Join Date: Feb 2000
Location: Annapolis, Md
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Spinnakers and snuufers in racing
In nearly 40 years of racing, I have never been on a race boat that used a snuffer. I know that locally J-105''s originally tried using snuffers and quickly abandoned them. I have used them on cruising boats.
For racing (and perhaps for cruising as well) snuffers are too slow to raise and drop. Snuffers have way too high a risk of a wrap. Frankly, with even a ''half fast'' crew, raising and lowering a spinacker is just no big deal.
Maybe this is just me but I personally don''t get this whole snuffer thing. I know that cruisers seem to swear by them but its is so easy with a snuffer to get a wrap, and it so much easier to do a simple raise and do a "flag" drop (in the lee of the mainsail) that I have concluded that people use snuffers on small boats (under 40-42 feet) because they percieve that using a spinacker is less intimidating with a snuffer rather than because a snuffer actually makes things easier.
The hot ticket if you want to race in a spinacker class is to get out there with your crew and practice. Start by doing simple raises (spin turtle on the bow pulpit) and drops (turn close to downwind, rotate the pole forward, really tighten down the spin sheet and get it in hand, blow the snap shackle on the guy, and pull the chute down the leeward side of the main. It is an easy safe drop (and the one that I use when I singlehand under spinacker). The problem with this drop for racing is that you have to rerun the guy. When you have mastered the simple raises and drops, work your way up to doing other types of drops.
With a little practice you''ll find that using a snuffer is actually far harder than simply launching and retrieving a spinacker without one. I suspect you won''t go back to using a snuffer again. Then again maybe this is just me.