Spinnakers - Pentwater Yacht Club

Spinnaker – set and trim
• A short presentation including input and
comments from everyone
• We all learn from each other
Spinnaker – set and trim
• If you are planning to fly a spinnaker for
the first time this year, and
• if you wish some support,
• one of us who have flown spinnakers often
will be happy assist you in any way you
wish including sailing with you.
Spinnaker – set and trim
Spinnaker – set and trim
• If you watched the Ensign race on June 16
• You may want to be a bit careful in
selecting the person to assist you in
spinnaker sailing
• Because some of us claiming to be
experienced spinnaker sailors……
Spinnaker – set and trim
Can really screw it up!!
Rich Bowen
“Spinnaker Trim for Performance”
• http://www.sailnet.com/forums/gear-maintenancearticles/19825-spinnaker-trim-performance.html
• N
Sailing Downwind
• Sailing downwind is often more of a
challenge than sailing upwind.
• Downwind performance requires a little
more input from the team and the
spinnaker trimmer is the primary source of
this input.
Sailing Downwind
• A good spinnaker trimmer needs to stay on
his or her toes, making constant adjustments
to the trim in response to the fluctuations in
the wind's intensity and angle.
• This person also needs to communicate
effectively so that the helmsman and the rest
of the crew know how to respond to keep the
boat performing at its optimum.
• The essential objective for trimming the
symmetrical spinnaker is to keep the sail
filled by positioning it in front of the boat,
just ahead or to weather of the wind
shadow created by the mainsail.
• When sailing downwind with a spinnaker,
there are three basic adjustments you'll
need to pay attention to in order to trim the
sail properly.
• These are:
– Pole height
– Pole position fore and aft
– Sheet tension
Spinnaker Sailing
• When the spinnaker is hoisted, the pole
is usually already up and in place.
• Once the sail is up and the halyard is
secured, it is time to fine-tune the
• Stand back and take a look. Who
picked those spinnaker colors anyway?
Pole Up
Pole Down
Pole Height
• An initial reference on most boats
is the height of the clews—the
lower corners of the sail.
• Generally speaking, you want
these to be level.
Spinnaker Pole Orientation
• You generally want to keep the
pole parallel to the water
More on Pole Height
• The important thing about pole height is that
it affects the flying attitude of the spinnaker.
• With the pole too low, the luff could be too
tight, making the front of the sail too round
and the rest of the sail too flat. Having the
pole too high will make the spinnaker look
like a huge balloon stuck to the front of the
boat. It not only looks awkward, it's slow.
Fore and Aft Pole Position
• There really aren't that many factors that
govern the fore and aft position of the pole.
• Basically, the pole should be perpendicular to
the breeze to ensure that the spinnaker
presents the most projected sail area to the
• There are a couple of ways to work on
achieving this.
• The trimmer looks up at the masthead wind
indicator and using that as a gauge.
Fore and Aft Pole Position
• And/or use telltales on the shrouds, which is
a little easier and slightly more accurate.
• Telltales on the pole topping lift is the closest
reference to the bulk of the spinnaker.
• These will give you a good indication of the
breeze angle without having to crane your
• The object is to use these references to help
you keep the pole perpendicular to the
Sheet Tension
• Assume that the spinnaker pole is
in the correct position
• Now the sheet tension becomes
more critical.
Sheet Tension
• The basic rule of thumb here is to ease the
sheet until the luff of the sail curls, then trim
the sheet just enough to not quite stop the
• This is an ongoing process that should keep
you busy throughout the entire downwind leg,
but be careful not to let the luff curl too much.
• Too much curl is slows the boat, and it could
cause the sail to collapse, which tends to get
you—the trimmer—yelled at.
The curl is here
– the leech
More on Spinnaker Trim
• One common mistake of which most
spinnaker trimmers are guilty of is getting
distracted—and over-sheeting the sail.
• When this happens, the trimmer is no
longer playing the curl and the trim is not
• Keep totally focused on trimming the
spinnaker, particularly in light air conditions.
More on Spinnaker Trim
• The spinnaker trimmer is essentially
steering the boat because the trimmer
must/should provide constant input about
pressure on the sail, and the helmsman
should respond accordingly.
• Constant communication among the crew
regarding wind direction, boat traffic and
helmsman is essential to a successful sail.
More on Spinnaker Trim
• The spinnaker is the throttle downwind,
and you need to sail in a way that keeps
the throttle at full bore.
• If there is too little pressure, the trimmer
will call for the boat to head up slightly.
• If there is plenty of pressure, then the
trimmer communicates that and the
helmsman responds by bearing away
North U demo
• North U Trim Seminar on
CD – 2 CDs
–Chapter 11
–Spinnaker Trim Photos I
It is the same process with the
spinnaker as with any sail
setting and trimming.
You have to
practice and practice!!!
• Yes, we all have and will
again mess up but…….
It is very satisfying
when it all functions
as it should.
Happy Sailing!

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