Re: [BCC Forum Post] pelorus32: Asymmetric Spinnakers

When we owned our aft-cabin Flicka African Moon
( ) we gained some experience setting a
drifter and various chutes - large and small asymmetric chutes and
tri-radial without a pole. We are not racing oriented and have not set a
drifter or chute on our BCC IDUNA.

Our thoughts on the subject, based on our limited experience follow:

Of all the light wind sails, the drifter is the easiest to set and control.
We installed a long pendent on the tack and hanked the sail on the jib stay,
such that the tack was above the flaked jib. Performance upwind was
excellent. Tack angle was estimated at 60 degrees to the true wind. This
sail was a real “work horse” and was frequently used in the light air
conditions of summer on the Chesapeake Bay.

We experimented with flying different chutes ranging from a small asymmetric
spinnaker to a large tri-radial chute designed for a 26 ft racing sloop
(note: African Moon’s mast was 33 ft from deck to masthead.). As you would
expect, all the chutes worked very well downwind. Of the two types of
chutes, tri-radial and asymmetric, we like the asymmetric spinnaker because
it is the easier to set and take down. Of the two asymmetric spinnakers, we
perferred the smaller spinnaker set high on the mast. This sail proved to
be a “mule” and pulled the boat along at a good clip. As an example, broad
reaching in wind speeds of 6 to 8 knots with the small spinnaker and vanged
mainsail, boat speed was 3 to 4 knots and the boat was under control at all
times - windvane steering.

I used a form of the word “easy” thoughout my discussion. We have slowly
discovered over the years, if a task is easy to do on a boat, then we will
use the equipment but if it takes too much effort to setup, then the
equipment is very seldom used. As an example, when we first started to use
the drifter on African Moon, we removed the jib before hanking on the light
wind sail, hence we were reluctant to use the drifter or switch out the jib
for the drifter. Once we started to use a long tack pendent on the drifter
and set the sail above the jib, we used the drifter without reluctance
because it was easy to set and take down and more importantly, we did not
have to handle the jib while out on the widow maker.

If and when we decide to purchased a spinnaker for IDUNA, we will purchase a
small asymmetric spinnaker, perhaps fitted with an ATN sock. Boat speed is
important to us, but not as important as safety and ease of handling a sail,
hence the choice of a smaller sized asymmetric spinnaker and perhaps the ATN
sock. The ATN sock requires more storage space than a free setting
spinnaker, hence we will test the spinnaker without the sock then make a
decision wheather to purchase a sock.

Fair Winds,


I’m the owner of Zuline, an Itchen Ferry. We’re wondering about downwind
sails. I notice a picture of Surprise, in the gallery, flying what appears
to be an asymmetric. This is what our sail maker has recommended.

I’d be very interested in members’ experience with various downwind

We are trying to achieve 3 things:

  1. better light wind performance, particularly at AWA of 50 degrees +

  2. the ability to sail deeper than our current 130 degrees AWA without a

  3. achieving the above without a pole.

thoughts gratefully received.