Originally Posted by Hawkwind
I've been thinking of getting an asymetrical.
I was looking at the picture on the linked page that SVAuspicious posted showing the tacker. I wonder if jibing might be a problem. It looks like the downhaul would wrap partially around the furled sail causing chafing on the sail or cover cloth and possibly get tangled.
Is this because it's using a standard symetrical spinaker? Does an asymetrical jibe like a jib/genny? Since I usually sail solo, I would rather not spend a lot of time on the fore deck.
I understood that the product called "The Tacker" was originally conceived to help make a standard symetrical behave like a cruising/asym spinnaker, by pinning one clew down as a tack and eliminating the pole. I'm not sure why someone would use it if they already have a true asym/cruising chute.
Generally, the further forward and to windward you can get the sail, usually the better it will fly. With a sprit, such as on a Melges 24 and most J decimeter boats, you can really get the asym out in front of the boat, which when reaching helps to move it farther to windward out of the mainsail's windshadow. You can effect almost the same result with a conventional spinnaker pole that is secured and rigged to extend beyond the bow of the boat more-or-less at deck level.
Our tack line is a fixed length, and it still works well enough for how we sail our cruising boat (our boat does have a short 2' sprit/anchor platform to which the tack line is shackled outboard). The tack of the sail just floats out there and does its own thing. If we feel we need to tighten or ease the luff, we can adjust halyard tension. But it is certainly best to have an adjustable tack line. As a general guide, the higher you reach the tighter the tack line gets pulled, and the deeper you sail the more it gets eased.
To jibe an asym chute, it is somewhat similar to jibing a big genoa. Turn the boat deeper downwind, so the chute becomes increasingly blanketed by the mainsail. Ease the working sheet to allow the clew to float forward until it is about even with the headstay. At this point begin pulling on the lazy sheet as quickly as you can, to pull the clew across the bow and jibe the chute to the other side. Then jibe the mainsail over and reach up a bit to fill the chute on the opposite tack (if you have good crew you can jibe the mainsail almost simultaneously).
That is how it's done if you are rigged for an "inside jibe". Rigging for an inside jibe is pretty much the standard approach. All this means is that the clew of the asym chute gets pulled across between the headstay and the tack/luff of the chute when jibing. To rig for an inside jibe, you lead one of the spin sheets around the headstay but aft of the chute luff (between tack and sailhead) before tying it off on the clew of the spinnaker.
There is another jibe method called the "outside jibe". It is rarely used, usually only in heavy air. To rig for an outside jibe, one of the spin sheets is lead forward and outboard of the spinnaker luff before coming around the sail, under the foot, and tied off back at the clew. To execute an outside jibe, it is much the same as an inside jibe except that the clew of the sail is permitted to drift further forward of the luff, then the lazy sheet is pulled and the sail snaps over to the other tack, but the clew traces a path out in front of the boat rather than between the luff of the chute and the headstay. One downside to rigging for an outside jibe is that the lazy sheet can fall under the boat because it is not resting on the pulpit or otherwise supported by the tack line.
I've mentioned here before that we get good results by tucking a reef in the mainsail when flying the asym, particularly in light air, or when we're trying to sail very deep downwind. This allows air to spill past the mainsail and fill the chute nicely. The chute is so large that the penalty for losing mainsail area is more than off-set by flying the chute efficiently. Ours is a mast-head rig, and this tactic probably wouldn't work well with a fractional rig unless you also have a mast-head spin halyard.
Man, this is a wordy post. Apologies to anyone who made it this far...