DOUBLEHANDED RACING TIPS: SPINNAKER PEELS

By Adam Loory, General Manager of UK Sailmakers International

This spring, I created a doublehanded social distancing racing series so that sailboat racing could restart safely. An unforeseen result is that my long-time friend and crewmember Gerard Girstl and I found that we really like sailing my 40-footer doublehanded. Now we have to work on our boat-handling and sail-handling techniques to do it better .

A month ago, we finished second in a 45-mile doublehanded race because we didn’t have a system to peel from the fractional Code Zero to a masthead spinnaker. As a result, we had to sail on a broad reach with our code zero for five miles, allowing our competition catch up. Last weekend, we practiced the code zero to spinnaker peel that Gerard had choreographed. Here’s our method.

  1. Bring the new spinnaker bag on deck, attach the new sheets.

  2. Not having a second tack line, the new spinnaker tack is attached to a strop around the base of the sprit.

  3. The spinnaker is raised in Velcro stops.

  4. To make it easier to gather the code zero, we have a retrieval line attached to the bail of the tack line shackle. That line is led through a snatch block attached to a fitting on the foredeck in front of the forward hatch, and then back to a winch in the cockpit. Being in the cockpit, I ease out the tackline and pull in the retrieval line until the code zero tack is at the block on the foredeck.

  5. Now the code zero halyard is lowered, and the sail is stuffed down the hatch.

  6. The tack line is unshackled from the code zero and transferred to the spinnaker.

  7. The shackle on the strop is spiked

  8. The track line is winched to bring the spinnaker tack to the end of the pole.

This maneuver took just over two minutes from start to finish. While not fast for a fully crewed team, it is much faster than a baldhead change.

Pro tip #1: Had the code zero been set-up with a roller furler, we would have furled it, then before dropping it down the forward hatch.

Pro tip #2: Transferring from the strop to the tack line could have been avoided if we had a second tackline, which we don’t.

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