Asymmetrical vs symmetrical spinnaker for Catalina 30

B dock

SF bay
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



Super Duper Anarchist
quivira regnum
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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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..).



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.


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.



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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European Bloke

Super Anarchist
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...



Super Anarchist
San Diego
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.

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.



Feigns Knowledge
Victoria, BC
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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