Pre­vent­ing a wrap

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When hoist­ing straight from the bag, the aim is to sep­a­rate the clews then get the head to full hoist as quickly as pos­si­ble. Al­ways sheet the guy or tack on first; if it’s breezy you can wool this front cor­ner. Hoist­ing be­hind a jib will keep wind out of the head for longer and avoid it spin­ning on the hal­yard swivel. If you are sail­ing with crew, your bow­man can also run the leech of the sail as it goes up.

Hoist­ing from a snuffer, the head will al­ready be in the air so you only need to stretch out the foot. Get your tack or guy on be­fore hoist­ing the sock, then steer a deep course to re­duce ap­par­ent wind. As the sock goes up, sheet on as hard as you can. Be ready to ease the sheet the minute the sail fills.

Wraps while hoist­ing and gy­bing

With the jib still up, the fore­deck crew should grab the spin­naker leech from be­hind the jib and pull down on it hard, gath­er­ing the ma­te­rial in their hands to try and make a straight line down the leech. This will de­flate the sail and can of­ten chase the wrap out through the top.

If the wrap is not mov­ing and the hal­yard is at full hoist, ease the head by a max­i­mum of 3m, this will al­low the sail to fly away from the mast giv­ing ex­tra room for the swivel to work. Pull on the leech again, but if the wrap will not come out you may need to drop the spin­naker.

For sails in snuffers, eas­ing the hal­yard will not help the head spin, your only op­tion is to pull down on the leech. Take ex­treme care: con­sider clip­ping on and be ready to re­lease the sail if it sud­denly fills.

Asym­met­ric spin­naker wraps while gy­bing can nor­mally be pulled out by sheet­ing on and head­ing up af­ter the gybe – it’s all about how quickly you can get leech ten­sion on the new sheet. If that doesn’t work, some­times the best op­tion is to gybe straight back. If you can see the spin­naker wrap­ping dur­ing the gybe, go back, then try again.

Wraps around the forestay

Th­ese are the worst kind of wraps, as they can stop the spin­naker from com­ing down. They nor­mally hap­pen when the sail has been mo­men­tar­ily de­flated, of­ten at night time, in sloppy seas, when sail­ing dead down­wind or when the helms­man is dis­tracted. 1 2 3 4


Use lu­mi­nous tape to make the leeches of your spin­nakers vis­i­ble in the dark. This will help you see the kite col­laps­ing If your spin­naker bags are old and soft, in­vest in new ones with good Vel­cro and solid sides to keep the sail well packed in the bag

If you’ve not used your snuffer for a while, lie it out on the dock, lift the sock and run the tapes

When the spin­naker is fly­ing, al­ways keep spare hal­yards at the mast, not on the pul­pit to pre­vent the sail from tan­gling with the lines

If rac­ing, you should be able to avoid this through good com­mu­ni­ca­tion: if the trim­mer feels the ap­par­ent breeze drop or sees the spin­naker start to col­lapse they can call the helms­man to steer up. On longer pas­sages you can hoist some­thing up the forestay to stop the spin­naker from pass­ing through the gap. A small jib works well on boats with bowsprits or symmetric kites.

If fly­ing a cruis­ing chute from the bow, us­ing a jib may smother the chute, so another method must be found. A spin­naker net is a sail made of mesh that is specif­i­cally de­signed for this pur­pose and can be made up by a sail­maker.

Al­ter­na­tively, cre­ate a web your­self us­ing a spare hal­yard and babystay or emer­gency forestay. Pass the hal­yard around the forestay, then the in­ner stay and back to the forestay a few times to cre­ate a web that the spin­naker can­not pass through. Bear in mind that this so­lu­tion would make a quick gybe or jib hoist quite dif­fi­cult.

If you do get a forestay wrap it can be an enor­mous job to undo. The im­por­tant rule is to know when to cut your losses. It is pos­si­ble to ‘sail out’ th­ese wraps but is also easy to sail more in. Un­less you are con­fi­dent that you can sort the mess out, quit while you are ahead and get the sail down.

Un­wind­ing a spin­naker wrap from the forestay can be dif­fi­cult

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