A confession: I have a love-hate relationship with my symmetrical spinnakers. They provide huge amounts of power and can really make a difference in speed, but they are intrinsically unstable and in strong winds take lots of concentration and skill to keep under control. On fast boats that surf they are easier to control, but on a lead-mine like mine as we try for that last 1/2 kt (our hull-speed is about 8 kts and we can push it to over 13 with a big kite), with the slightest provocation the sail wants to go out of control and pull us over sideways. This has happened multiple times, and I've snapped the spin pole twice in this manner as we round-down and crash.
In light air, and at reasonable speeds, it's easy to control and a lot of fun. In close-to-zero wind
conditions a light spinnaker is your best bet, but it is constantly trying to wrap around the forestay or tangle in the rigging
. I carry a spinnaker net to prevent this, but don't always put it up when I should.
Asymmetrical spinnakers are better-behaved, but don't work as well for deep-downwind sailing. I actually spend a lot of time wing-and-wing (genoa poled out to one side, and the main held out to the other), and this is a nice, controllable configuration. I also occasionally hoist a second genoa
and pole out both sails
(photos of this are on my website). This is a really stable downwind configuration and has about the same power as a symmetrical spinnaker.