Asymmetrical Drag

Hal Garner of Fort Myers, Florida, asks:

"My mast doesn’t have sheaves for a spinnaker halyard, so I fly my asymmetric spinnaker on my second genoa halyard. I also bend the sail’s tack onto a line that runs down through a block directly behind the forestay to a winch in the cockpit. When tacking the boat, I handle the spinnaker the same way I would a genoa. However I’ve been told this can cause the halyard to chafe badly. I’d rather not install a spinnaker halyard in the mast, so I’m curious to know whether you think installing a short wire pennant on my genoa halyard between the masthead and the head of the sail would eliminate the threat of chafe?"

Win Fowler replies:

Since genoa halyard sheaves are normally installed so that the load parallels the headstay, you do risk chafing a genoa halyard when flying an asymmetric spinnaker off it to leeward. If the genoa halyard is wire, the leeward deflection might saw into your mast. Therefore, adding a wire pennant to your halyard won’t solve your problem.

A better way to protect against chafe would be to install a halyard retainer—basically a heavy, stainless steel bull’s-eye lead—just below the sheave. Retainers are often used to keep a roller-furling jib’s halyard from wrapping around the furling rod as the sail is furled and will also serve to protect your halyard. Bear in mind that a retainer won’t keep the halyard from making contact with the headstay, the primary genoa halyard or even the headsail furler, so it is not a comprehensive solution.

I must also say it’s not a good practice to pass your asymmetric spinnaker, which probably is light and delicate, through the foretriangle when tacking. Dragging it over the spreaders and the rest of the rig is just asking for trouble. Spinnaker repairs can be expensive.

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