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post #1 of 3 Old 10-23-2010 Thread Starter
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Use of Spinnaker-San Juan 24

Hi Members. I am fairly new to sailing and have had my SJ 24( San Juan 24 ) for 9 months. I
usually sail single-handed and have learned alot this last summer and have just
had a blast with this wife still hears me mumbling as I walk around
the house "luff, front end; leech, back ", so can see were I'm at.

Anyway, I now want to venture out to use the spinnaker for the first time. I
have both symmetrical and asymmetrical spinnakers. Is one of them easier to
learn with? Are they rigged the same? Can someone walk me thru the setup and use
of the spinnaker?? The boat seems to be equipped quite well so I'm sure all the
gear/lines are there but just don't know what to do with it. Thanks for the

RoundAbout hull # 614
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post #2 of 3 Old 10-23-2010
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It sounds like you're well equipped...

The Asymm will be easier to deal with by yourself, if only because there's no pole to contend with during gybes. It will still be a handful and alone you'll need to watch your wind threshold because these boats can get a bit twitchy in a breeze, though the higher sailing angles with the A sail will help there too.

With an A sail you simply attach the tack (preferably to an adjustable tack line), sheets and halyard and hoist it out of the bag secured to the foredeck somewhere. The sheets for this need be quite long as you'll gybe the sail around/forward of the headstay. Other than that it's not that different from a jib gybe, but remember it's a much bigger sail....

The symmetrical spinn is a bit more versatile in that you can run much deeper with it, again, watching your wind threshold to avoid getting into excessive rolling in a breeze DDW. However it requires deploying the spinnaker pole.

This pole is supported by the pole lift or uphaul, and that is opposed by the downhaul. Generally the pole should be more or less level, unless the mast connection is fixed, then the outboard end is dictated by conditions and point of sail. Hang the pole by its pins (ie jaws facing up) on the mast ring. The guy (windward 'sheet') should go through the other end, under the pin. DO NOT clip the pole end to the sail itself. Your spinn sheets may have a plastic doughnut at the shackles - be sure the doughnut is between the sail and the pole end.

To set up, bag in foredeck or in the bow pulpit, pole attached and level, lead the guy-to-be out of the bag, through the pole and around outside everything, down the windward side to the cockpit (there should be a turning block on each rail near the stern) Take the sheet and go straight back to the turning block on the leeward side. Attach the halyard and you're set to go.

Choose a course on a broad reach, probably put the jib away for this first trial, and fully hoist the sail while pulling on the guy to bring the pole back to about a 45 deg angle... only once the sail is up should you pull the sheet to stretch things out and fill the sail. If it fills halfway up it will be difficult to hoist all the way. Be prepared for a shift in balance as the sail fills and be ready to steer to correct it. True wind of about 10 knots would be ideal for this.. many try to fly a kite the first time in too little wind.. makes it more difficult to control.

Once up, in general you want to have the pole at a 90 deg angle to the apparent wind (your windex) and place the outboard end of the pole at a height that more or less matches the flying height of the opposite clew.

Important points:

Adjust the sheet so that every once in a while the leading edge of the spinn wants to 'fold over' at approx 3/4 height.. if you haven't seen it do that for a minute or more you're probably oversheeted

If the entire luff inverts, your pole angle is wrong or you're sailing too high.

The center vertical seams of the sail should be vertical, top canted to weather means undersheeted, canted to leeward means oversheeted.

Gybing singlehanded takes a lot of practice and prep, and some means of self steering - tiller tied off or an autohelm. Ideally early on you should have some help.

Sail fairly square DDW and pull the pole back to match. The person on the foredeck should brace themselves firmly by the mast. As you gybe the main, your crew should have the sheet in hand, pole should be unclipped from the mast, sheet (new guy) inserted into the jaws, the pole passed across the boat and the other end released from the guy (new sheet) and clipped to the mast. During all all this you should turn the boat through 10-15 degrees. Settle the sail, reset the pole position and then trim and steer for the new gybe... Simple, right??


1984 Fast/Nicholson 345 "FastForward"

".. there is much you could do at sea with common sense.. and very little you could do without it.."
Capt G E Ericson (from "The Cruel Sea" by Nicholas Monsarrat)

Last edited by Faster; 10-23-2010 at 01:23 PM.
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post #3 of 3 Old 11-20-2010
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Dan, the best way to learn spinnaker use and trim is to do as I did... go race on other peoples boats first. On my SJ24 we have a 1/2 and 3/4 ounce sem chute and it powers up all she can handle. We do alot of one-design SJ24 races here in the Pacific North West, you can get on a sister boat at

Steve, Wiki Wiki #613
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