Spinnaker Cleats
from the e-mail list

Paul Von Grey asks:

Can somebody shed some light for me, on the way the spin guy cleats in. Is the cleat on the seat tank used for the pole or just as a "clean up"? I have seen some systems using stopper balls for the pole, is this way good or bad? If you are going dead down, where do you cleat off the pole? The new Waterat specs are one cleat on the tank and one in front of the shroud, does the stopper ball replace the cleat in front of the shroud just making it non adjusting?
My boat was never rigged completely so I am willing to try about anything, all suggestions welcome.

Paul Von Grey
US 4019


I am doing what I think is exactly what you are doing, setting up spinnaker rigging for the first time. The solution I have worked out is this. I am going to put a hook under each shroud attachment eye-bolt, extending outboard with the hook down. Just behind (~2") each shroud there will be a cam cleat angled so a line (the guy) running under the hook can be pulled slightly inboard and run through the cleat. Aft, 28" to 30" from the transom, I mount a single bullet block on a shackle to an eyestrap that is bent around the rail... one screw in the top of the tank and one in the side of the rail (like where, forward, the crew places their feet while on the trapese). Then on the transom about an inch down and two inches in from where the transom fairs into the tank, I put another block... A little bigger since the turning angle is almost 180 degrees. Then forward on the inside of the tank just below and forward of the turning block for the jib I put another on the bigger (1.25") blocks. Then right opposite there on the c.b. trunk cap I put another cam cleat (tidy cleat). Do this on both sides.

This setup has all the same blocks, used in other "fancy" setups, to route the sheet/guy from one corner of the spinnaker, back around and thru the boat and to the other corner of the sail. Whichever side of the continuous loop is the "guy", that side goes under the hook and in the cleat. The cleat position, up close and slightly inboard keeps the guy from dropping out the bottom of the hook if the guy slacks. The "sheet" side is not cleated and not under the hook, so it flys from the block aft on the rail. The turning blocks on the transom send the lines forward to the blocks below and ahead of the jib turning blocks; from them the sheet leads across the boat to the "crew", who tends the sheet. There should be enough slack in the loop for the guy to be also cleated in the "tidy cleat" on the cb cap while the crew is on the wire with the sheet in hand. This is probably not so quick to gybe as a setup with "twinning lines" to pull down the guy at the base of the shroud, but a simple hook saves a bunch of rigging complexity and can easily be upgraded later when, hopefully, I learn what I am doing.

John Dean
US5518 "Miss Scarlet"


You should place the guy cleats angled inboard slightly from the line between the guy hook and the the sheeve mounted back on the gunwhale, but too far of line, about half an inch. That way you can pull on the guy at the (windward) sheet cleat to release the guy cleat when you want to since the tension will pull the guy out of line and free of the guy cleat. This facilitates a good technique we used approaching the leeward mark on a spinnaker reach. It worked like this.

1, sail a little low of the lay line (go faster on a tight three sail reach)

2. at spinnaker drop time, helmsman stands up astride tiller and hands mainsheet to crew on wire.

3. helmsman starts to lower spin as fast as possible.

4. Crew (still out on wire) flicks sheets clear of cleats as spin retracts into chute.

5. As spin comes down crew (still flat out on wire) hardens up on mainsheet to maintain trapezing load and helmsman allows boat to point up to layline.

6. Helmsman releases guy from pole and then joins crew on weather gunwhale.

7. Crew tidies up sheets if time permits before rounding.

This technique gained us mega places at leeward roundings as we carried speed all the way to the mark, passing all the boats that had bourne off because their crewman was standing up in the middle of the boat and couldn't maintain speed.

hope this helps

Will Hartje


I think every variation you described is in use by some 505s. A number of different systems can be made to work.

Waterat standard:
Clam cleat raised on wooden block, just aft of shroud, on rail as a guy cleat. Also "tidy up" cleats on seat tank. We have this.... cleat guy in guy cleat, never cleat sheet, and use the "tidy up" cleats to stop sheets dragging in the water while going upwind. You can also use the tidy up cleat as an assist while easing the guy forward as a reach gets tighter..... cleat line loosely in tidy up, then pop out of guy cleat so line tightens as pole goes forward, then drop back into guy cleat.

We add a stopper ball on the port side sheet, such that the ball jams against the twing when the pole is just about on the forestay. This is with a bag boat.... with a launcher boat, you would use two stopper balls or knots, and put them inside the boat, so they jam against the ratchet block on the tank, again the length is such that the pole is just off the forestay. I do not trust the stopper ball (which cannot be a knot on a bag boat) to hold the entire load, so drop the guy in the cleat while gybing... actually very easy, as the stopper ball positions it properly for you. With knots on a launcher boat, you could get away without cleating the guy (But have a longer piece of line to stretch)

Take off guy cleats and just use stopper balls and tidy up cleats.... I don't like this as I find it easy - as the skipper - to drop the guy into the guy cleat on the rail when gybing... much harder for me to put it in the tidy up cleat. OTOH, Ian Barker does this... also has balls/knots positioned so that the pole never gets very close to the forestay

Use cam cleats rather the the clam cleat....

On a bag boat, put stopper balls on both sides (jamming against twing)... you have to have a long twing line, and ALWAYS have the leeward twing uncleated for the douse (otherwise you cannot get the kite in the windward bag)..

I like having the guy cleats, as the crew can adjust the guy easily when sitting forward against the shroud in lighter air and broader reaches...

We rarely go dead downwind... though there are conditions or tactical situations where you do.. vang off, main out, pole pulled way back, board up, heel to windward slightly.. steer by heel. Normally the crew has their outboard hand on the guy, with the guy cleated in the guy cleat.... so that crew can let guy go and have it go forward a foot or two... for pumping it is easier to pull the guy sideways between the spinnaker and the guy cleat, rather than trying to pull straight back on it.


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