Our Spinnaker

A spinnaker is a type of sail that is used for sailing downwind on a reach or run (90-180 degrees off the bow).  
There are two types of spinnakers - asymmetrical and symmetrical.  Not to confuse those with limited sailing experience, lets just keep is simple.  Most cruising boats use an asymmetrical spinnaker.  This is due to the more versatile points of sail (see graphic) it can be used.  If you were a racing boat, you would almost certainly have both.  In our case, we have both - but in one sail!

Why do we even need a spinnaker?  Well, you don’t have to have one to sail a boat.  In fact, if we were not planning on doing a lot of down wind sailing, we probably would not even bother.  Given the potential for us to sail west, very far west in the trade winds, it is necessary to have a spinnaker to get better performance - especially in light winds.
Sail Selection
Knowing we wanted a spinnaker, we needed to figure out what type.  We decided on the Parasailor for a number of important reasons.  
First, the Parasailor due to its unique design and 'wing', allows you to sail from 70 - 180 degrees.  This gives us a LOT of flexibility, more than the traditional asymmetrical.

Second, we like the fact that it is easy for us to deploy (no poles), and given the aerodynamics of the sail and the unique wing, it will stay ‘set’ easier.  In fact, it is fairly common to use an autopilot with the spinnaker set.  Harder to do for long periods of time with other types of spinnakers.
Parasailor Spinnaker
Third, the built in safety valve of the wing.  In heavy gusts of winds, it actually reduces the load on the sail compared to a typical asymmetrical.  A small detail, but one that factored into our opinion.
Fourth, experienced sailors & circumnavigators like Jimmy Cornell are VERY high on this sail.  Sarah and I met Jimmy in Annapolis a couple of years ago, and it was a pleasure to talk to him about sailing...and for Sarah, his perspective on sailing with kids.
Finally, being the analytical type, I was not sold on just reading about the sail, and understanding the characteristics via videos...I went to Tampa and met the North American distributor to test sail in Tampa Bay.  Jerry Twomey was very accommodating and helpful in the process.
With the sail chosen, the last thing on the list was design.  Spinnakers are known for being very colorful...beautiful to see them deployed on boats.  So, Sarah being the artistic type, designed our sail.  All by herself...I had input...but it wasn’t really input - rather comments. :-)

Our Spinnaker Design by Sarah

So, that is a quick overview on spinnakers, what we purchased...and why.


  1. Hey Mark - I've been following your blog since you splashed and just found these really useful old posts today. Thanks so much for sharing the process from a techy point of view. I'm about 2-3 years behind the curve relative to you guys and also a research freak with apparently similar needs and tastes to you guys so finding this treasure trove of boat geekery has more than made my day :D

    It's maybe still a little early for you to say but was wondering if you've used the parasailor in anger yet and if so how's it shaping up against your expectations at different points of sail and compared with the Antares' impressive standard sailplan.
    Thanks -Paul


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