Bill Bell, KIALOA, #41

The old saw says that the question well asked is half answered. Some years back, I wanted to do something inexpensive about poor downwind performance in the light airs for which the Maine coast is famous. And I wanted something new to play with. Having all Hood sails back then - late 60's - I wrote Hood for advice. They wrote back at once to say that if I was not racing and just wanting to get into spinnnakers at a modest price, that I might consider a good, used cruising spinnaker. If I didn't like it, they would take it back and so on. I told them that I would be delighted with any good used sail that they would vouch for and wound up with an old sail that had to be flown from the masthead. It was also interesting in that it was signed by Fred Hood - Ted's father! So - for not much money, I was into spinnakers. And I had some of the best sails I ever had under it. We had sails of over 40 miles, running from Rockland Harbor on the West side of Penobscot Bay, right through Fox Islands Thorofare ,Deer Islands' Merchant Row, Casco Passage and into the entrance of Mount Desert's "Western Way" before we had to dump it. A gentle, all day run. No stopping for lunch, just sailing beautifully in a way that no other rig would have delivered. Go with it! Good luck -

Rob Squire, Head Over Heels, #96

I suppose the real answer to the question is to define what type of sailing do you like to do? I am a lazy sailor! If I can set a sail and sit back, it's a good sail...if I have to work hard to keep it full, it may still be a good sail, but I won't like it as much as the easy sail. As a result of my laziness, I chose an asymmetrical spinnaker.... Cruising, cheaper than most....and am very satisfied.

The only word of caution I may have is that with a normal chute, you can run dead downwind, but with an asymmetrical you need to be a little off of downwind, but you can work farther around to a reach. Chutes can fill and be overpowered sort of quickly, so if they are new to you, a sock will be a tremendous asset to help snuff the beast in a blow. Finally, try to sail on someone else's boat with both kinds and see if it's where you really want to go....again, I'm lazy, so I find setting a chute for a long downwind pull, sometimes without any other sails up, to be a very nice way to relax and enjoy the day.

One other thought....I have a set of quarter inch sheets for the chute for those very light days that a heavier sheet will weight down the sail. oh yea, I also have the tack on a line with a block. The line leads aft so I can lift the tack up, sometimes as much a 6 or more feet to get the fat part of the sail into the wind near the mast head. More than about 15 knots of wind and I get to the "workin' way too hard" mode and the sail goes in the bag and something more tame goes up....yea, yea, yea....I'm a pussy, but gawd...I would hate to kick my gin while I wrestled with a sail!

George Jones, #236, Ca Ira

IMHO, the spinnaker is the sail that the Triton is happiest flying. I have three spinnaker's on "Ca Ira". My favorite is a symmetrical light weight cloth job that measures 30' by 30' by 19'. The others are a medium weight cloth 31' 6" by 31' 6" by 19' 3" and a heavy cloth 30' 10" by 30' 10" by 17'. I fly the spinnakers whenever possible. It is actually possible to surf a Triton if you have 18 knots of wind or more, some good sized waves, and a big enough spinnaker.

The boat hardware is simple enough to install. A ring mounted just below the spreaders for the topping lift block and a ring just above the jumper struts for the spinnaker halyard block. 6' of track and a car for the track with a spinnaker ring attached allow you to adjust the pole height. Two more blocks at the rear of the boat for the fore guy and sheet complete the setup. ( I usually just tie the downhaul to an available cleat on the foredeck )

All that's left is a spinnaker pole. I use a pole that is 2.75" in diameter and 10' 10" long with center attachment points for the topping lift, downhaul, and end cap piston lines. When not in use I hang my spinnaker pole from rings mounted on the pulpit and a lifeline stanchion.

A friend of mine just made a pole using a 12' section of 3" aluminum tubing, two spinnaker end caps from West Marine, and a pair of small pad eyes in the center to hold the lines that actuate the piston caps and serve as attachment points for the topping lift and the downhaul. The 3" pole diameter proved to be ever so slightly small for the end caps so he went to a muffler shop and asked them to slightly flare the metal in the ends of the pole to better fit the caps. Easy as pie. :-)

Two important points

#1 Running dead downwind. Spinnakers are happiest a few degrees or more either side of dead downwind, even symmetrical ones. If you are running absolutely dead downwind the boat can begin to oscillate. Once the boat starts to oscillate the rolling motion just keeps getting worse. When this starts to happen, sheet the spinnaker in hard or jibe the boat downwind - the Triton jibes downwind under spinnaker real easy. If you really need to go absolutely dead downwind and the spinnaker is causing the boat to oscillate, take down the chute and use your new spinnaker pole to go wing and wing. A Triton will not oscillate wing and wing.

#2 Never ever put a stop knot in the end of your spinnaker control lines ( guy and sheet - it's probably ok to keep one in the halyard - although I don't). You always need to have the option of letting the line run through the block to completely de-power the spinnaker. A stop knot will cause the spinnaker to re-fill way out in front of the boat and that is bad. The center of effort is now too far forward and the boat will broach to if there is too much wind. Remember - no stop knots equals no dangerous spinnaker problems.