the boom, and at its forward end, by its permanent residence in the
After the pole
in, the bow end will be angled up. If desired, this can be
by the helm as time permits. We have the correct spot for level
stowage marked on the topping lift.
To keep the
out of the crew’s face, we run it around a hook near the shroud and
into a small black clam-cleat near the mast which keeps most of the
alongside the shroud.