The pain and gain of a Spinnaker

Wednesday 4 September 2013
CATEGORY: Expedition

Its only the second race day of the race, but already we had to experience
the pains and the gains a spinnaker sail. The spinnaker- the largest sail
we have on board – is used as a thin downwind sail. It flies at the front
like a kite. Imagine a giant triangular shaped bag, which you bind to the
boat and then blow in. As it catches the wind from the back it creates
great forward speed. A wonderful sail!
However on two occasions in the last 48 hours the spinnaker also showed us
its painful side.
First, about an hour into the race, the sail rolled into itself on a jibe
(a turn of the boat where you cross the wind at the back), forimg an hour-
glass shape. This created a twist that we despite desperate measures
couldn’t unroll (the wind was pulling two strongly into the upper and lower
airpocket). The necessary drop and change of headsail resulted in us
loosing a few miles and dropping quite a few places in the race.
Another time, we were just engaged in a very tight battle for position with
Mission Performance, when the forward tack line blew (thats the line that
holds the bottom of the spinnaker sail to the boat), uncontrollable
releasing the sail. Again we were forced into a speedy drop of the sail
and a hoist of an alternative one – in all we have three spinnakers on
boat. Needless to say, the precious minutes without headsail, meant that
PSP could pass us unchallenged.
However despite these early setbacks, morale is very high on the boat –
excellent sail trimming and a bit of luck with the wind meant, that we are
still in the middle of the bulk of boats, battling it out for the
positions, most of them still undecided. Until now we have encountered
sunshine all along, however the high pressure weather also meant that there
are only low winds. In flat sea even Captain Sparrow could be seen climbing
our running backstay.
We have now left the english coast and as I write this are steering
towards Normandy, hoping to reach Brest soon.
In our skippers words, the motto for the next few days is “Trim, trim,

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