Seeing under the Gennaker

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Postby Guest » Fri Feb 14, 2003 9:20 am

I just got my J/80 last fall and only had the oportunity to race it a couple of times in the local PHRF series. I had never race with a gennaker previously and so I have some questions one of which I pose in this forum.

The second time around our first outing on a W/L course in 5 to 8 mph winds, I rounded the weather mark just behind the leading J/34(IOR)who I give a sec/mile. We immediatedly hoisted the gennaker and head up slightly to get to the weather of J/34. The J/34 was determined not to let us past them to weather.

My question/problem is that I could not see the J/34 under the gennaker at all. All I could is listen to the J/34s yelling at me to go up and the flapping of his sails. This pointed out to me that there is a serious blind spot going downwind with the gennaker up. My question is: how do the experienced J/80 races deal with this large blind spot? It would be nice to have a window in the sail for safety considerations. Any thoughts?
Terry Burke
TopNotch #405

Postby Guest » Fri Feb 14, 2003 10:28 am

In a luffing match with another boat it is nearly impossible to see under a chute (A-sail or not). We find most sailors sail the J-80 to high on the downwind legs. In your case you state 5-8 knots wind. At 5 it is hard to keep the boat pointed down and will have to sail a little higher angle. We sail the boat flat to just a small amount of weather heal at the higher angles. As the wind increases we heal the boat to weather and drive down. This will rotate the chute to weather as well as raise the clew (more visability)and the boom raises also. Sometimes we have to have someone hold the boom out while trying not to flatten out the boat. This is hard work for foredeck. The best way to judge how deep to go is to try to sail lower than your competitors with the same speed or feel you have made gains by staying lower. Always listen to your trimmer. He will know when the pressure is to light on the sheet and he should tell you so. You must communicate all the time. Your crew needs to keep you going in the right direction because you will be looking up and forward all the time. The crew is also responsible for helping with other boats on the course. Keep them involved. I noticed at Key West that when the fast guys got back in the pack they would jibe out at the weather mark on the first available lane so they could sail lower than the group ahead of them. They always made gains.


Postby Guest » Tue Feb 18, 2003 5:16 pm


Its been a little while since I sailed a J-80 so you might get better advice from some one who was out last weekend, but here is my thoughts on seeing around an Asym-spinn.

You are right that there is a difference between it and a sym-spin. in that the Asym is much lower and blocks your view. When I first sailed I-14's, I used windows in the sail. I am not sure if they still do but I dont think they do anymore. The problem with the windows is that they stretched differently than the sailcloth and often ended up as flat spots in the chute. After a few uses the sail would look great except where the window was.

Yesterday I was watching a Aussie 18 video and their Asyms did not have windows. I can't recall any spinnakers having windows now Melges, 49ers etc. It might be for the reason of puckering or also weight. the windows are heavier than the cloth.

Maybe a sailmaker could tell you more about the reasons for not having a window. They are possible but you probably give up more than most people are willing to. Plus it may not be class legal.

As far as the blindspot. It is sort of like a car and trusting your mirrors. But in this case it is trusting your crew. Depending on where the boat behind the spin is you can send a crew member to leeward or further forward to windward to be able to see the boat. That crewmember will be responsible for being your eyes and telling you what you need to do. "Come down five degrees" "Come up hard" etc. While the crewmember might have to be way out of position for a little while when there is a boat nearby in the blindspot, it beats carrying around a slow window in your chute all of the time. Plus when you think about how big that window would really need to be to completely eliminate a blind spot, a trusted crewmember becomes a much better option in my opinion.


Postby Guest » Sat Mar 29, 2003 8:30 am

Dear Terry,
Yes the blind spot is quite big and if you are in a luffing duell you need a crew lying on the teck to leeward telling you how much room you have.

Quite often it is better not be be in such a situation and going deep to the mark is faster. Luffing duells are exciting but more often they cost you time relative to other boats which are not engaged in the game.

At least if you are engaged in a luffing duell being an a-kite you will come out on top, you simply can hold the kite longer the the standard kites can, just stay you man, keep going up as much as he pushes you up and ENJOY the moment his kite collapses, I can guarantee you you will hold you kite longer then he can. The law of physics are on you site, as long as you can handle the heat and stay cool.

Is is worth it? Judge yourself, lots of action and excitment but going deep into clear air away from the mob where you can sail you race maybe faster. At least you have the confidence knowing that you always will kill a conventional kite if you are caught up in luffing situation. When they yell and the sail start to collapse you know they are finished. Just keep you cool, keep the distance and soon they will give up.



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