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Spinnaker hoist: the fast mode

A spinnaker hoist at a top mark is in most cases a maneuver associated with anxiety. Mainly because many crew know how disastrous a mistake with this flying sail can end. Some of them still have nightmares with images of the last colors from the kite disappearing in the blue water.... and wake up sweating...

However most top mark rounding when kites can be hoisted are crowded with boats and with small distances between boats, many places can be won or lost there, and what easier way to win places is there than having more speed. And what easier way to get more speed is to set your spinnaker earlier and quicker.

Apart from the apparent wind angle and the boat's heel to leeward (which should be to windward!!!). When bearing away, and hoisting the spinnaker, there are only two things important to safety. These are
a. getting it in the top of the mast fast (so keep it for the first 3/4 of the hoist in the wind shadow of the head or main sail!), and 
b. getting it fast forward at the outboard end of the flying spinnaker pole 
in front of the boat close to the forestay (not against!). 
Whatever happens from there is less important because the worse thing that could happen is a lot of noise of a flaking sail.... And why would it make us faster when we complain that the water is wet? 

In order to make a quick hoist we need to think about timing and apparent wind angle while hoisting and bearing away... (thus changing the apparent wind angle). A very dynamic and complex issue that can be simplified when those involved with the pace of hoisting and trimming the guy know where to go for. A good helmsman will simply follow the pace of the crew, when the crew works it's way through the maneuver and keeps an eye at the tactical 

First we look upon the behavior of the luff while hoisting the kite. In order to have the kite filled quickly we need to "scoop the free flow". With "scoop" I mean to have the luff being extended to the full from being in a bag or hatch from the bottom/back of the head sail and being pulled forward in front of the forestay so that the almost undisturbed wind flow can start attaching to the spinnaker. This basically all comes down to timing and speed on the spinnaker halyard and the guy. 

Normally we sneak the luff tack from underneath the jib till about 1meter behind the forestay and as soon as the mast man shouts "3/4 !" the guy is pulled to have tack at the flying spi pole end and squared away from the forestay about a meter (depending on the app. windangle and speed) while the last meters to the top are also being hoisted. 

Secondly the behavior of the leech of the kite. Here we need to realize that a stalled foil gives a lot less lift than a foil that has an attached flow. 
So even if a kite flies but it's trimmed in too much, we're still not going anywhere...... Most sheet trimmers will sheet in while hoisting. Probably to prevent flaking or something, but while doing so they: 
1. Will prevent the kite from going forward towards the free wind flow, which will end up with a delayed filling of the kite and 
2.. Will probably end up with a stalled kite in which, it will at least take another 5-10 seconds before the flow will actually attach and the boat will start to accelerate.

Flow will attach quicker to a foil which is being trimmed in, rather than 
one which was stalled and being eased. So the sheet trimmer needs: <Br> have a good position to observe the behavior of the luff, as soon as it appears behind the fore stay and 
2. has to know where the leech is while hoisting.

I normally have a chat with the bowman before we go out, to have him put the leech tack directly out of the hatch preparing the hoist, and from there I decide to ease, to wait or to pull, after the luff appears .....

As with almost everything which is worth while comes with a price. For this you'll need to practice this bearaway set about two thousand times to get a success rate of about 6 out of 10. And with this knowledge hopefully less........

It goes without saying that these principles of scooping and trimming while hoisting goes for every type of class, whether it's a Tornado genaker set or and IMX 40 symmetrical kite. But instead of the guy we call it a tackline and instead of 5 people we're talking about 2 people involved.... The sails, waves and wind obey the same rules...

Good winds ! 


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