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I'm not quite sure how to rewrite this page. The spinnaker is more than a bag of wind. It conforms to exactly the same laws of aerodynamics as other sails do! But what is currently in the article is a common misconception. Andrewa 21:31, 12 Nov 2004 (UTC)


The discussion of broaching is misleading. Broaching is not uncommon with asymmetrical spinnakers, and the wind never comes from the opposite side of the sail. It is true that it's nearly a capsize. - Bob S.-- 23:05, 1 Jan 2005 (UTC)

Anyone have any input on how to rework that? Never having sailed with a spinnaker, I'm working entirely with secondhand knowledge here... scot 22:06, 8 September 2005 (UTC)

As someone who has done a lot of broaching, I think it needs a page of its own. I will write one. Malcolm Morley 09:22, 10 September 2005 (UTC)
I have revised the section on broaching, based on wide dinghy & keelboat racing experience & Marchaj, further suggestions & expert input welcome. GilesW 11:02, 2 September 2007 (UTC)

History of asymmetrics[edit]

Asymmetric spinnakers have been around much longer than mentioned. 18 foot skiffs may have been the first. Certainly they had them as early as 1987.

I'll look into that and see what I can find. It may be hard to pin down, as highly cambered genoas (gennakers) tend to look a lot like asymmetric spinnakers, the only definitive difference (as far as I can see) being whether or not they're attached to the forestay. scot 22:06, 8 September 2005 (UTC)
Here's a promising link: It seems to be a bit fuzzy to me on the descriptions of the sails--is a sail with a wire luff, for example, considered an asymmetric spinnaker, or a gennaker? I'll keep looking... scot 02:02, 9 September 2005 (UTC) More nomenclature to confuse the issue more... scot 02:12, 9 September 2005 (UTC)
Invented by Julian Bethwaite and used on his B18 [1]. GilesW 00:13, 1 September 2007 (UTC)

Merger of cruising chute and gennaker[edit]

I think given the similarity of the above sails to the spinnaker (they're all lightwieght nylon sails, usually colorful, attached at 3 points rather than along the luff, used for mainly downwind sailing and only deployed as needed) that those pages should be merged in. While the sails may be used differently, there seems to be a fairly blurrly line to each of the categories, and having all the types in one article would allow the distinctions (or lack thereof) to be clearly noted. scot 21:08, 25 August 2006 (UTC)

I agree. The term "Gennaker" and "Cruising Chute" are slang off-shoots (pun intended) of the spinnaker- namely that of an "asymmetrical" type of that head sail.--Dana 21:26, 29 August 2006 (UTC)

Just wait a moment. There is a difference between a spinnaker and a gennaker, namely that spinnaker normally refers to a symmetric sail and gennaker to the asymmetric ones. A spinnaker is used with two sheets and just fixed with one point (top of the mast), a gennaker is used with only one sheet and fixed with two points (top of the mast/bow) -- 18:15, 14 September 2006 (UTC)

That is (mostly) correct, however this article covers both symmetric and asymmetric spinnakers. The "mostly" was for the fact that the lines to control a spinnaker are generally called "guys" rather than "sheets", and a gennaker does have a pair, attached to the same corner of the sail and passing on different sides of the forestay (just like a jib's sheets pass on opposite sides of the mast). scot 18:31, 14 September 2006 (UTC)

I'm back (from sailing- actually; and could have used either of these!) I would maintain that a gennaker is a form of headsail that is lightly constructed and designed to enhance off-wind performance. Hence, it is a form of spinnaker just as a genoa is a form of headsail called a jib. I'm not really sure but I doubt that you'd use a gennaker into the teeth of the wind, would you? We are talking about a robust entry in a encycol so, I guess, gennaker could be cross-reffed to "jib".--Dana 20:51, 25 September 2006 (UTC)

I know the need--I live in Oklahoma, where the winds tend to be all or nothing (two weeks ago I was out on a lake in a Guppy 13 in 25+ knot winds--that'll make you a believer in reef points!) so I just picked up a used asymmetric and dousing sock to put on my MacGregor 21, and I've found a place in Tulsa that will put reef points in the main. Dousing spinnaker plus reef points plus the DIY PVC roller furling rig (see the article for a picture of the one on the Guppy) ought to have me ready for just about any wind. And for zero wind, there's always the iron jib...
As for close reaching with genoas and spinnakers, it can be done. The big issue is how flat the sail is. Some of the asymmetrics are pretty flat, and will get you pretty close to the wind. As for genoas, they tend to be a lot flatter than most asymmetrics, though there is some overlap. The earliest asymmetrics were actually the high camber "balloon" genoas that showed up in the late 1800s. Marchaj has some pictures of those in Sail Performance that look just like modern asymmetrics that fly off the retractable bowsprits. scot 21:36, 25 September 2006 (UTC)

Of course gennakers are indeed a form of spinnaker, but in writing articles I've found it useful to use a link to both 'spinnaker' and 'gennaker' within a couple of lines. Maybe I could/should have written 'symmetric spinnaker' and 'asymmetric spinnaker', but I find the present set-up convenient. A photo in the gennaker article would save a thousand words - see for example image Y&Ytest1.jpg. Cruising chute, spinnoa and all such terms should naturally lead to the same article as gennaker.Tony 14:06, 17 January 2007 (UTC)

From the perspective of someone who knows next to nothing about sailing (and what I do know I've learned from reading these articles) I'd agree it would make more sense to have the two merged together. As an example, I can't tell if gennaker is just another name (maybe a brand name?) for an asymmetrical spinnaker or, if not, what the difference between the two is (if anyone could clear that up I'd appreciate it). JaySH 23:29, 6 February 2007 (UTC)

Rigging the asymmetric spinnaker[edit]

Proposed revision. Sheets and guys were mixed up, and other changes to make it more general.

Like the symmetric, the asymmetric may be stored in a turtle etc, or use a spinnaker chute. Unlike the symmetric, asymmetrics have the tack attached to the bow or a bowsprit (often retractable), and have two sheets attached to the clew like a jib. The head of the sail is attached to the spinnaker halyard, which is used to raise the sail. The sheets are passed to ahead of the forestay; they may be passed outside the tack of the asymmetric, or between the tack and the forestay. The leeward sheet is used to set the sail, and the opposite sheet is left slack.

Not sure about this sentence, please explain why tack needs to slide up and down. Deletion proposed. Often a tack line is used at leading edge to provide adjustable tension on the luff of the spinnaker, or it may be attached to the forestay with a sliding collar (often riding over the furled jib on parrel beads or similar device) allowing the tack to slide up and down.

Jibing with the asymmetric is less complex than the symmetric, due to the lack of the spinnaker pole. Much like a jib, it is necessary to release the 'old' sheet and pull in the 'new' one, though as it has to travel round the forestay, it has much further to travel. Asymmetric spinnakers require boats to tack down wind, and fast boats may be travelling close to (if not faster than) the speed of the true wind on entering the jibe, so that there is little apparent wind during a correctly performed gybe, facilitating the manoeuver.

Depending on the configuration of the spinnaker system, retrieving the asymmetric is similar to the symmetric, though the detailed choreography may be quite different. So as not to drop the spinnaker into the water, the procedure involves coordinating the sheet with the lowering of the spinnaker into the spinnaker chute (if applicable), and retracting the bowsprit (if applicable), while steering and balancing the boat. GilesW 00:41, 1 September 2007 (UTC)

A couple of comments. First, for examples of rigging the asymmetric over a furled jib with parrel beads or a sliding collar, see the examples given in this discussion (I should stick one of those in as a reference). scot 21:29, 4 September 2007 (UTC)
OK. I was not familiar with cruising chutes & their use of parrel beads. Perhaps this should go in a cruising chute paragraph to avoid confusion, as they do not apply to bowsprit flown asymmetrics. GilesW 22:41, 9 September 2007 (UTC)
I put in a mention of retracting bowsprits used on racing boats along with a link to a webpage with a good illustration. I'm not sure it's worth splitting into cruising and racing sections at this point. scot 13:56, 10 September 2007 (UTC)
Next, I'm not sure that "spinnaker chute" is worthy of a separate article; why not a section in this article that covers the spinnaker chute, socks, and turtles? I've got an old ATN asymmetric and a sock that I should be able to get a shot of; I need to dry-rig the Mac21 and get everything fit at some point, and I can get some shots of the sock then. The spinnaker chute is probably worth a diagram. scot 21:29, 4 September 2007 (UTC)
I made it a separate article for ease of cross reference from descriptions of classes that incorporate or permit spi chutes. Also several arrangements are common and should be illustrated, e.g. through-hull (sealed tube), sock, and open arrangements. If the expanded article would fit well in the Spinnaker article by all means move it, with redirection to that paragraph for ease of cross reference. GilesW 22:41, 9 September 2007 (UTC)
Moved as suggested by scot. GilesW 17:44, 12 September 2007 (UTC)

Running Spinnakers[edit]

Running spinnakers work more efficiently when unstalled, so that the air flows transversely from luff to leach, which generates more lift from the spinnaker and also produces transverse airflow behind the mainsail, clearing away the vortex from behind the mainsail, increasing its drive. Thus modern running spinnakers are designed to deflect the airflow by about 90 deg and so are not "almost hemispherical" as stated - even though they may look it from some angles. Spinnakers are generally best flown with the luff regularly curling inwards slightly - if not they will probably be stalled and loose power. Attentive spinnaker trimming wins races, and is as important running as reaching. GilesW 18:08, 12 September 2007 (UTC)

Most symmetrical spinnakers used by racing yachts and dinghies are general purpose sails, usable both on reaches and runs. In round-the-cans racing, spinnakers are more likely to be changed for different wind strengths rather than different points of sailing. No yachts or dinghies that I am acquainted with use specialised "Running spinnakers", particularly as it is increasingly being understood that it is usually quickest for fast boats to "sail the wind angles", tacking down wind and avoiding the dead run. GilesW 21:04, 13 September 2007 (UTC)

History of the spinnaker[edit]

Nothing here on the history of the spinnaker itself - Sphinx's Acre etc etc. Room for a brief history I think? Merrythought 12:45, 16 October 2007 (UTC)

Any source for the etymology? (talk) 18:50, 20 May 2008 (UTC)

Ditto. Personally I'm most interested in the late 19th Century development and experiment and the effect that improving materials, the move from sail cloth to synthetics, had on the design and performance, and how the application of aerodynamics to the design process influenced size and shape.


"While a fully equipped racing boat might have a number of spinnakers, both symmetric and asymmetric, to cover all courses and wind conditions, cruising boats almost always use an asymmetric, due to the broader application and easier handling afforded by the asymmetric."

In my experience cruising boats invariably tend to have symmetric 'chutes. Mind all the boats I've sailed on are considered pretty old these days.

- HighlyErratic 21:43, 15 February 2009 (UTC) —Preceding unsigned comment added by HighlyErratic (talkcontribs)

Cruising Chutes[edit]

Hi all, I have added a short section on Cruising Chutes. Seemed a huge gap in the article. Happy to go with the BRD cycle of course if have trodden on any toes, but I am on a wikibreak for a couple of weeks or so so if I don't join in it's not that I am offended hahaha!. Regards, Springnuts (talk) 22:06, 22 August 2010 (UTC)

Not an encyclopedia article.[edit]

This is a jargon-filled article designed for those who are already experts on sailing. The first sentence contains the jargon phrase "reaching course", which is linked to a long article that does not actually contain nor explain the phrase "reaching course". This article taught me nothing about the spinnaker. It is very poorly done.77Mike77 (talk) 13:57, 4 November 2013 (UTC)

No kidding...

"Since spinnakers are downwind sails, they are never tacked, they are only jibed. When jibing a symmetric, the pole is removed from one corner and attached to the opposite corner. This corner now becomes the windward corner. There are two ways this is done. Generally on smaller boats, an end-for-end jibe is accomplished by disconnecting the pole at the mast-end and connecting the mast end to the opposite side of the sail. The old sail end is disconnected and then attached to the mast. This prevents the pole from getting loose during the procedure and allows the use of only two control lines that alternate as sheet and guy (more on this below). End-for-end jibing requires a pole with identical fittings at either end. Larger boats do a dip-pole gybe (jibe) in which the pole remains attached to the mast and the outer end is lowered until it can clear the head-stay and is then raised back up on the other side of the boat to the proper height with the topping lift. The guys are adjusted as before to set the sail angle on the new course. Dip-pole jibing can use a pole with one mast end and one sail end."

I mean, seriously, try reading that paragraph aloud. You will want to punch yourself. (talk) 05:18, 3 January 2014 (UTC)

Yes, it is without links.
Maybe links would help in this paragraph. D1gggg (talk) 23:21, 22 October 2017 (UTC)
  1. ^ ISBN 1853107573