Spinnaker pole height: no downhaul, no adjustable height - SailNet Community

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Old 08-13-2010
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Spinnaker pole height: no downhaul, no adjustable height

Hello everyone,

So I've been learning to sail for a few months, and have been lucky enough to substitute in as crew (bowman) for three of the weekly races that my club and a neighboring one organize. They also have space during racing instruction for me, so I'm joining them since this past week.

I re-read Steve Colgate's Spinnaker Fundamentals and a question popped into my head again (couldn't get the original link to work no matter what I did, so here's a tinyurl to it). Our H-boats don't have a pole downhaul (foreguy?), and there is only a fixed point on the mast where the pole attaches. Steve notes:
  • 2. Since the spinnaker is a symmetrical sail, it should look symmetrical. Neither corner should be higher than the other. If the clew is higher than the tack, the pole should be raised to even them out.
  • 3. The pole should be perpendicular to the mast so it will hold the tack of the spinnaker as far away from the blanketing effect of the mainsail as possible. If the pole needs to be raised, as in rule 2, don't just pull the topping lift (which raises only the outboard end), but raise the inboard end also if it's adjustable.

My question then is: having only the topping lift to adjust the height of the pole, how should one balance the two objectives above? Go exclusively for equal height of clew and tack, or for a pole perpendicular to the mast? Try to do half-n-half? Does it depend on conditions?

Thanks in advance for your input...

And since I'm at it, how do you manage to bring the tack and clew together, lower the halyard, and dousing the spinnaker with two hands? Just uncleating the halyard and letting it go while doing the other two things will probably get it wet, won't it?

Last edited by aarhus; 08-13-2010 at 11:35 PM.
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Old 08-14-2010
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I'd recommend keeping the tack and clew the same height and let the pole's angle to the mast vary as needed.
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Depends... as always!

Keep them at the same height, which will usually be perpendicular to the mast. As you reach more and more (and possibly even go slightly upwind in less than say 10kt) you'll want to drop to pole as it nears the forestay, stretch the luff and get and drag the draft forward.

Assuming you have twings and only one set of sheets (the lazy sheet is the guy) then that's enough downhaul for the most part.


Two-handed, it's easiest to do a leeward drop if you have the choice, reason being is that you can leave the pole on. Jib up, sheet almost to upwind setting but not quite. Cleat off spinnaker sheet, keep the guy in your hand, position yourself between the companionway and the mast, grab spin sheet forward of twings and drop the guy, gather the foot, blow the halyard, dump it in the companionway. That approach should work up to about 15. 15+, I'd let the pole all the way forward, cleat off the guy there, haul in on the sheet to strap the thing, lower the halyard while gathering in the trailing edge & stuff below as much as possible, then ease guy and finish the stuffing. It all really depends on how confident/good you and the other guy are really.... there are lots of other options and in the end, the best thing is whatever works for you
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Old 08-14-2010
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You must have some one else on the boat that can ease the halyard to you?? Also why not put a proper pole down haul on ? Without one the pole can "sky" and also without one the pole will be bouncing around which is slow.

It is fairly common for boats to only have a mast ring instead of an adjustable track for the inboard end of the pole. They do tend to have two rings so that you have some choice about how high you are attaching the pole.
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Old 08-14-2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gary M View Post
You must have some one else on the boat that can ease the halyard to you?? Also why not put a proper pole down haul on ? Without one the pole can "sky" and also without one the pole will be bouncing around which is slow.

It is fairly common for boats to only have a mast ring instead of an adjustable track for the inboard end of the pole. They do tend to have two rings so that you have some choice about how high you are attaching the pole.
Some one design classes have fixed rings as part of their class rules to keep things simple and lower costs. The downward force of a twing line on the guy can also be just fine for many boats under 30', particularly if they're not flying masthead kites. A boat like an Etchells uses a 'foreguy' that runs from the bridal (mid pole) to the base of the mast so it's quick and easy to deploy and store the pole which is carried on the boom... again, it's a relatively small spinnaker, but the operative idea here is that there are many different ways to accomplish keeping the pole down on small boats.
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Old 08-16-2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by puddinlegs View Post
Some one design classes have fixed rings as part of their class rules to keep things simple and lower costs. The downward force of a twing line on the guy can also be just fine for many boats under 30', particularly if they're not flying masthead kites. A boat like an Etchells uses a 'foreguy' that runs from the bridal (mid pole) to the base of the mast so it's quick and easy to deploy and store the pole which is carried on the boom... again, it's a relatively small spinnaker, but the operative idea here is that there are many different ways to accomplish keeping the pole down on small boats.
We do have only one ring on the mast to attach the pole, and I think you're right that the twing (is that what we would call a barber haul? The one that the guy runs through is kept all the way down, while the other is completely let out so the spinnaker sheet is not pulled down) is enough to keep the pole down without bouncing.

We usually have three people on board. When it's time to douse the spinnaker, the bowman takes care of the pole while the person flying the spinnaker is in charge of dousing it. The skipper can help a bit with the guy, but that's pretty much it. So you need to gather the spinnaker and deal with the halyard at the same time. Maybe it's best to alternate the two, gathering/pulling and easing the halyard, to keep the spinnaker out of the water?
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