Sailing Tips – How To Set Up A Spinnaker

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 17,824
    Kevin Wensley, Director of Operations with Offshore Sailing, provides tips and techniques on how to properly set up a spinnaker.

    Kevin Wensley: Hello! My name is Kevin Wensley, I am the Director of Operations at Offshore Sailing School. And I am here today at one of our beautiful Southwest Florida locations. What we are going to be looking at right now is how to go about setting up for a spinnaker hoist. In the first instance this three component parts for flying a spinnaker, one is the lines that we are going to be use to actually control the sail when it's up, the other is the pole and we are going to be using the pole to stabilize the sail when its flying and then the last thing we are going to be looking at is this spinnaker itself and how to actually bag it in a way that it wont have any twist or hopefully wont have any twist when it comes out of the bag. To start with, I am going to start by setting up the lines, well what we need to remember is that the sail usually will hoist from the side that is down winds so the lowest side is where the sail goes up. So the first line that I am setting up now is going to be the off the guy, we have a twing, sometimes known as a tweaker. The purpose of this is very, very similar to actually what jib sheet fairlead does, it actually controls the angle of the sheet and how it pulls on the clew of the sail, very important to remember to keep all your spinnaker gear outside. and I am going to run it through the cam cleat with a little arch on it. And then in the end of this twing I don't want to go over board, I am just going to put it little figure 8 right knot, it will stop knot to stop that sliding out. My sheet comes through the eye here. All the way back again making sure I am coming in from outside to a turning block back here the stanchion. This then runs to a ratchet block and I am just going to set the ratchet so I can hear it click. I know need to set up the same thing on the other side. And these two lines that off the guy and the sheet, they are going to control the bottom of the sail, they are going to control the bottom two corners; of course what I need now is a line to take the sail up, so I am looking up the halyard. The spinnaker halyard is the furthest out board on the starboard side. Now what I want to make sure is that the halyard runs fairly from where it exists the mast down to the same spot is the sheet and the off the guy. Okay so there is the line set up, the next thing I am going to do is set up the pole, spinnaker poles always open with the jaws up. You can see how this one is working here it's got what sort of trip line I can pull my trip line and it opens the jaws. I can work the jaw like a trigger which is quite nice, but what I am really looking for is the bridle that's holding the pole up and the line that hoist the pole is called the topping lift. Make sure I have got the bridle for the top parts of the pole here, I am going to pull the pole, I am going to set the pole on the front of the mast. So when the sail fills with air it's going to try and lift and this furl guy is going to keep the pole down. So in this instance I am getting set up for a starboard tack hoist so the pole is going to be on the starboard side and the lines are going to be rigged up the pole side. I also want to make sure that my off the guy, and the off the guy is this line here I want to make sure that's running through the end of the pole as well. So and it's going to stick that through the jaws right now.

    The last things that I consider is the sail itself, and what I am looking for is the head of the sail. Okay, so I found my head, so what I am going to do now is accordion fold all down the luff of the sail. So what that means is I am going to get hold of the head keep it firm and then I am going to run my hand down the luff take all away and just bring the sail in. And both the lower corners of the sail are called the clews and so one of them becomes the tack. So we are now starting to get in to that tricky bit of spinnaker work where the same thing starts to have one or two rings. And now I need to run down the green luff and accordion fold that in the same way, without loosing the poles I have already done. So now I put my head and my two clews all nicely tied together, what I need to do is get the sail back in the bag without putting any twist and turn. So that's my spinnaker ready to hoist and if I have packed it a way properly when the pull the head out in the corners of the same time then the sails would just open and fill with wind. So there you have it, the lines are all set up, the poles all set up and the spinnaker is now packed, all we to do now is attached them all together and pull it the right time and everything should be good. 1