Spinnaker sail

Spinnaker sailA spinnaker is merely a running sail to be used when the wind is nearly dead aft or quite dead aft.

Generally speaking, when the head-sails will draw and the big jib topsail will draw the spinnaker is no use. That is, it does not drive the vacht as fast as she would go with her head-sails. The latter will lift her head. The spinnaker may bury it.

People "ease the spinnaker sheet" and do "run by the lee" to "save a gybe" when racing. One gets in a tight corner and is obliged to do these things.

To save a gybe is a phrase the racing man understands. He is obliged, forced perhaps by clever tactics of rivals, to "run by the lee" with the wind " blowing down his boom," and his mainsail is no use. Circumstances such as the necessity of getting round a buoy or past some obstruction preclude a gybe.

For this reason, when running as he well knows he never should run, he pulls the after guy of the spinnaker boom aft so as to present that sail to the wind, and eases the spinnaker sheet right off; in this way the spinnaker will lift high and increase the speed a bit during the time the mainsail is doing the poorest possible work. At all other times the spinnaker should be used in a normal manner wind pretty well square aft.

When head-sails draw take it in. Do not keep easing the spinnaker boom forward ad lib. as the wind comes on the weather quarter; if you do this in a fresh wind, up will fly the spinnaker boom when the yacht heels over, and the whole lot will blow over the topmast forestay.

The spinnaker should be taken in when the wind blows on the weather quarter, and whilst it is being taken down the steersman must until the head of the spinnaker is below (the crosstrees run the yacht off) her course for a few moments dead before the wind.

On a long passage little or nothing will be lost by the deviation of course; even if in a run of twenty miles you make two leeward legs of ten miles each gybing in the middle of the run.

The beginner will find this adds much to his peace of mind when teering his boat down channel before the wind. Many prefer this way of tacking to leeward even in racing, and it is a very common practice; moreover, it is a pleasant thing when running before the wind to feel the security of the breeze on your weather ear all the time.

Steering a yacht dead before the wind is not the most comfortable way to sail, and is rather nervous work for the beginner, because the beginner, always feels he may "gybe her by accident".

Read on for more on how to avoid such a gybe at night: safe steering at night.