We know sailors that refuse to fly an asymmetric or symmetric spinnaker with less than 4 crew because its just too hard to handle…. Well on Waiata myself and the Admiral, Connie, Gybe ours around the front in up to 16kts of wind with just the two of us quite comfortably…. here’s how.
- We have marriage savers so that we can communicate through the procedure.
- Connie’s sets herself up with the winch handle on the new tack side ready to be used (we only have one handle for the spinnaker winches).
- I tighten the halyard so it is tight and not “flying out front”.
- Connie stands ready on the active sheet on windward side
- I turn the boat through the wind using the auto pilot and then calmly but quickly move forward to the leeward bow and pick up the lazy spinnaker sheet.
- Being careful to ensure no feet are caught up in the sheets, as the wind comes across and starts to collapse the sail
- Connie slowly releases the active sheet, whilst I pull in the lazy sheet and we start to pull the clew around the front of the Halyard.
- At my call, Connie completely lets the sheet go, taking it off the winch, we have already flaked it to make sure the slack line will flow freely.
- Connie heads over to the new tack line and rapidly starts taking in slack, using her arms NOT the winch as I have most of the weight held on the bow, which I can do as the sail is mostly flying out front and collapsed.
- I am very careful to be ready to let go the sheet if the sail fills too rapidly and tries to pull me forward. Connie will always have the line wrapped around the winch so can hold the pressure at this point. This point always comes, its just a matter of how far back I can get the clew pulled before the sail fills.
- Once I have had to let the sheet go, which I warn Connie is happening over the Marriage savers, the sail will be flying and collapsing because the clew is not far enough back yet to apply tension.
- During each collapse I pull in the sheet rapidly and Connie takes up the slack around the winch, again hand over hand.
- Once I reach the stage where the sail is stable and inflated, I can no longer pull against it so Connie starts winching it in to get a proper trim on the sail, I can watch from the front and guide her as the sail is not really visible to her at that time.
We’ve done this many many times and in winds up to 16kts. Much above that we make the decision to furl and redeploy on the other tack, which sometimes involves a Genoa peel over and sometimes does not.