Asymmetric Spinnaker

  • November 25, 2021 12:24 PM
    Message # 12148050

    I have a beautiful super light weight asymmetric spinnaker that came with my boat when I bought it.  The sail was made Kern.  It's older but in near new condition.  It doesn't have a sock and I don't think it was ever really used by the former owner(s).

    I want to make this sail a part of my active sail inventory, but I'm unsure exactly how best to set it up for my W32.  If anyone out there is using a sail like this and can share some advice/ pictures on how best to set it up, that would be great.

    Some things on my mind include - should I have a sock made? How best to secure the tack of the sail? How best to manage the sheets?  

    I appreciate the help.  Don

  • November 26, 2021 2:54 PM
    Reply # 12149389 on 12148050

    Hello Don,  I have 2 cents worth.  Maybe only one.  I use a full Tri-radial and thus a pole on Saraband.  I more often use a large Drifter/Reacher with no pole.  I set the Drifter 2 different ways, depending on my mood at that time.  They use different halyard and tack equipment and one method is not better than the other.    1) outside the headstay:  A proper spinnaker bale and block and halyard are used.  At the tack I have a SS tang with a 1/2" hole, welded to the front of the Cranse  iron (Bow Cap).  A shackle and Snatch block are added to this,  The tack line from the sail, about 15', is led through this block and made fast on the sampson post before hoisting.  The sheets are run out with the Lazy sheet going all the way around the outside of the headstay and then aft,  Hoist the sail fully.  Adjust the sheet and tack as necessary.   I have done this a hundred times with no sock.  But also with a sock.  If using the sock then you can hoist the sail fully before running the sheets and tack but you must have control of the sock.  All told, the sock is easier, ESPECIALLY when dousing the sail.  I am currently not using a sock only because I do not like the physical size of the sail in the bag with the sock.  This method will require a Gybe, not a tack.              

    2)  Inside the headstay:  I use my 3rd, middle halyard.  This halyard is run through a "Harken Halyard restrainer" mounted about 6" down from the mast head exit.  I had this hardware modified by a welder to "soften" the edges as the halyard will be rubbing on it's sides.  The tack attachment is a piece of rope tied around the bowsprit.  Use your imagination.  The loop is about 6" above the sprit and just aft of my roller furler.   A friend of mine uses a proper pad eye bolted to the sprit.  I use a carabiner to attach the tack of the sail to this loop,   The sheets are run like a Genoa with the lazy sheet inside the headstay.  Once again a sock may or may not be used.  This method requires a tack not a gybe.  I have used this method hundreds of times.            Important Note:  the sock will consume about 14” of hoist.  You will want to hoist your sail and insure that you have at least that 14” to spare on your halyard before adding a sock. 

    Good luck.  I hope this info can be visualized and helpful.    OH!  by the way. Don't forget the annual New Years Day sail.  It is bad luck, I hear, to not sail.

    Best Regards,     Dave

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    Last modified: November 26, 2021 3:25 PM | Anonymous member
  • November 28, 2021 10:07 AM
    Reply # 12152183 on 12148050

    Hello Dave,

    Your comments were just what I was hoping for, thanks for taking the time to respond.  

    The picture you attached is especially helpful.  By looking at your sail, I think I may actually have a drifter and not an asymmetrical spinnaker. Either way, I appreciate that you have tacked the sail two different ways.

    My thinking had been tacking the sail outside of the head stay and using the jibe would prevent the sail from fouling on the head stay. I also thought that having the ability to ease the tack downwind might be an advantage. However, to make that happen, I'll have to re-position my head stay back one hole on the bowsprit end cap so as to attach a block for a movable sail tack. A lot of work if there's no real advantage to rigging the sail this way.

    I think I'll try it first with the sail tacked inside the head stay as you describe and see how it goes. I also appreciate your comment on the need for more length on the halyard if I use a sock (hadn't really considered that). Anyway, I'll give it a try and see how it goes.

    Thanks again, much appreciated.


  • December 13, 2021 10:23 AM
    Reply # 12189614 on 12148050

    Hello Dave,

    It was light air on the dock yesterday and after looking at the picture of your sail, I hoisted my sail to check it out..  I attached a few pictures below.  I was all alone, it's a big sail. I didn't want it to foul on the radar tower of the boat next to me so it's sheeted to the port side of my boat, but you can see the sail pretty well when it filled in the breeze. 

    I secured the tack inside the headstay, more or less, as in your picture. It appears you have more halyard left at the top of the hoist then I do and your tack is set above the bow pulpit. 

    It was made by Kern for this boat. By the way it sets, it's feels more like a drifter than a asymmetrical spinnaker. Any thoughts?

    Thanks,  Don

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  • December 25, 2021 1:44 PM
    Reply # 12214759 on 12148050

    Hello Don,  Merry Christmas.   First off. my sincere apology for not responding earlier.  I, just today, saw your post.  Nice sail.  Yes, it looks like a Kern Drifter to me.  A good sail for the boat.   Too bad it is not just a few less inches on the luff to allow a bit more room for the sock.  It will work just fine without a sock though.  I would suggest raising the tack just a few more inches.  Be aware of chafe though at the masthead exit when using it this way.  It you add a sock I have 2 thoughts:  1)  The sock can be modified just a bit to give about 4 to 6 inches more for the sail luff.  The Kern sock, made by Neil Pride, is certainly one of the very best.   2)  If using this sail with a sock, it will still set just fine when off the wind just a bit.  Like from a beam reach and aft, because you would normally be flying it with a slightly looser luff.  The only problem when using the sock, and thus a looser luff, is when sailing closer to the wind, you will not be able to tighten the luff as much as you may desire.  As mentioned earlier, I have not used a sock more often than using one.             Off subject:  I understand that the sail was not sheeted correctly for the photos,  ideally the sheet car or block would be 2 or more feet aft from what the photos show, though different conditions would dictate that.  Good luck,  also, what is your boat name and your location.     Dave

  • December 27, 2021 5:38 PM
    Reply # 12218702 on 12148050


    Thanks again for your reply.  I hope you had a happy Christmas surrounded with friends and family.

    I appreciate you confirming the sail as a drifter. Your comments are spot on about the lack of room for a sock. I think I could find a way to make it work but I do believe it would compromise it's effectiveness with wind much forward of the beam. Before I invest in a sock, I plan to move the tack forward of the headstay and pull the hoist as tight as reasonable, hopefully this will tighten the luff and give me a little reaching capacity.  I also prefer the idea of a jibe rather than trying to tack the sail between the headstay and the staysail stay.  I appreciate your comment on proper sheeting location and the chafe issue at the masthead, we'll monitor both of those as we try working with the sail.

    The boat is Questia and we're currently sailing out of Newport Beach, CA  - notorious light air sailing - hence the reason we want to utilize the drifter more often.

    Thanks again for sharing your time and experience.  I'll comment back again after we start working with the sail. 

    Take care and all the best in 2022!


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