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Ask Sail: Spinnaker Conundrums

Spinnaker conundrum

Q: I have an old 30ft C&C from the mid-80s. It was originally equipped with a conventional spinnaker, but a spinnaker hasn’t been flown from the boat in years. I don’t even own one now! I was thinking of trying an A-sail. Is it absolutely necessary to have a sprit to fly one of these kinds of sails? Also, can a sprit be added to a boat like mine?

— Sam Spender, Toledo, OH

BRIAN HANCOCK REPLIES

You can definitely fly an asymmetrical spinnaker from your boat, and, no, you don’t need a sprit, although it will work better if you have one. To fly the sail you will need to attach a block to the bow of your boat and then lead the tack line through to a cleat. You can then fly the sail just like that. Be aware that at closer wind angles it will not be very efficient, so to help things out you might want to buy a product called a Tacker (atninc.com), which wraps around the forestay and furled headsail (assuming you have one). You then attach the tack of your spinnaker to the Tacker, which will keep the sail close to the centerline of the boat and also raise it up where it will get much clearer air, making it a much more efficient way to set the sail. Note, there are also many companies out that make bowsprits you can easily add to the bow of your boat. By adding a sprit, you will be able to move the spinnaker even further away from the rest of your sailplan, out into even clearer air and away from the clutter at the bow of your boat.

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