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Old 04-18-2013
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Can I sock a drifter?

No, I'm not thinking of punching a hobo. I am, however, trying to figure out a light-air sail arrangement for my boat for those frequent low-wind days here on the Chesapeake.

I am trying to decide between an asymmetric spinnaker and a drifter. Here is the situation:

1. Limited budget
2. my genoa is on a roller furler
3. No 2nd forestay
4. No bowsprit
5. Singlehanding
6. I'm Still fairly new to sailing


From what I understand a drifter might be a better all-purpose light-air sail. Is that accuate?

However, I'm not sure how I would launch or recover a drifter myself (especially if the wind picks up). Due to the above, it seems an asymmetric spinnaker with an ATN sock would be the easiest to install and handle.


Would an ATN sock work over a drifter? At Bacon sails there's a drifter that I believe I can set flying (it has a covered wire luff) that would run approximately half the cost of a new asymmetric for my 28' boat. If I could sock the drifter, it is my thought that I could rig and launch the drifter just like an asymetric spinnaker, but I'd get the benefit of a more versatile sail at a lower cost. However, things don't usually work out that well for me..

I would sincerely appreciate any input or guidance on these thoughts!!
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Old 04-18-2013
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Re: Can I sock a drifter?

No reason why a sock wouldn't work over a drifter, but I think by choosing a drifter over a cruising kite you're limiting yourself everywhere but 'close hauled'... this assuming you don't/won't have a symmetrical spinnaker as well...
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Re: Can I sock a drifter?

Faster,

Actually, I only have the 2 sails (genoa and main). From my google-fu, I got the impression that drifters were good all-purpose light-air sails. However like your post says, the folks at my local sail loft seemed to find this idea dubious and highly recommended a 0.75 oz asymmetric for a general purpose light air sail. Is there a type of cut (less full) that I want to look for in an asymmetric?

I am not trying to race, I really just want to keep moving on the light air days and I can only afford 1 sail this season (lots of other repair projects etc).

TIA!
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Re: Can I sock a drifter?

Yes, asymmetries can have different cuts. Some are cut more "full" like a symmetric, others more toward a code zero. Tell your sailmaker what you want to do and they can build the sail to suit.
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Re: Can I sock a drifter?

What mike sez.... you decide what your priority is.. is most of your real light air sailing upwind? If that's truly your condition then perhaps a drifter (which to me, means a ripstop nylon genoa, maybe a 170) is the right call. However if you're just as likely to be reaching or running then, while a drifter will be better than your regular genoa, it's not going to be as satisfying a sail as a proper midde-of-the-road Asymmetrical.

Your sailmaker's job is to make you happy....
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Re: Can I sock a drifter?

This information is great - thank you!

If this is going to be my only one, do you think should I lean towards a middle-sized asymmetric or should I try to get the very biggest my boat can fit? I figured in light wind it might be better to have a moderate one - not sure though.
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Re: Can I sock a drifter?

Why would you want to "sock a drifter"? They are not that hard to fly.
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Re: Can I sock a drifter?

Yeah the drifter is for a very narrow wind range. if the wind picks up beyond very light conditions you must take it down or you will destroy it.

An all purpose asymetric will be much more useful to you. You don't need the biggest one possible, because you want it to be manageable even when the wind picks up a bit. Don't worry, you will have plenty of horsepower; far more than a drifter will give you!
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Re: Can I sock a drifter?

Keep an eye out for the North Sails Direct Cruising Gennakers.

They show up used pretty often. The North Sails sock is very nice (the only other one that is as nice that I've seen is the ATN) and they usually come with them. The sails come in 3' luff length increments that cover most both lengths (it looks like your San Juan 28 would want the 36' luff length sail). The cut is designed for cruisers and covers many wind angles. They aren't pushing the limits on size, so they are easier to handle on a short handed boat.

I've owned two, one on the Catalina 25 (30' luff) and one on my Pearson 28-2 (36' luff). Both were bought used and in very good condition for a fraction of what a new one costs. I've played with drifters too, but really didn't like them.
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Re: Can I sock a drifter?

an asym is a lot more fun. a drifter is just that, to be used going up wind when you really are just drifting. unless you are racing or have no engine most don't really want to have to sail when you need a drifter up, on goes the engine and the drifter remains in the bag yet another day. it is not much fun. the a sail will be a lot more versatile and will be used a lot more often. they are just more fun to sail with, be it downwind or on a reach. when the wind is light going downwind without one can be very slow.
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