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Asymmetrical spinnaker retrieval line pros & cons


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J/88 with a pretty big A2 and principally racing W/L short courses. We have a group of guys sailing the boat but everyone has lives and we are unable to have a regular foredeck person so douses in particular can be slower than we would like. I have friends who successfully use a retrieval line running from the middle of the kite down through the foredeck hatch then back inside the boat to a block near the stern of the cabin so they can haul on that line to douse. 

What are the reasons this kind of system is not in more common use? I see the TP-52's use them and am wondering why I shouldn't or should,

Dan 

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They are all about timing. If you don't have time on the water to perfect a simple leward, windward and or mexican, I wouldn't recommend using a retrieval system.  One sheet or halyard blow mistime and you will rip the center out of your kite.

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What kind of path exists below deck on a J/88? Can you run a line from the hatch to the stern and have it be straight?

Edit: Just watched a J/88 video and there looks like a clear path along the starboard side.
Look at the videos for that NYYC boat.

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Hey Everybody, thanks for taking the time to respond. 

We can drop the kite effectively but it does vary depending on who is doing for foredeck job and we are a bunch of older guys none of whom is anxious to stand up on the bow and struggle when things go wrong. In particular we struggle when someone is away and we switch up the jobs.

I have considered a tack line drop and we do have the correct type shackle for the job but it looks to me like we would then have to re-arrange the kite below where pulling the sail down from the middle means she will go right back up. Have I got this wrong? With our current system someone just has to run one tape between douse and launch and in our case where this is not standing headroom, sorting a sail in bigger waves is not fun! 

 

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it takes about 30 seconds to get things set up for another hoist after a tackline drop. I do them solo on my C30-2 which has a bigger kite than yours. and honestly, if you reverse the order of the douse then you don't have to unfuck much at all.

I've taken the belly lines off my chutes - they were just getting in the way and we can always find a more effective way to bring them down.

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we use a string drop all the time on a 30 footer. It's all timing and having the room below. Was a little unnerving the first few times but now it's routine. Also did the tack line take down many moons ago on the 105, worked well if the squirrel sorted the tack line properly after take down (as stated by others)

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On 11/21/2021 at 6:45 AM, danstanford said:

J/88 with a pretty big A2 and principally racing W/L short courses. We have a group of guys sailing the boat but everyone has lives and we are unable to have a regular foredeck person so douses in particular can be slower than we would like. I have friends who successfully use a retrieval line running from the middle of the kite down through the foredeck hatch then back inside the boat to a block near the stern of the cabin so they can haul on that line to douse. 

What are the reasons this kind of system is not in more common use? I see the TP-52's use them and am wondering why I shouldn't or should,

Dan 

For what it's worth, I want to put a string drop on an International 110. My reasoning is that my crew may be one of my younger sons for a while so having something very fast that I can do as a skipper would make it easier to sail with less experienced crew.

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I’ve spent lots of time racing an 88 and have wondered the same thing. I’ve spent some more time recently racing a Cape 31 that uses a string drop system too and I don’t think it would be a problem on a J88 however… Don’t expect a 3 second drop like you see on a TP.
 

The block wants to go on the forward face of the cockpit structure that makes up the back of the cockpit seat, the line goes through there and then should to a block tied around the mast compression post. Alternatively you can lead the line out the side of the cockpit but some people get funny about the thought of “drilling holes in the boat”. Use as much Teflon tape where the spinnaker will pass through the boat and it wouldn’t hurt to get a can of Harken Sailkote and have a go with that too. I would suggest 2 drop patches on the kite, one at 1/3 up the sail from the foot and the other at 2/3. The first patch is just an eyelet in the sail where the retrieval line passes through and the top patch is a where the drop line will terminate. Split the retrieval line so you have an end that stays in the boat and an end that lives on the sail. That way you can connect and disconnect the sail and line without having to un reeve the whole system. Lastly make sure you have rollers on the top guardwires to allow the sail to pass over cleanly without snagging a stanchion. This can be made using PVC pipe or carbon tube (these also have the benefit of letting the jib skirt itself).

The way we time the manoeuvre on the C31 is on a count down system. On “3” the person on the drop line starts pulling hard, on “2” the tack and sheet are blown and on 1 the halyard is blown. The system still needs tweaking and doesn't always work the same for leeward drops, windward drops or gybe drops but it gets us by at the moment

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Many dinghies do it because it is faster and anytime the spinnaker is in transition the boat is either slow, at risk of tipping over, or both.  Speeding up the process makes for a better experience.  And you are correct about the spin going up correctly after a drop, thus it is always a good idea to hoist briefly before a race to make sure it is rigged properly.

I like @JL92S's post and if you watch a video of the Cape 31's doing this you quickly understand the value.

Rollers below decks will help keep the spinnaker from snagging during the drop.  I have seen someone put in an over sized, partial mesh sock (which gets a teflon dip every so often) from the hatch, so that it comes down without snagging but does not stop in a sock which makes it harder to change out in the middle of a race.

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I love the system on the Viper 640. The retrieval line is actually just the other end of the spinnaker halyard. it is attached at one point on the sail, and then goes through a grommet in the sail, or sometimes a strop, and then into the mouth of the sock at the bow. going through the sale means that the line exits under the spinnaker, and helps keep it out of the water on starboard, or bring it around the forestay on port. With the two points, it gathers the sail into itself, and fits better in the boat. I don't know if that two point setup could be applied to larger boats or not.

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1 hour ago, Streetwise said:

I love the system on the Viper 640. The retrieval line is actually just the other end of the spinnaker halyard. it is attached at one point on the sail, and then goes through a grommet in the sail, or sometimes a strop, and then into the mouth of the sock at the bow. going through the sale means that the line exits under the spinnaker, and helps keep it out of the water on starboard, or bring it around the forestay on port. With the two points, it gathers the sail into itself, and fits better in the boat. I don't know if that two point setup could be applied to larger boats or not.

Which is fine on a dinghy, but there are times on yacht when you need the halyard gone and it won't be if you've threaded it through the boat and tied the other end to the middle of the sail. Then you'll have plenty of time to discuss just how fucked you are.

Most small boats don't use a downhaul line because unless you have a full on TP52 set up is slower than a competent crew pulling the kite down and adds scope for tangles and fuck ups.

Keep in mind that if you don't have a real bowman then anything making the clip on harder is likely to result in a cluster fuck.

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13 hours ago, WCB said:

For what it's worth, I want to put a string drop on an International 110. My reasoning is that my crew may be one of my younger sons for a while so having something very fast that I can do as a skipper would make it easier to sail with less experienced crew.

I had a 110. Number 164 and it had a retrieval system. And also a hatch to open and close.

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When the 88s came out I think some of the sailmakers offered string drop kits that included the roller and the required lines. You might contact Q or N to see what they have left.  

My experience with string drops is that they work 9 times out of 10 unless you have pro-level crew on board. And that 10th time can be a disaster since you may end up with a kite halfway raised that cannot be pulled up or down (due to a link kink somewhere in the system). Have a good knife handy. Keep in mind: 

1. It will take time to get the system optimized (in terms of crew timing, hardware placement, and line length.) Get a pro or someone with experience with string drops to help set it up and test it. 

2. Get a lot of millionaire's tape and make sure there are no places to snag the kite above and below. The kite will be only partially controlled when it is coming down and you do not want it to get caught on anything. In six years of string drops we never ripped a kite because we were religious about taping and making sure there was a clear pathway for the kite down below. 

3. Be very process focused, from how you rig the kite, how you take it down, even how you clean up (put a sail tie on the takedown patch so it is easy to find). String drop take downs are not a time for improvisation - create and use the same process over and over. 

Ultimately, for the 88, my advice would be to find someone young that can do the bow and get really good at tack line take downs. 

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If a string drop is slower than crew manually pulling it in, the configuration of the drop system is wrong or the order of actions taken to pull down the spinnaker is wrong.  I've never seen a drop line with a practiced crew be anything but fast.

The issues being pointing out about threading the belly button retrieval line correctly is something you must prove before the start of the first race.  A quick hoist then drop, don't even bother trimming as long as you can see that everything is fine.

As @Streetwise is pointing out, no modern sportboat is well sorted out unless it includes a drop line.  The speed difference is incredible.  If I can manually get a J/70 spinnaker down in less than 7 seconds, on the Viper640 I can do it in 3.

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If a string drop system is so wrong, why does the very top of our sport use them?

Watch any of those TP 52 and/or IC37 videos and you'll see how well they work. While the 52s have their systems connected to their pedestal grinders with overdrive gearing, the IC37 system is 1:1 and works well enough. 

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1 hour ago, RATM said:

If a string drop system is so wrong, why does the very top of our sport use them?

Watch any of those TP 52 and/or IC37 videos and you'll see how well they work. While the 52s have their systems connected to their pedestal grinders with overdrive gearing, the IC37 system is 1:1 and works well enough. 

Well, 52’s are all fully pro.

IC 37 has the best amateurs money can buy.

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When we moved to a launcher in the E scow class the the pace of the leeward mark changed noticeably.  A well practiced crew can hold the chute until the last possible second while the boats that doused by hand needed to drop early to give the crew time to collect and stuff the kite.  Its really impressive when you have a crew that gets the timing down as the boat can stay on a plane into the turn upwind.    It requires big pulls on the douse line but if the driver executes a quick turn down its almost effortless to pull it down.  However if the chute stays full on the release its a fight like no other.   Getting that chute in the water or capsizing is much more complicated with that douse line though.  There is the occasional asshole that jams up the works too.

Sailing smaller dingys the launcher makes it a lot easier to introduce people to the kite.  We leave them rigged in the sock for the season.   I've seen opti/laser kids with no spin experience manage to set and douse on the 1st sail with no coaching beyond a demo on shore.  That's neat.

Sailing on M24's and J70's I'm amazed at how long it takes to douse by hand.  I understand that we want to be able to change chutes, keep the crew busy etc. etc..  The pace of the douse is just so much slower than what I'm used to.  I always think were dropping too early and hate how the chute is packed for the next set if were rushed.  

It is fun to rig something from scratch.  We played with rollers, socks blocks and take up lines as the E fleet was figuring out what works. Nothing felt better than sailing around your friends who were still doing it the old way.  Today most E's have a launcher as its just better.  Its standard on the new boats too.

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17 hours ago, RATM said:

If a string drop system is so wrong, why does the very top of our sport use them?

Watch any of those TP 52 and/or IC37 videos and you'll see how well they work. While the 52s have their systems connected to their pedestal grinders with overdrive gearing, the IC37 system is 1:1 and works well enough. 

These boats with the spin launch and retrieve systems are usually racing one design which means they would be running one type of kite, maybe 2 at most. Try implementing a quiver of different kites into the system and it gets a bit complicated. In my skiff class we are only allowed one kite during racing, so the system works for us.

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3 hours ago, Irrational 14 said:

These boats with the spin launch and retrieve systems are usually racing one design which means they would be running one type of kite, maybe 2 at most. Try implementing a quiver of different kites into the system and it gets a bit complicated. In my skiff class we are only allowed one kite during racing, so the system works for us.

I've done the changes, it's just a matter of packing the kite to make it ready.  There should always be a belly button line on the kite so it comes out to the bag ready to be attached to the retrieval line and like the corners they are all run properly and attached to points of the bag so there are no mistakes.  Honestly this is all a lot easier than setting a double sheet, double guy symmetrical, or an asym on a spinnaker pole aka Mumm30 A0(.5? what ever it was, pita...)

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On 11/21/2021 at 6:15 PM, solosailor said:

It's a small boat.....   I can't see needing a string drop system.  Why is your foredeck slowing down your drop?    

This. Just plan ahead and drop the kite a little earlier if necessary. Get the crew to practice a standard windward drop and organise your mark approach to drop from port gybe (thus kite ready for next hoist assuming standard w/l courses)

 

Honestly more lines (eg drop line) is just going to lead to more fuck ups including on the hoist and more confusion on port vs starboard approaches to leeward mark

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Regarding the Viper 640 system, it is cool that the setup is optimized for starboard gybe, switching to port tack with an inside takedown. However, the way the retrieval line is rigged, it also helps drag the spinnaker around the forestay on a port gybe takedown. We use the jib as an essential tool downwind, and in mark-roundings. This is beyond the topic, but once we learned how to backwind the jib downwind, we never broached again.

I can understand why larger sailboats drop the jib downwind, but on smaller, fractional-rig, asymmetrical-rigged boats, with long enough sprits, the jib helps move the spinnaker on gybes, and provides some extra power and control.

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