Cruising Code Zero – Cruising Spinnakers

Shown above is a Berckemeyer 45 with a Cruising Code Zero (left) and a Cruising Spinnaker (right). Notice how the Code Zero is a much flatter “triangular” shaped sail that is designed for close reaching. The Cruising Spinnaker is bigger and rounder and designed for broad reaching. Photos courtesy Berckemeyer Yacht Design.

The Code Zero is a cross between a genoa and an asymmetrical spinnaker that is used for sailing close to the wind in light air. Code Zero was initially an attempt to circumvent a rating rule by making a large genoa for close reaching on boats that were measured with non-overlapping genaos. The Code Zero got around the rule by measuring in as a very narrow-flat spinnaker with shape similar to a reaching geona.  When not constrained by rating rules, cruising sailors have a lot more options on the size and shape of a “code” sail. 

UK Sailmakers offers two different Cruising Code sails depending on whether your boat has an overlapping genoa or a non-overlapping genoa.

Many modern cruising boats come with large mainsails and non-overlapping jibs because that sail-plan is easier for couples to handle. The Code Zero for these boats can be used as soon as the boat bears off from a beat. The sail is very flat and is designed for close reaching. It has a nearly straight luff, a mid girth about 60-65% of the sail’s foot length. This sail is closer in shape to a traditional drifter than a spinnaker. Even though this sail is smaller than a Code Zero on a race boat, it is more than twice the size of the non-overlapping jib and gives much more power for close reaching. With a straight luff, the sail rolls up very well. The Berckemeyer 45 shown above has this type of Code Zero.   

For boats with overlapping genoas, the Code Zero is designed to come into use at deeper wind angles since the boat will stayed powered up as the overlapping genoa is eased out. The Code Zero we design looks much more like a spinnaker with a mid girth between 75-85% of foot length, deeper and more powerful sections, a positive luff curve and positive roach.

Cruising Code Zero for non-overlapping boats

Optimized for boats with non-overlapping genoa

  • Apparent wind angle: 45-110 degrees.

  • Mid girth measurement 60-65% of the foot

  • Apparent wind speed: 1-16 knots.

  • Approximately 60% of the sail area of a full-size spinnaker and about twice the size of a non-overlapping genoa.

  • Use with a “top down” roller/furler with a torsion rope sewn into the sail.

  • Made with Code Zero laminate cloth.

Cruising Code Zero for overlapping boats

Optimized for boats with overlapping genoas

Apparent wind angle: 60°-140°.
Apparent wind speed: 1-16 knots.
Approximately 70-75% of the sail area of a full-size spinnaker.
Mid girth measurement 75-85% of foot length.
A reaching sail that compliments a cruising spinnaker.
Deeper shape than a true Code Zero since the overlapping genoa can be used for the closest reaching angles.
Can be used with either a “top down” furler and detached torsion line or spinnaker dousing sock.
Material is Code 0 laminate or 1.5 oz. nylon.

LEFT: Notice how much narrower and flatter the Code Zero is on boats with non-overlapping jibs. These sails are needed as soon as the jib sheet can be eased. RIGHT: On boats with big over-lapping genoas, the Code Zero is not needed for extremely close reaching, which allows the Code Zero to be designed rounder and bigger for sailing slightly broader angles.

UK Sailmakers designs cruising code zeros where the width of the sail is narrower than on race boats, which makes the sail easier to fly and more versatile. These shots show a cruising code zero on a Beneteau Oceanis 55.

YouTube video

Handling Options (Furlers)

There are three different methods for controlling a cruising Code Zero. For boats 33 feet and smaller, sails are small enough that a furler is not necessary. For mid-sized boats 33-44 feet, a simple direct furler is the best option; for boats over 42 feet, you’ll need a top-down furler to handle the Code Zero which is getting quite big. There are many different companies making innovative furling units for Code Zeros. Talk to your local UK Sailmakers representative to find out which one will work best for your boat and budget.

YouTube video

Above Left: A cruising code zero sailing at 55 degrees apparent wind angle with the halyard as tight as possible to straighten the luff. Above Right: the same sail sailing further downwind at 110 degrees apparent wind angle. When sailing deeper angles the halyard can be eased to make the sail fuller.


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