Downwind sail choices:

Here at PBS we talk to owners equipping their yachts for intended use on a daily basis, whether it is to use locally, cruise the East coast, or beyond, and there is very frequently a dilemma about what choice to make regarding down-wind sail choices. The most obvious and cost effective way to sail down-wind is to simply pole out your headsail, and while this works well if you have a reasonable overlap, if you have a short-overlap or self-tacking headsail then this doesn’t offer a lot of off-wind power, so often an owner will look at a way of boosting off-the-wind power.

So, that leads to three choices being a symmetric cruising spinnaker in a sock, an asymmetric spinnaker using either a sock or top-down furler, or a Code 0 with furler.

Obviously a conventional spinnaker in a sock is limited in the down-wind angles that it can be used in, and if it becomes over-powered you need the sea room to be able to run deep and shadow it behind the mainsail in order to be able to use the sock to collapse it, but there is certainly something very enjoyable about cruising downwind under a spinnaker.

With an asymmetric spinnaker, where you’re having to sail angles down-wind, gybing manoeuvres have to be much more frequent, and unless the wind is very light will usually require snuffing or furling it to gybe if you are short-handed. However the upside is you can use it to reach in lighter conditions, but be aware that once you start to get overpowered it tends to happen quite quickly and will again require sea-room to shadow the sail behind the mainsail if using a sock.

The Code 0 is normally set up with the furling line led aft to the cockpit, so can be partially or full furled as required without anyone having to move forward, which is a big advantage. However, it can’t be used to sail deep, though it is surprising how deep you can sail with one if you ease the halyard/luff and allow the sail to sag to windward, much like an asymmetric, but the halyard tension needs to be taken back up before furling. Another plus with the Code 0 is that you can sail through a much wider wind angle, being able to sail remarkably close to the wind, or as deep as you could with an asymmetrical spinnaker, and it can still be used partially furled, so you can effectively reef it and continue to use it in conditions that you couldn’t use a normal size spinnaker.

Jeanneau offer Code 0 packages as a factory option, with the choice of either a bow-sprit which is featured in most of their promotional photographs, or the choice of the twin bow-roller with a strong point. Alternatively a spinnaker pole can be offered, even though this isn’t on most of the Jeanneau price-lists.

If you are looking to retro fit and downwind sails or gear to your yacht feel free to contact our service manager Damien Goff, as he will be able to offer you the most cost effective solutions on (02)9979 9755 or service@performanceboating.com.au.