Symmetric Spinnakers


Compared with other types of rig, the modern bermudan sail plan is highly efficient to windward. Downwind, though, it’s a different story – and that’s where spinnakers and cruising chutes come in.

Not so long ago, lightweight downwind sails were regarded by many cruising sailors as the exclusive preserve of the racing fraternity, who employed vast crews to tussle with acres of unruly spinnaker nylon. But the reality is now very different. In the same way that upwind sailing has been made less strenuous by the increasing popularity of selftacking jibs, fully-battened mainsails and cockpit-controlled reefing systems, developments with spinnakers and cruising chutes have resulted in more stable, easily-managed sails which can be comfortably handled by smaller crews.

For optimum efficiency, you need a spinnaker whose tack is projected from the end of a pole to bring it out from behind the mainsail on a broad reach or run. The drawback is that, since the sail is larger than a cruising chute and only firmly attached at one corner (the head), it needs more care in hoisting, trimming and dowsing.

A cruising chute, on the other hand, is smaller and easier to manage, but less efficient as the wind comes further astern. The solution we often suggest is to have one of each: perhaps a 0.9oz spinnaker for racing, and light weather running/broad reaching in cruising mode, plus a 1.5oz cruising chute. Not only can the chute be tacked to the stemhead when cruising but, flown from the pole as an asymmetric spinnaker, it will double as a highly effective reaching kite in breezy conditions.

This way, you’ll keep the family happy and have a ‘secret weapon’ on the race course!

Kemp Sails Spinnakers are designed & shaped using the following Panel layouts:

Radial Head Spinnaker
Broad-shouldered – ideal for running, and broad reaching in light conditions. Made with radial panels in the head and horizontal seams in the lower section.

Tri-Radial Spinnaker
Panels radiating from each of the three corners provide a more stable shape which, especially when combined with a narrower head, is better for reaching.

Full-Radial Spinnaker
Without the horizontal centre seams, this design ensures optimum shape stability by lining the panels up with the stress patterns throughout the sail. The best all-round/reaching spinnaker for larger boats.