Recent years have seen a minor revolution in downwind sailing. We have witnessed not only the rebirth of the a symmetrical spinnaker (A-sail), better-designed and stronger-built symmetrical spinnakers (S-sails), but even more recently, the Parasailor2, a sail that might lead many long-distance cruisers to rethink their off-the-wind inventories.
We tested these these three types of sails last summer in a wide variety of conditions. There was one now-infamous day when we flew the Parasailor2 in 30+ knots of air, but for consistent, reliable results we flew each sail on a perfect late-August day off Marblehead, Massachusetts, in winds ranging from 5.7 to 12 knots true, sailing courses of equal length. We used a North Sails A-sail and an S-sail from Piranha Sails.