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  #1  
Old 04-24-2002
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Spinnakers and snuufers in racing

My question relates to spinnaker use - I have been taught using snuffers to launch and collapse spinnakers and found them convenient and quick, not to mention easy for a novice crew like me. However, I am told that they are almost never used in racing. Is this correct? If so, what is the reason? What are the pros and cons of using a snuffer for a spinnaker in racing conditions?
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Old 04-24-2002
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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.

Jeff
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Old 04-24-2002
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Spinnakers and snuufers in racing

Jeff,
The real value of the snuffer is for short handed crews. I have been flying an asymetrical with a sock on a 36'' boat for many years and with the help of the auto pilot am able to raise,lower and fly it single handed. I will shortly be moving up to a 43'' and expect to be able to do the same there. I can''t imagine doing it without a snuffer.
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Spinnakers and snuufers in racing

I have been thinking about this question on and off all day. For cruising I think you are right that with a boat set up the way most cruising boats are set up with mast mounted halyards, I suspect that it is easier to use a snuffer because you have a longish walk from the sheet the halyard. But for cruising or single-handing with aft lead halyards, I think that it is probably easier to just raise and douse without a snuffer.

For racing, no matter how big a boat, or how the halyards are rigged, I really don''t think a snuffer makes any sense.

Jeff
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Old 04-24-2002
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Spinnakers and snuufers in racing

Snuffers would offer a lot of windage and add more lines and chances of fouling them in busy mark-roundings. An idea I''ve thought about (but not used myself, yet) is a belly-button retriever line, led from the center of the sail down to the hatch you want the sail doused into. Like on a Fireball with a spinnaker launching chute, the halyard, sheet and guy are released and the belly-button line is pulled smartly in. The sail collapses and is drawn into the hatch, where it is ready to hoist again whenever it''s needed.
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Old 04-25-2002
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Spinnakers and snuufers in racing

Paul,
I am intrigued by the idea of a belly button retriever. Is this used or just an idea of your own? I would like to pursue this further. It sounds a little like you could turn your fore hatch into what would in effect be an inverted snuffer but with none of the problems of a snuffer rigged the normal way.

Would the belly button line risk reducing the efficiency of the spinnaker while flying? How would the line be attached? Presumably it would mean some serious modifications to the sail?

Thank you and thanks also to the other contributors to this thread - very useful for a relative novice like myself!
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Old 04-25-2002
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Spinnakers and snuufers in racing

Belly button retrievers are pretty common on small high performance dighies like International 14''s and 505''s. Gary Hoyt used one with his ''gunmount'' spinacker poles on small Freedoms. They can work reasonably well with a symmetrical spinacker that is retrived forward of the forestay or on a forestay less boat like the Freedom. They have also been used with large America''s Cup boat to help bring the middle of the sail into reach of the ''sewer''.

Most of these retrievers use a sock that the retrieval line passes through and a "scoop" on the bow forward of the forestay.

Jeff
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Spinnakers and snuufers in racing

Sails I have seen this on have a reinforced patch in the center with a ring sewn to it. The retrieving line is tied to the ring, and there you are. Since there shouldn''t be too much strain on the line, (the halyards and sheets are released, and the sail is collapsing when the retriever line is used) the patch isn''t usually too big or heavy, and neither is the line. If the ring is equidistant from the corners of the sail, the head and clews should all end up at the edge of the hatchway at the same time. You might be able to experiment by simply using rip-stop tape to attach a temporary ring on the sail to see if it works for you.
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