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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have a spinnaker that came with the boat that I bought this year and I'm wondering how I can tell what kind it is? Symetrical, assymetrical, cruising?

I had it out of the bag for the first time and spread it in the back yard yesterday just to take a look. I'm still learning to handle the jim and main in my sloop rig but getting more and more curious about trying the spinnaker. From what I've been reading much depends on what kind I have.

It came with a spinnaker pole and the sheets and looks like it has everything else rigged to fly it. I'd just have to figure out what it all does.
Mike
 

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Go out on a friend's boat that has a spinnaker and learn from him.

Just make sure that he isn't the "Capt Ron" or "Capt Wolf Larsen" type of person. :laugher
 

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If it's intended for use with a spin pole, it's likely a conventional symmetrical spinnaker.

If you have space to spread it out on the lawn, you can often tell merely by the shape. A symmetrical spinnaker will be shaped like an isosceles triangle. An asymmetric chute will be more like a scalene right triangle.
 

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If it came with a pole, it's most likely a symmetrical spinnaker. Boasun's idea is a good one, go out with someone, or take someone along, who knows how to handle a kite. You'll learn more in a day than in several mistrials.

If that's not possible, try not to choose a day with REALLY light winds.. it makes it very difficult to keep the sail flying and will lead to frustration and no realization of whether or not you're doing something right or wrong. A nice 10 knot breeze is about ideal, by the time you're heading downwind-ish there's not much pressure left but enough to learn the ropes.

Basic beginner's ideas: adjust pole height to keep the clews approximately level, trim the pole fore-and-aft to about 90 deg to the apparent wind, and ease and trim the sheet to have the leading edge of the kite collapse or fold slightly in the shoulders several times a minute.

Good luck! It's a lotta fun once you get the hang of it.
 

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Does the sail have any markings like the works "head", "tack" or "clew" written on any of the corners? If you see the word "tack" then you have an A-Sail.

Compare the corners. If two match exactly in terms of reinforcement patches and shape then it's likely symmetrical.

How old is the sail? If old then you can guess that it's not an A-Sail but a symmetrical spinnaker.
 

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99% landlubber, 1% sailor
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if two of the sides have equal lengths, or if two of the corners have equal angles, your spinnaker is symmetrical.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Yep, it's symetrical

I found the tack with a bronze swivel eye and rings sewn into the two clews. The only marking is the maker's label, Melges of Wisconsin. I folded it in half and it's perfectly symetrical. It looks mighty big.

When I first sailed my boat this spring all the extra lines hanging around the mast were an annoyance. Now that I'm starting to get the hang of handling two sails, jib and main, I want to take it to the next level. Not immediately and certainly not on my own, but I'm looking forward to it. The spinnaker looks so cool. If it moves me faster downwind then it's a bonus.

Mike
 

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Yes, Spinnakers are cool. But, it would be good for your first try to:

1). Have light winds and calm seas.
2). Have someone with spinnaker experience on board.
3). Make sure someone competent is steering the boat as they can make or break things.

Good luck I'm sure you'll have success and a great time trying out your sail.

PS don't forget the camera as spinnaker pictures are always great.
 

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Hi - Remember that your spinnaker pole should be set up with its own halyard, on the windward side, at about 90 degrees to the apparent. The line running from the windward clew through the outer end of the pole will be called the guy, while the other (both should be going outside everything else ) will be the sheet.
You would normally rig the pole and sheets before raising the spinnaker on it's own halyard.

Once deployed, the sail increases in power as the sheet is released, until the windward edge begins to furl. You need to sheet in a little to maintain if this furling is very pronounced. Once the sail regains it's shape, you can let out a little to maintain power.

Your backstay should be eased with the spinnaker up.

To gybe, you need to change the pole to the 'new' windward side, and the old sheet becomes the new guy, but that's a whole other story and you may be confused enough as it is !

The guys advising you to wait for gentle conditions are absolutely right.

The spinnaker adds a whole new dimension to your sailing and I hope you enjoy it! There's nothing more exciting than surfing down a following sea with the spinnaker powering you.
 

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Watch a video, get help or read a lot before you hoist it. It is the one sail that can actually pull your boat over and there have been some very serious accidents resulting from mishandling of the spinnaker pole.

That said - they're a lot of fun !

Good Luck ! :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
It almost happened...

Funny you should mention it, but it almost happened during a regatta (I think it was last year) at our club. I found the pics on the web once and can't find them again. It was a pretty serious looking series of photos that were posted. The spinnaker went in the water and started to pull the boat over and down. Isn't a broken mast another possibility?
Mike
 

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That's called a "broach", and though dramatic and able to get your heart in your throat, simply laying over on your side should not, in itself, cause the rig to fail.

Dismastings have occurred after/during violent broaches, but usually because something else happened to snap a stay or break a spreader, or the boat crashed so hard the spin pole inverted the mast and overloaded a (usually lightweight) section. In most cases these instances were probably situations where flying the kite in the first place was ill advised - racing or not.

As far as mishandling the pole goes, the #1 rule here is to NEVER leave the pole downhaul uncleated. Often you'll need some slack in it during a gybe, but if so, ease it a foot or so and recleat it. If the pole is allowed to "sky" (being taken to vertical by the load of the spinn) then things can get ugly in a hurry.

Pick the right day, find a knowledgeable friend, and take it in stages - you'll do fine!
 
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