Asymmetric Ambitions

Richard Roach of Youngstown, Ohio, asks:

"I have a 1988 Freedom 30 with an unstayed carbon-fiber mast. What risk do I run of harming my mast if I fly a small full-hoist drifter or asymmetric spinnaker?

I occasionally attach the tack of my lightweight genoa to the bow pulpit (where the spinnaker pole is normally mounted in a canister designed to hold it) and hoist it on the spinnaker halyard with the luff flying free. This gets it slightly higher and more forward. It works well off the wind, but I would like to use a larger sail if possible. I have removed the pole canister, as I do not use the spinnaker that came with the boat. Do you recommend a particular size or cut of sail?"

Win Fowler replies:

Unfortunately, neither the designer nor the builder of your boat are still around to answer questions about the engineering of your mast. But I suspect they assumed the mast had to be capable of capsizing the boat without damage.

I also suspect, but cannot guarantee, that you can safely hoist a fairly large asymmetric spinnaker in light air without creating problems. Personally, I would be more concerned about the strength of that pulpit. You might consider tacking your sail to the stem, even if it is somewhat closer to the mast.

An asymmetric spinnaker is the sail I would recommend using, as this type of sail will fly farther away from the mainsail.

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