Bag Boat Spinnaker Hoists

Updated January 14, 1997

After talking with a number of new 505 sailors at the Midwinters, I realized that spinnaker hoists on a bag (non spinnaker launcher) boat need to be better explained..... so here goes...

Though the spinnaker launcher used by most 505s makes spinnaker handling easier, any maneuver done by a launcher 505 can be matched by a spinnaker bag 505.... sometimes the maneuvers need a little more practice to get them right.

On Shore

With a well rigged reverse purchase 1:4 spinnaker halyard, and no launcher tube friction, you should be able to ouhoist a launcher boat. However, you have to have everything right for the launch to go smoothly. This starts with working - and minimal friction - control systems. If you have a thin wire halyard, replace it with 7/64" spectra or similar very thin hi-tech line. Ensure that the moving double block does not catch on anything between the forward bulkhead and the spinnaker halyard cleat. Make sure there is minimal friction on the part of the spinnaker halyard you pull (the thick line), and make sure the line is easy to cleat, and will stay cleated under high load.

The thick line you pull on should cleat automatically, regardless of the angle you pull the line at. Having to reach in the boat and cleat it, or stand in the back of the boat to line it up properly is SLOW!

If your bags have covers, consider tying the port cover open so there is less friction getting the spinnaker up. Mark your starboard tack guy so that you can pop it in the cleat at the location that just keeps the spinnaker pole off the forestay. Use a stopper ball on the port tack guy such that the ball jams and keeps the spinnaker pole just off the forestay, or at least close to it, so you only have to pull back a little and pop the guy into the guy cleat at the starboard to port tack gybe. For the ball and the mark to be in the correct places, you have to tie the knots in the same places each time. We mark the sheets where they should go through the cringles in the spinnaker clews so that the knot gets tied in the same spot each time.

Tie the halyard and sheets on with bowlines - some crews use a more compact knot whose name escapes me for the sheets, stuff the spinnaker in the port bag, take up the slack and cleat the spinnaker sheets in the tidy up cleats, and clip the spinnaker halyard in the halyard clip - usually mounted on the bulkhead at deck height, just aft of the bag.

On The Water

Launch the spinnaker before the race and make sure it goes up right and is correctly threaded. On the douse, take care while stuffing it into the bag that you do not twist it. If in doubt, grab the starboard clew and run your hands along the starboard leech to the head. Lay the starboard leech on top of the sail in the bag. Uncleat the port twing.

Approaching the Windward Mark

On your last port tack on the beat, unclip the spinnaker halyard from the clip and ensure that the port twing is uncleated. If it is windy, uncleat the spinnaker sheet from the tidy up cleat on the port side; if light leave it cleated.

On the starboard tack into the mark (on the layline), the crew grabs the guy just behind the twing, and pulls on it, dragging the starboard clew of the spinnaker out of the bag and forward along the foredeck. Pull the guy out past the mark, then ease it to the mark and cleat it. The starboard clew of the spinnaker will be lying on the deck approximately a foot from the jib tack. The guy will be going around the forestay; you pull it too far and then ease it so it is not longer affecting the jib shape.

If it is at all windy, the skipper should ease the vang and possibly even start the board up, while still on the layline.

Bear off around the mark. If windy get board up first and dump more vang, otherwise go for the hoist right away. CREW SHEETS JIB IN HARD!!! This gets the jib inboard of the bag so the spinnaker does not catch on the foot of the jib. Crew puts guy in end of pole - I use a Z-spar fork end - and starts pushing the pole out. At the same time, the skipper goes for the halyard and pulls it up as fast as possible. One should not wait for the other. If the wind is light enough that you left the sheet cleated, the spinnaker will fill with a "pop" and you will be off down the reach. Get the jib eased, vang right, ease cunningham, make sure board is about right and sail fast!

Getting the spinnaker filling is a higher priority than getting the jib or main right. In breeze, not capsizing or heeling and slowing down is an even higher priority, so you delay the hoist just long enough to get the vang off, and board up. You can always fine tune vang and board once you are planing.

Some More Thoughts

If you were unable to leave the sheet cleated due to breeze, the skipper can grab it and hand it to the crew, saving the crew diving to leeward for it after getting the pole on. Do not pull on the sheet trying to fill the chute until the pole is on the mast! Few crews can get the pole pushed forward and clip it on the mast, if the spinnaker is full in windy conditions.

If its windy, get the board up more and the vang way off before hoisting. As soon as the kite is up and the crew is on the wire, you can adjust board and vang if necessary.

Ease the jib as soon as possible. If windy, just uncleat it and let it luff until you have time to cleat it at the proper place. If you tie the jib sheet to the trapeze handle, the crew going out on the wire will pull on the jib sheet and make it easy for either skipper or crew to adjust it, after everything else is done. If light air, the crew can get it once the spinnaker is flying.

Getting Down the Reach

Somethings to think about besides hoisting.
I'm sure I have forgotten stuff here.... if you have any comments or suggestions, you can e-mail them to me, or post them on the bulletin board.



Here are a couple of thoughts. Last fall I experimented with stopper balls both port and starboard. Tyler said thats how they did it on the 470. With this system you leave the weather twing uncleated. As you come into the mark, we pull the guy back, cleat the weather twing and your done. We found pulling the twing on a less critical step for presetting guy than cleating the sheet on a specific mark.

Also on my 1 to 4, I have the "OLD MAN LINE". Instead of dead ending the spinnaker halyard on the bulkhead, you replace the single block on the bulkhead with a double block and run the halyard to a cleat aft on the thwart by the cleat for the 1 to 4 handle. This is 1 to 1 and if you miss on the set you can pull the chute up fully loaded. This fall I changed to a 3/32 yale Airicom T halyard and tied the end to a block thus creating a 2 to 1 mechanical advantage with a thicker line since a cleat would not hold 3/32". You can still pull the chute up 6 ft with this line. When I miss it is usually only by a couple of feet. I will let you know how it works this spring. The 3/32 yale has a tensile strength of around 1800 lb., more than 1/16' wire.

Us bag boat people have to stick together.


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