Asymmetrical vs symmetrical spinnaker for Catalina 30


Victoria B.C
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? 



Super Anarchist
New Orleans
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.

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.  


Neutral President

New member
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. 


Leeroy Jenkins

Super Anarchist
For me non competitive racing means having boats behind me when I cross the finish line.  Fuck the ratings.  I'm faster than that that guy.... and them.... and those guys too.  



Super Anarchist
There are 2 competitive ones here - both use the asym and have short fixed sprits.



Victoria B.C



SF Bay
I'm a symmetrical man, myself.  Lot's of pesky J-105's running around where I sail and the one advantage I can have over them is that I can run directly downwind where they can't.   



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.



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