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KattyC 12-09-2012 12:34 AM

Researching spinnakers
I am looking into buying a spinnaker for my husband for Christmas. He sails a Beneteau First 235. I know nothing about buying sails, so I would appreciate any knowledge that can be passed on regarding what size, which brand, and anything else that would be useful in making this decision. Thanks, KattyC

Stumble 12-09-2012 01:21 AM

Re: Researching spinnakers

A spinnaker needs to be made to fit a specific boat. Much like a tailored suit you can buy an off the shelf one, and will look ok, but a custom fit one will always look much better. The difference is that a custom spinnaker is typically only about 10-20% more than an off the shelf one.

Given the time to build and deliver a new spinnaker, I don't think there is any way you could expect to have one delivered by Christmas. My suggestion is to speak with a local sailmaker and ask him to bill you for one directly, and let him know that your husband will be coming in after Christmas to pick out what he wants. There are significant variations in size, style, color, shape, cut, ect that need to be based out and unless you can provide this to the sailmaker it won't come out the way it should.

Minnewaska 12-09-2012 01:52 AM

Re: Researching spinnakers
+1 with Stumble

There are so many different cuts and cloth weights for different uses, you could really waste a ton of money if you guessed which he really wanted and for what conditions. It's much more than how they look, it's how they work.

AdamLein 12-09-2012 05:12 AM

Re: Researching spinnakers
What a great idea for a Christmas gift!

One thing to consider is that there are two different kinds of spinnakers, and each requires that the boat have some extra hardware that a basic boat might not come with. Each type of spinnaker requires different hardware, with only a small amount of overlap. For example, both require extra long lines to run from the sail's corners all the way aft (I think twice the length of the boat, including the bowsprit if it has one, is the usual rule of thumb).

I had a quick look on Google at the Beneteau First 235 and it looks like a fractional rig, which means you might need some hardware installed inside the mast. You'll also need turning blocks at the transom and possibly a second set of winches. Maybe others can chime in to let us know what is standard on the First 235?

So if you want to help your husband get going towards a spinnaker setup, you probably can't go wrong with a pair of quality (low-stretch) sheets and the hardware to run them aft. And it should be possible to pick this stuff up before Christmas :)

Oooh, he can unwrap it on Christmas morning and say, "But I don't have a spinnaker OH WAIT!!"

Minnewaska 12-09-2012 07:15 AM

Re: Researching spinnakers
Adam's idea is fantastic! At least the spinnaker sheets (lines). The blocks may need to have more specific thought and I would hope you could use the existing jib winches. Having to add winches is a huge expense and effort.

By the way, I'm a fan of Quantum Sails. Quantum Sail Design Group :: Premier Sail Design and Development

If you say where you are located, there are likely members that can suggest a local loft to speak with. They could probably tell you the right line to buy and how long and you could wrap a picture of a spinnaker from their catalog. By the way, there are more sizes and types of lines than there are spinnakers, so you'll want to ask.

Good luck. You mind speaking to my wife? :)

Faster 12-09-2012 10:32 AM

Re: Researching spinnakers
Nice idea, plenty of good advice above. Lead time for most sailmakers is upwards of 6-8 weeks so by Christmas just isn't going to happen unless you get really lucky and find a sailmaker with an appropriate sail that someone didn't pick up.

Another route is to go to an on-line sailmaker's site like FX sails, and run through the estimator - that will likely give you some dimensions and approx. price (quite a bit less than locals as a rule.. but similar wait times) With these dimensions at least you'll have an idea of what to look for elsewhere.

If the boat's not been rigged for a spinnaker yet there's almost as much money in the gear, lines and rig modifications as the sail itself so it's not an inexpensive proposition.

Here's the link to FX..... Custom Cruising and Racing Spinnakers from FX Sails

KattyC 12-09-2012 10:50 AM

Re: Researching spinnakers
Thanks to all of you for this great feedback. I had a feeling it would be more complicated and expensive than I thought. That's okay, though. I'm not giving up.

I originally didn't say anything about myself, because I don't want my husband to recognize me on this site. But if anyone knows of a sail maker in Utah, I'd love the contact information.

I think my plan for Christmas will be to make a "spinnaker" beer label for his next batch of home brew and give that to him along with this string of great information and hopefully a local sail maker's contact info. Oh and maybe 20 x $100 bills, as it sounds like that is about what it will cost for the spinnaker and gear to go along with it. Good thing I've been saving my pennies :)

Faster 12-09-2012 12:28 PM

Re: Researching spinnakers
The FX estimator shows $900 for an asymmetrical spinnaker (needs only halyard, sheets and maybe a sock/snuffer) and near $1300 for a symmetrical spinnaker that would need a pole, lift and downhaul plus the sheets and halyard & hardware. Local prices are likely to be higher.

In any event by the time the dust has cleared you'll be well into the +$2k - but all in all a worthwhile addition. Initially he'll certainly need your help in flying it, you can learn together!

Minnewaska 12-09-2012 12:51 PM

Re: Researching spinnakers
Personally, unless racing directly downwind, I see no justification for a symmetrical spinnaker any longer. They are harder to fly and require more stuff (ie spinn pole and mast attachments). However, they've made so many different asymmetrical spinnakers that one really needs to decide what they want to do with it.

jameswilson29 12-09-2012 02:38 PM

Re: Researching spinnakers
I had an asymmetrical spinnaker on my P26 and I now have a symmetrical spinnaker on my P28. The symmetrical spinnaker is a vast improvement on a smaller boat. The pole allows such greater projection of the luff of sail, even on a boat with a relatively large J dimension. People make a big deal out of raising and dousing the sail, when actually the most difficult aspect is jibing in stronger winds while sailing solo.

While an asymmetrical may be a useful addition to a sail inventory, particularly for a closer reaching angle, I will always start first with a symmetrical spinnaker in building a sail inventory on any boat from now on.

Your husband will probably be happy to add the additional gear. Nice present, BTW!

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