Setting the cruising chute
A cruising chute is an asymmetrical sail with a permanent tack and clew. It works like a large loose-luffed genoa so is often seen as a simpler sail to use than a spinnaker. It is variously called a cruising chute, an asymmetric spinnaker or a genaker. A Code 0 is very similar, but has a flatter cut for using closer to the wind.
By adjusting the length of the tack line to tension or slacken the luff, the sail’s shape can be made flatter or fuller to allow it to sail from 80º to 120º to the apparent wind in conjunction with a main. On its own, a cruising chute can take the boat dead downwind and even by as much as up to 20º by the lee before you have to gybe.
1 ATTACH AT THE BOW
Set up a tackle in the bow, outboard of the forestay, to gybe the chute. I have a D-ring on the stem head. Using a Dyneema over a conventional shackle removes any metal-on-metal friction. It’s also quicker to set.
2 RUN THE TACK LINE
With the tackle attached, run the tack line back to the cockpit rather than cleating it at the bow. We can now control the height of the tack and with it, control the luff tension and depth of the sail.
3 ATTACH THE SHEETS
Attach both sheets to the clew. I use snap shackles for this but bowlines are fine. For light wind sailing, some boats use thinner line so as not to weigh the sail down, or you can unclip the lazy sheet.
4 LEAD THE SHEETS
The leeward sheet is led outside the shrouds and guardrail to a block on the quarter and then back to a winch. Don’t put a figure of eight in the end so it can run.
5 KEEP THE LAZY SHEET CLEAR
The lazy, or windward sheet, will be led outside the forestay, then outside the guardrail on the windward side to a block on the quarter, then into the cockpit to keep it out the way. Lead the sheet around the outside of the sail so the sail goes all the way round the front in a gybe.
This will stop it getting stuck on the forestay, but watch the sheet doesn’t fall under the bow. You can also rig the sheet inside the genoa (but outside the forestay) so that the chute gybes through the gap like a genoa.
6 AVOID TRAILING SHEETS
Try to avoid trailing any sheets in the water at any point because of their propensity to get wrapped round propellers or jammed in the pintles of the rudder. Remember, no knots on spinnaker or cruising chute sheets or halyards. These are powerful sails and we want to be able to let them fly in a hurry if you become suddenly overpowered.
Adjust the tack line to change the depth of the sail curve
It can be easy to miss a trailing sheet whilst concentrating on snuffing the sail