, 2022-12-15 00:36:47,
Sailing downwind can be slow without extra canvas. Rachael Sprot explores extra sail options and lists the pros and cons of downwind sails
The words ‘pink spinnaker’ are enough to send a chill down the spine of anyone who’s ever watched Cowes Week disaster footage. There’s Atalanta of Chester, which dis-masted when their fuchsia-coloured kite wrapped around the anchor of a tanker in August 2011. And who hasn’t seen the iconic image of Silk II as she nose-dived into the Solent in a 40-knot squall? It’s enough to put you off the big downwind sails for life.
But, like it or not, as you bear away through the wind angles you need additional downwind sails to maintain good passage speeds, rather than languishing under white canvas. The good news is that in the last two decades we’ve seen huge advances in sail design and sail handling technology. Asymmetrics, code sails, snuffers, furlers and laminates have all become much more accessible to us humble cruisers. But which of these sails would most suit you, your boat and your cruising plans?
I joined Mathias and Sybille Keim on board their brand new X5.6, Pure Fun, in Southampton to compare their gennaker, Code Zero and Parasailor spinnaker. Under the old racing rules a spinnaker was any sail where its width halfway up was 75% or more of the foot length.
A sail with a 10m foot length would need to be 7.5m across at the mid-height to count as a spinnaker. Anything below this was a headsail. These days, there’s…
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