The spinnaker is one of those large, unruly, lesser used sails that can strike fear into the calmest of cruisers. It brings a unique set of challenges to launch and recover, but once it is up and flying, it is surely one of the most glorious sails in the wardrobe.
We get asked a lot at Rubicon 3 Adventure how best to launch, trim recover a spinnaker, so here is our guide to what to do.
Launching the spinnaker
First, attach the spinnaker bag to the downwind side of the boat, approximately half way between the bow and the mast. Make sure you can see both clews and the head.
Lead the active guy and lazy sheet combo around the forestay, through the up-facing jaws of the pole (the sheet should not go through the jaws) and attach to the forward clew of the spinnaker.
Attach the sheet to the aft clew, making sure it leads outside of everything on the boat between the sail and the aft quarter lead.
Attach the inboard end of the pole to the mast. Make sure you are standing inboard of the pole, so that you don’t accidentally get pushed overboard.
Attach the pole up and foreguy (often the spare gybe preventer)
Attach the halyard to the head of the spinnaker
Raise the inboard end of the pole to the appropriate height (you need to know your own boat or go for trial and error until you know).
Raise the outboard end of the pole and adjust until it is on a beam reach setting (ie 10-20° off the bow. This will help prevent the sail from filling as it goes up.
Come onto a broad reach, to get as much of the sail hidden by the main as possible
Ensure the sheet is slack, to prevent the sail from filling until it is fully hoisted.
Now hoist as fast as you can, making sure to get the halyard to the very top. If you don’t make it in time and the sail opens, be ready to winch!
Once the halyard is set, you can adjust the pole and sail to the correct angle for the wind and you are away!
Next time, we’ll look at how to trim the spinnaker