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Asymmetrical vs symmetrical spinnaker for Catalina 30


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I want to join in on some non competitive races this coming spring/summer and I need a downwind sail. I've raced with both types of spinnakers and found the asymmetrical easier to deal with as there is no pole flying around. I do realize they are meant to fly from different angles to the wind. I won't be getting both for now and I'm leaning towards a asymmetrical as it was a lot of fun on the last boat I raced.

What do people like in each type over the other? 

 

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14 minutes ago, Livia said:

The boat does not go fast enough to get real benefit from an A sail.

So just the convenience.

 

Yea she is a fatty. Would Symmetrical be quicker then?

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If your races do not typically have a dead-downwind leg, you'll like the assym.  But if they do, you won't like it, your spinny will get blanketed by the main, and trying to wing it out is kind of difficult to maintain, it's a narrow sweet spot.  Triangle course is ideal, you have two broad reaches.

Good part is, you mostly don't need a foredeck crew.  The good ones tend to not like noncompetitive races (look around on SA, they're prima donnae, and irreverent ;-), and the bad ones are just a distraction, you're telling them what to do instead of steering and having situational awareness of the rest of the world around you.

And if you get caught in a squall with kite up, the assym is less of a wild animal than the sym.

 

Livia has good wisdom, it's fun racing, use the assym, easy to handle and especially easier to jibe.  Plus less hardware on your boat.

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There may be a time allowance in your local racing rules for declaring you will use only an asymmetric spinnaker.   Combined with the ease of use and reduced hardware mentioned by others, it is a great way to get out racing without requiring extra crew, cost, and equipment.

We had a 1984 Catalina 30 for many years with only an A-kite (cruising, not racing).   Keep an eye on halyard chafe....our problem may have been the furling unit we had,  and it has been 18 years since we sold the boat, but I never could sort out exactly what the problem was.  Many thousands of Catalina 30s out there flying kites, with  a lot of different furler configurations, so chances are you will be just fine.  

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Asym all the way.  Yes a symmetrical spinnaker is faster for your boat but the sail you will actually use will always be faster than the one you don't.  The sail you jibe when you need to is going to be faster.  The only problem you might run into is getting punished by PHRF for using any sort of sprit.  The hit you take might make it impossible to be competitive.  For your boat, I would probably get a deep running Asym made.  If you put it on an adjustible tack you will be surprised how deep you can sail it. 

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22 minutes ago, Neutral President said:

  If you put it on an adjustible tack you will be surprised how deep you can sail it. 

Yea I was going to do this. We had a bow sprit and an adjustable tack on the last boat I was racing with. Was a ton of fun trimming it and seeing how greedy we could get. 

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 12/1/2021 at 6:06 PM, retroSail said:

Katy-Perry-Tight-Green-Dress-Boobs-650x973.thumb.jpeg.b4bdd35f9838475cfbdcd529a2d47dce.jpeg

hero.

it seems to me that a symmetrical not necessarily faster, it's just better vmg on a windward/leeward course. the idea of a movable tack seems worth investigating. of course, that's just what a spinnaker pole is too.

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The only advantage a symmetrical has over an asymmetrical is in big wind when the downwind course is aligned with the wind. In the past 10 years I can think of only one race where that happened. In all other cases everyone is reaching and the asym is a better reaching sail than a sym. 

 
Another advantage of an asym is fewer crew and crew are hard to find especially for a non competitive boat.
 
The type of asym is important. Since you are racing non competitively you probably don't want an spi inventory. Therefore an all purpose asym. It will be limited on how high and how deep you can carry it. Ideally you would have an A1 for close reaching and an A2 for running but an AP will get the job done. The most important thing is that it be able to rotate to windward. Talk to your sail maker about design.
 
You do not need a bow sprit. My previous boat was a masthead sloop similar to a Catalina. The asym was tacked to the anchor chock. I always did inside jibes and never had a problem getting the spi around the head stay. At least give it a try before you invest in a sprit. By the way, ECSA PHRF has outlawed articulating sprits altogether.
 
The photo is of my previous boat. I was on board with the sail maker checking out my new AP. You can tell from the position of the main the we were close to dead down. Not how far to windward the spi is rotated. I bought a symmetrical at the same time: other then the check sail never took it out oft the bag.
 

Cielavie3.jpg

cestlavie2.jpg

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Notice in the downwind picture how much tack line is out.  If want to use a furling system, this will limit your ability to ease the tack line for windward rotation limiting deep downwind angles, this is where a sprit helps.  Some systems do allow an adjustable tack (seldon?) but I have not used those and they may have limited flexibility.

You will fly an asymmetrical more often = more smiles

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1 hour ago, sailorman44 said:

The only advantage a symmetrical has over an asymmetrical is in big wind when the downwind course is aligned with the wind. In the past 10 years I can think of only one race where that happened. In all other cases everyone is reaching and the asym is a better reaching sail than a sym. 

 
Another advantage of an asym is fewer crew and crew are hard to find especially for a non competitive boat.
 
The type of asym is important. Since you are racing non competitively you probably don't want an spi inventory. Therefore an all purpose asym. It will be limited on how high and how deep you can carry it. Ideally you would have an A1 for close reaching and an A2 for running but an AP will get the job done. The most important thing is that it be able to rotate to windward. Talk to your sail maker about design.
 
You do not need a bow sprit. My previous boat was a masthead sloop similar to a Catalina. The asym was tacked to the anchor chock. I always did inside jibes and never had a problem getting the spi around the head stay. At least give it a try before you invest in a sprit. By the way, ECSA PHRF has outlawed articulating sprits altogether.
 
The photo is of my previous boat. I was on board with the sail maker checking out my new AP. You can tell from the position of the main the we were close to dead down. Not how far to windward the spi is rotated. I bought a symmetrical at the same time: other then the check sail never took it out oft the bag.
 

Cielavie3.jpg

cestlavie2.jpg

What kind of tackle do you have on the tack? I inherited some sort of first generation A1 (it actually has a single hank at top and bottom for clipping onto the forestay) - but what I really want to use it deep. For some reason I hadn't realized that adjusting the tack could be a thing - and to confuse matters a bit more - it looks like this gear is properly called an "adjustable downhaul"? (not to be confused with spinnaker pole management..).

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You can use an adjustable tack line with a top down fuller. On my current boat I have a Colligo  fuller. The non rotating tack attachment has two holes. The tack is attached to one. After the spinnaker, is flying lead the tack line thru the other hole to the tack then tension the tack line and remove the strop.. When it is time to douse the spinnaker reverse the process. Good luck using a top down fuller, you will need it.

 
If I was considering a new asym I would only consider those with a structured luff, a cabelless spinnaker. Avoids all the problems with the torsion cable.
 
The previous boat had an anchor roller chock on the bow. It stuck out 2-3 inches and had a retaining pin. I attached a block to the pin hole and led the tack line back to a cabin top winch. Easly adjusted from the cockpit.
 
Spinnaker design is important and you need a sailmaker who knows what he is about. That particular particular spinnaker was a winner. There were 20  panels in the head and I could fly 10 of them windward of the centerline. It was also good at reaching and I could carry it to 70 apparent, maybe a touch higher in light air.
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  • 5 weeks later...
On 12/10/2021 at 7:23 PM, some dude said:

What is a non competitive race?  Is that just going sailing?

 

Yea Div 3 and mainly for cruising. 

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I no longer race with a spinnaker. When I did, I found that we could go amazingly deep with the asymmetric with less of the drama of the symmetric (I'm sure I am the lead actor in that drama btw). I taught my trimmers to bring that sail around the forestay to go deep. It is amazing how much easing it takes (I told them ten eases per trim).

I do like to play with the asail once in a while when not racing. I just un-sock it and off we go. My symmetrical resides in my loft. Maybe I will sell it one of these days.

I remember a Bayview-Mac where we flew the asymmetric in "wild thing" mode (think wing-on-wing) down the home stretch to the island. I'm not sure it was a "whomper" run but we had lots of fun comments at the party.

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If you do the yards and learn how to handle a sym its probably the better all round sail. It can go flat, do angles and reach. An asym on that boat would come into its own in light reaching, but youll need a sprit and area.

Youll dig a trench anyway by the looks so why go for a planing sail and all the cost of the articulating prod setup on a 4ksb?

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I think the a sail required more constant attention when you want to get deep. At that point the equation in it's favour is not so obvious.

I'd always want a pole so I can use it for the headsail when it's really blowing anyway. So at that point get both...

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On 12/15/2021 at 8:42 AM, sailorman44 said:

The asym was tacked to the anchor chock.

Beware.  Anchor chocks are not designed for an upward pull.  Crewed on a boat on their first race with their asymm and the sailmaker aboard.  It was a windy day with rough seas and the tackline pulled the anchor chock out of the deck a few inches.

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A kites are easy and can be done single handed with a sock. S kites can also be done but more involved in trim, etc. A kites are just like a big jib with three attachment points.

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On 1/22/2022 at 4:52 PM, Benytoe said:

A kites are easy and can be done single handed with a sock. S kites can also be done but more involved in trim, etc. A kites are just like a big jib with three attachment points.

I’m a huge fan of A kites.

Socks are great when they work, but horrible when they don’t, which I’ve found can happen with disconcerting frequency on masthead boats like the Catalina 30. 

On masthead boats I’ve found that the sock and/or takedown lines can get caught on the top of the head stay foil or the furler swivel, which can prevent you from getting the kite down, either with the sock, or conventionally by releasing the halyard.  For me there are few things scarier on a sailboat than being unable to douse the kite!

To prevent this I t helps to get a good spinnaker crane to ensure the halyard is well out in front of the forestay, and to tape up any edges on the top of the foil or the furler swivel. 

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