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Old 07-06-2003
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Preparing for a Spinnaker Run

I have just started racing in a spinnaker division on a 33'' racer/cruiser and have a tactical question about approaching and rounding a windward mark, setting the pole up and then the spinnaker. Can someone explain how to figure out in advance which is a better tack to approach the mark on, which side of the boat the pole should be rised on before the mark (so that you do not have to tack with the pole up), what is the difference between and when to use a Bearaway-set or a Jibe-set. Is there anything on the Internet or a book that explains all this well?

Kind regards,
Leo Port
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Old 07-07-2003
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Preparing for a Spinnaker Run

In some ways it can really take a book to properly answer your question, but in the relatively short answer, when going upwind you should try to look at the course and decide if one side of the downwind course is favored by wind or current or both. You do so by asking questions like, "Where is the most wind on the course?" (you want the side with the best wind), "Which course upwind is closest in direction to the the course between the rounding mark and the next mark?" (You will want the jibe that is opposite to the upwind tack which takes you most directly to the mark.), "Where do I expect a favorable wind shift to occur first?", "Where do I expect an unfavorable wind shift to occur last?", "Where will I have the most beneficial currents?" and "Is there an area of the course that has surfable waves?", Is there a boat that I need to cover?" etc.

In an ideal world, all of the answers to these questions would be the same side of the course but on the race course (or cruising for that matter), there is often a disagreement in these factors as to which side of the course is favored, so you have to guess which side offers the biggest advantage with the least disadvantage.

As a beginner racer the best that you can do for your crew is to get on the starboard layline, or even a bit above the starboard layline, early so that your crew has plenty of time to set up for the raise. With a small or green crew, it is much easier to do a bear away set because everything can be in place for the raise. Once around and the chute has been set you can then find a ''lane'' and jibe into it. At the leeward mark with a green crew, it is best to set up and drop a little early for a hardening up, leeward take down. There is nothing slower than entering a windward course with the chute up.

As your crew work gets better and you want to make more strategic roundings, you can do jibe sets, and floater and/or windward drops which allow you to carry the chute farther into the mark and still be able to tack away quickly.

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