DO I WANT TO ADD A SPINNAKER TO MY SAIL INVENTORY?Spinnakers can be a lot of fun, add a ton of downwind performance, and are pretty and colorful, but they can be a little intimidating if you haven't flown one before. Spinnakers come in 2 basic styles, the symmetrical (or racing) spinnaker and the asymmetrical (or cruising) spinnaker, here is an overview of the differences.
Symmetrical spinnakers, called such because both vertical edges
of the sail are the same length, are by far the more complex to use, because
they require a spinnaker pole on the foredeck. This pole needs to be supported
to the mast with a topping lift, held down to the deck with a foreguy, and needs
to be disconnected from the spinnaker and moved from one side of the boat to the
other side every time you Jibe. If it sounds complex, you're right, it is!
Almost no one uses a symmetrical spinnaker on a Mac unless they are really
serious about racing.
Asymmetrical spinnakers, called such because the vertical edges
are not the same length, do not require a spinnaker pole at all because they
attach to the bow of the boat in much the same way a non roller furling Genoa
does. When you Jibe an asymmetrical spinnaker you simply ease one sheet, let
the sail blow out around the front of the boat and pull it in on the other
side. There are many marketing names used by various sailmakers for their
asymmetrical spinnakers, including Gennaker, Spanker, DRS and others, they are
all similar in concept. The term cruising spinnaker used to be almost
universally used to describe the asymmetrical sail, but in modern times many
race boats, up to the Americas Cup use them, so it is becoming somewhat less
Before you decide if you do or don't want a spinnaker on your
boat, lets go over the challenges involved, and the advantages that these sails
All of these spinnakers must be hoisted up to launch and then
lowered to douse them when you are through with them. This process requires
some skill and practice to do smoothly if you don't have 2 people to handle the
sail (plus the driver). With some practice you can easily get it down to where
you need only one person to handle the sail in reasonable wind. If you want to
make setting and dousing the sail really easy, consider adding a dousing sock
(sometimes called a snuffer) to it. With a sock, you hoist the entire sail up
while it is still inside the sock and then pull a line to slide the sock up the
sail so it can fly. When you want to douse the sail, you just pull the sock
back down to completely contain the sail so you can easily lower it down into
the bow hatch.
Jibing a cruising spinnaker is not at all technical, It's just
like a BIG Genoa (OK, there is a little more timing required), but it is some
work due to the length of the sheets that you have to pull around the boat each
Asymmetrical Spinnakers can be used at any sailing angle from
about 70 degrees apparent wind down to about 150 degrees apparent wind,
depending on wind speed. The lighter the wind is, the closer to the wind you
can sail it, stronger wind will let you go farther downwind while still
maintaining good speed.
We offer two main options for asymmetrical spinnakers:
The MacGregor factory size spinnaker: Sized to fit the 26X
and 26M with no modifications, but also works well on the 26 Classic and 25 if
you add a halyard about 2 feet above the headstay to allow for the extra hoist
this sail has. The new BWY exclusive version of this sail is a Tri-Radial design made with premium Nylite 90 cloth for great performance and durability. The standard color pattern is a Red, White, and Blue star pattern.
BWY Custom Spinnaker: Available in the standard factory
size, a somewhat larger size designed for the 26M with the halyard moved up 2
feet and our compact bow sprit, and in custom sizes for other boats. Made with
Premium Nylite 9 cloth for great performance and durability. These spinnakers are a Tri-Radial design for improved strength and
shape, available in your choice of colors. Standard pricing is for any combination of up to 3 colors of your
choice. Custom graphics are available, call for pricing.