Ask SAIL: Trimming an A-sail Tackline

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askSailNov01

Q: I fly an asymmetrical spinnaker from a sprit on my 35-footer and was wondering about how best to trim the tack line. I’ve seen cases in which other sailors have brought the tack of the sail all the way to the sprit, and cases in which there are a couple of feet of tackline between the sprit and the sail. Is there a right way and a wrong way? Should I be adjusting the tackline in and out depending on angle of sail or wind speeds?

— Amber Ratner, Parma, OH

BRIAN HANCOCK REPLIES

Yes, you should adjust the tackline for different points of sail and different wind speeds. If you are on a reach, you want the luff of the sail to be fairly tight, so crank the tack all the way down to the sprit. This straightens out the luff and brings the draft of the sail forward, which is what you are looking for. As you bear away toward a run, however, you want to be able to rotate the sail around to windward to make sure it gets plenty of clean air. So ease off the tack and let the sail rise up a little. That said, if you are sailing deep downwind in quite a lot of wind keep it cranked down. You want as much control over the spinnaker as you can get, and tightening up the luff will help stop it from oscillating to a point where you could get into trouble.

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