WHICH SPINNAKER IS BEST?
Q: My boat does not have a spinnaker, and I am considering buying one. However, I don’t know if I should buy an asymmetrical spinnaker or a symmetrical one. Can you advise? Blake Anderson, email@example.com
BRIAN HANCOCK REPLIES
The answer to that question largely depends on the kind of sailing you plan to do. Most sailors have gone away from using a symmetrical spinnaker for a number of reasons: first and foremost among them, the fact that it’s a lot more work to set and douse. If you don’t already have a spinnaker pole and the other necessary associated rigging, you will also have to go out and buy the equipment. With an asymmetrical, on the other hand, you just need to attach the tack at the bow along with a sheet block along the leeward rail and then hoist with the halyard. It’s also easier to set and douse, especially if you use some kind of dousing sock or a top-down furler.
Generalities aside, however, there are some caveats to consider. For example, with a symmetrical spinnaker you can use the pole to rotate the sail aft and away from the dead air to leeward of the mainsail. True, it’s possible to do that with an asymmetrical, but it’s not as easy and requires a delicate touch on the helm. Therefore, if you are going offshore and will have plenty of steady, favorable air, such as the Northeast Trades, a symmetrical spinnaker would be my first choice, since you will be doing a lot of sailing downwind. Sure, it takes some additional effort to set, but if it’s going to be up for days or even weeks on end, that small amount of extra effort is far outweighed by the advantage of being able to rotate the sail aft.
There are pros and cons to going with an asymmetrical spinnaker
BRIAN HANCOCK IS A SAILMAKER, WHITBREAD RACE VETERAN AND CREATOR OF GREATCIRCLESAILS.COM