UK Sailmakers' Encyclopedia of Sails

6.2 - Spinnaker Jibes

Perhaps no sailing maneuver calls for better crew coordination than the spinnaker jibe. There are two basic jibing techniques:

1. Dip-Pole: This system is used on boats over 30 feet. It utilizes two sheets and two guys attached to each clew of the spinnaker.

2. End for End: This jibing technique is universally used on one designs and is workable on boats up to 30 feet.

The Dip-Pole Jibe

With two sheets and two guys, this system converts the spinnaker jibe from the classification of “To be avoided at all costs” to the point where a practiced crew can handle a jibe with ease. The beauty of this method is the strain of the spinnaker is taken with one 

set of sheets and guys so that during the jibe the bowman can easily get the unloaded new guy into the pole. The dip pole method works like this:

1. When the call for the jibe comes, the mastman raises the inboard end of the spinnaker pole up the mast so that when the pole swings through the foretriangle it will clear the forestay.

2.The spinnaker pole topping lift is lowered so that the outboard end is just above the bow pulpit when it swings across the boat. (To ensure that the pole swings across the bow in the same arc, jibe after jibe you need to mark the mast and the topping lift. The mast should be marked at the height that the inboard end of the pole reaches when it is raised, while the topping lift is marked so that the outboard end of the pole may always be lowered to the same position.)

3. The bowman goes to the pulpit with unloaded spinnaker guy in hand.

4. The helmsman turns the boat dead downwind.

5. As the boat turns, the spinnaker guy is tight-ened until the pole is perpendicular to the centerline of the boat. Trimming the pole perpendicular like this rotates the spinnaker to what will be the new leeward side of the boat.

6. When the boat is dead downwind, the skipper yells “Trip” which tells the mastman to open the outboard jaw of the pole so that the guy flies free of the pole. (Make sure that the pole is always set with the jaws facing up.) With the guy free, the sail is controlled by the two spinnaker sheets.

7. The mastman pulls the pole to the bowman in the pulpit using the trip line.

8. As the pole comes over, the mainsail is swung over to the new side.

. When the bowman gets the new guy in the spinnaker pole jaw, he yells “Made!” which tells the person trimming the guy that he can now tension it. Once the guy is tensioned, the old sheet is released.

10. Finally, the spinnaker is trimmed to the wind, the topping lift is raised and the inboard end of the pole is lowered.


The end-for-end method is only viable on boats below 30 feet because the spinnaker pole becomes free from the mast during the jibe. For the crew to handle the loose pole, the pole must be small and light enough to be lifted and pushed into position.

During an end-for-end jibe, the pole is disconnected from the mast, and disconnected from the sail. Free from the sail, the pole hangs from the topping lift. The end that was hooked to the mast is then connected to the spinnaker sheet and the end that was hooked to the spinnaker guy is hooked to the mast. 

This system requires a bridle for both the topping lift and the foreguy so that neither require trimming during the jibe. The pole should be attached to the mast with the jaws up.

The steps for an end-to-end jibe are as follows:

1. As the jibe starts, either the downhaul or guy is eased to facilitate removing the pole from the mast. 

2. The sheet is brought in close to the shroud where the foredeck crew can grab it.

3. The boat is turned dead downwind.

4. The pole is disconnected from the mast.

5. The guy is released from the end of the pole.

6. The old sheet is connected to the end of the pole that was on the mast.

7. The pole is pushed out and forward on the new windward side.

8. The pole is attached to the mast and the mastman yells made.

9. The cockpit crew trims the spinnaker to the wind.