Mastering the A sail Page 3

Though asymmetric spinnakers date as far back as 1865, credit Australian skiff sailor and designer Julian Bethwaite with the invention of the modern asymmetric, which he tested and developed on his Australian 18 designs during the 1980s. Bethwaite needed a spinnaker with a long luff and flat leech on either gybe. This would enable crews to sail the skiff’s tight apparent-wind angles without
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Take down: Letter drop

Standard takedowns are windward (big A-sails) and leeward (small) drops. Consider these alternatives. The letter drop, in which the sail is doused to leeward, pulled on board between the boom and mainsail foot, and sent down the companionway, can be done only on boats rigged with loose-footed mainsails. Used frequently on big boats, it’s a safe play in windy conditions.

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Take down: The Mexican

In a Mexican, the chute is gybed and doused to windward. It’s crucial to correctly time the turn with the halyard release. Buddy Melges coined this term while sailing with America3 in 1992 off San Diego. He warned his crew that if they didn’t get the chute down, they’d be forced to sail to Mexico.

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