Asymmetric Spinnakers


With its clew higher than the tack, it looks like a Cruising Chute, but with much more curvature and area on the Luff and Leech. Often an Asymmetric flies from a bowsprit or pole for the ultimate in reaching performance and to gain space for Gybing through in front of the Forestay.

Full-radial construction ensures panels are lined up with loads. Generally, these sails are better suited to deeper wind angles as their larger area and Full Shoulders make sailing tight reaching angles difficult on anything but the lighter wind days.

If you’ve been put off spinnakers by witnessing or experiencing wraps, broaches and assorted mishaps, take heart. By following a few simple rules and not trying anything too ambitious, you’ll find it’s all pretty simple! And you’ll be amazed at how much faster, steadier and more enjoyable your downwind sailing becomes.

When hoisting an Asymmetric/Gennaker), you have a choice of launching it from the bow or the leeward side. As a rule, the second option is safer because you hoist in the lee of the genoa. We supply different types of bag according to your preference – a round one for attaching to the pulpit, a rectangular side launching bag or a Companionway Launch bag (which needs lines to hang on).

As for the rest of the equipment, on most boats, you just need a pair of sheets (ideally tied onto the Sail’s Clew corner) and one Tack Line – with a substantial Block for turning each line (One on the Bow right forward and two on the aft Quarters). The Tack Line ideally will have a Snap Shackle to attach to the Tack ring and allows easy release in an emergency, and of course the Halyard itself. Ensure the sheets are led outside everything and that the ‘lazy’ sheet goes around in front of the Forestay.

Put the boat onto a Broad Reach and with all the lines set up ready hoist the sail. If you have a genoa set then roll it up afterwards – as the wind shadow will help you fully hoist the sail before it sets. As soon as the halyard reaches the Top sheet on the Leeward sheet and check that the sail has filled correctly. Roll away the Genoa (if necessary) and trim the sail essentially like a Genoa, but easing until the Luff just curls and the trimming back on.

Deeper sailing angles can be achieved with racing Asymmetrics – often easing the Tack line by as much as a meter and healing the boat to windward help Downwind progress (VMG).

To drop an Asymmetric or Gennaker sail in a competitive environment, it would be normal not to use a snuffer and to let the Halyard off in a controlled manner, so as to allow the crew to recover the sail onto the deck or below on the Leeward side.