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Old 21-02-2010, 06:12   #1
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Parasailor Spinnaker from ISTEC

I'm about to spend around 5 English B.O.A.T. units (these are 50% larger than US B.O.A.T units ) on one of these all-singing, all-dancing parafoil Spinakers from ISTEC (

According to the literature, they sound great - no pole, no worries about gusts, a two year old could launch it single handed etc etc ....

I'm about to launch off for a years cruising in the East coast and Carib and my rationale for going this way rather than a conventional Spi is threefold :
a) I have a B&R rig which limits the amount you can swing the boom forward doe to the serioiusly swept back spreaders.

b) I'll be short handed, just me and the Admiral (who is happier piloting a desk than a boat).

c) Collectively we have very little experience of Spi flying.

There are a number of previous posts on this sail, but none that give any real world experience.

Anyone out there actually used / owned one of these ? I sure could spend the money on something else if this is a bad idea.

currently on the hard in RI

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Old 21-02-2010, 19:44   #2
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First time I have heard of the Istec. The parasail section looks cool but no idea if it would make the sail perform that much better that any other cruising spinnaker. For 5 UK BUs it should sing, dance and cook dinner. Is that just the sail or does that include fittings, etc?

I think you can get a "normal" cruising spinnaker for a whole lot less money. Unless you can hear from a real user I would be very reluctant to spring for that much.

Let us know if you hear any good reports.


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Old 22-02-2010, 02:18   #3
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I would love to have one, I have been looking into them as well - I was talking to Jimmy Cornell about them, hes been using one for years now and speaks very highly of them, and uses it quite a lot with only praise, I think there worth what they cost,
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Old 22-02-2010, 02:39   #4
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One year for East coast and Caribbean?? That's a long way and a short time - particularly if you plan to return during that year. You won't need a spinnaker in the Caribe, and if you want to make the Caribe (and return), you won't be spending much time on the East coast. I'd put the money to work elsewhere.


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Old 22-02-2010, 03:18   #5
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thats a lot of wonga... i understand the theory behind them however id be tempted to go with a cruising chute plus a sock - get a smaller one if you are too concerned about the handling. you wont need a pole with one of these either. for 5K sterling id be looking to install a bow sprit and then id put a furling unit with an A sail on it.
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Old 22-02-2010, 04:56   #6
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Thanks for the comments so far guys, I'm still trying to find anyone who's actually used one of these first hand.

Skipmac : It includes a snuffer and a custom bag, but nothing else. Fortunately I already have a Spi Halyard, but no pole.

Ram: I saw your previous posts a while back, but I see you've still not taken the plunge. Still if Jimmy Cornell says 'good', there must be something right about it.

Colemj : My plan is to make a late fall dash to the Carib and spend winter there. After that, work plans will dictate if I bring the boat back to Newport in the spring or leave it in the Carib. Final destination is New Zealand, which is partially the thought behind spending so much on a Spi at this stage.

wkd928 : Yep, it's a lot of boating tokens right enough. But with all the other jobs to do on the boat (watermaker, additional batteries, inner forestay etc etc.) I'm worrred I'll never get off the dock if I start fitting bowsprits and poles.

Anyone else got a view ?

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Old 22-02-2010, 05:45   #7
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Never have one.
On Sail Magazine July 2009 is an article comparing all 3 tipes of spinnakers.
s/v ITA
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Old 22-02-2010, 06:56   #8
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Perhaps it's worth reviewing what type of cruising sailor you are, and how often you will be sailing short-handed.

If you like to push the boat hard, and you sail with a crew then the Parasailor might be worth considering, but if you would tend to use the sail in lighter conditions only, or there's only the two of you, then just how much will you use any spinnaker?

With your Begrstrom rig which might be better broad reaching than running I'd have thought that an asymmetrical chute with a good sock, or better yet on a furler, would make more sense and cost far, far less. No pole and gybe downind. You'd also have the chance to get used to flying a relatively docile beast and find out just how much you're really going to use it, and in what conditions.

We looked at the Parasailor - great concept, and the possibility that one sail might cover a wide range of wind angles was very attractive. But the price was staggering, and we could have bought something like 4 conventional symmetric/asymmetric chutes for the same price. If it had been twice the price, then we just might have gone for it, but 4x? OK, it's a more complicated sail, but even so I can't see that level of price differential is justified just from looking at one. And I'm not entirely convinced I'd be happy using one without a pole withe wind well aft, but I may be wrong.

We bought a a good asymmetric chute mounted on a furler and it suits us very well. With only two of us and a boat about the same size as your own we use it far more than a symmetrical chute with a good quality snuffer on our old boat which was smaller. Cost was just over £2200 with a custom logo (Boat Show deal), and when we work out how much more we'll get out of changing it we'll likely go for something similar in a heavier cloth. I'd explore every avenue before spending huge sums of money.
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Old 22-02-2010, 07:31   #9
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Yes Money is what holds most of us back from buying one-
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Old 22-02-2010, 13:08   #10
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I do not buy the idea (and idea only) of the para-sailor - why lose the power by cutting a hole in the sail? From looking (only) at the para-sailor in action (ARC starts 2008 and 2009) they are not any more stable than a properly trimmed regular spinnaker.

So, if you know (or a willing to learn) how to sail under a spinnaker, use the real thing. If you do not know how to, use a gennaker, or twin jibs.

Look up Momo's result at ARC 2009 - they flew twin jibs ...

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Old 05-03-2010, 07:09   #11
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You and I already have a PM thread going on this. Whilst I applaud your faith in your product I'm not sure what the moderator on this thread will make of your post.

I suggest we keep the sell / buy relationship off this forum.

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Old 05-03-2010, 08:17   #12
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Originally Posted by Ita View Post
Never have one.
On Sail Magazine July 2009 is an article comparing all 3 tipes of spinnakers.
The article is available on line. Here's a link: Comparison between spinnakers: a-sail, s-sail, and parasail.

They say they like a cruising chute best of all for a cruising boat, out of the three options, as much more convenient to use than any other kind of kite, but that they would definitely have a Parasailor for a long offshore passage.
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Old 05-03-2010, 13:45   #13
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G'Day All,

Did anyone else note that in the comparison artical the parasail was WAY slower than either the a- or the s- kite? I thought that the reason one flew a kite while cruising was to get better boat speed... can't see why one would spend the big extra bucks to go slower.

They did note that they were flying the parasail without the mains'l. Maybe that's why it's slower, but if so, why in the world would they deliberately cripple the sail in a compariosn test?

Finally, they didn't really say why they would want a p-sail for an offshore cruise. One of the alleged advantages of the sail is easier gybing, but at sea one usually stays on a given gybe for longer periods than when inshore, so again, I don't understand where they are coming from.

Must admit that the one in the artical is cool looking, but that's not enough to tempt me to spend that much money!


Jim and Ann s/v Insatiable II lying Church Point, NSW, Oz
Jim and Ann s/v Insatiable II , lying Pittwater, NSW fora while.
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Old 01-04-2010, 00:43   #14
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After reading through the test in the Sail magazine, I think its results can be summarized as follows:
-the main reason why parasailor is recommended for long off-shore passages that it requires the least attention of all kites
-parasailor adds up speed on a run, however, it does that clearly less than spinnaker or asymmetrical
-if you want the maximum speed and also the ability to go dead downwind, go for a conventional spinnaker unless you are sailing shorthanded
-if you are sailing shorthanded, go for asymmetrical or parasailor
-if you are shorthanded, not racing, and want to sail dead downwind, go for parasailor
-if you are shorthanded, want speed, and 160 degrees off wind is enough, go for asymmetrical

I have never sailed with a one, however, being a shorthanded off-shore sailor commonly sailing dead down wind, parasailor sure sounds like an interesting option. Is it worth its price? That is another question the answer for which needs to be judged individually. For far too many of us the answers is likely "no". For the more privileged ones, the answer is more likely "yes". If I would have a lump sum of extra cash, I would sure give it a try.
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Old 01-04-2010, 01:51   #15
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Hmmm this is an interesting one.
I saw a photo somewhere of this type of chute and wondered.

Here's my thoughts:

I am from a racing background so love chutes etc

When we were in the Caribbean I was surprised at the strength of the wind. I doubt I want/need on up in that strength wind. A 3 once storm kite would be OK.

ITCZ (Doldrums) too fickle for kites unles on a furler. no time to douse them easily shorthanded

We like the one person on watch being able to do pretty well everything otherwise I am up half the night!

Pacific Trade Winds: I had always read of people putting up a spinnaker leaving port and pulling it down 3 weeks later entering a port. BULL TWADDLE! I reckon you'd be working harder than a one armed wallpaper hanger.

After a while boat speed isnt as important as ease of use. Genoas get used more often than mains because Genoas are on a furler, mains not and they only take a few moments to put up!

We did the Pacific without a spinnaker pole cos we couldn't afford one (read in reference to members here who think I am a millonaire). Getting the pole did wonders for us! But still much more 'work' outside steady tradewinds, up and down like a yo-yo.

Broad Reaching V's Dead downwind. Some day I will do a good comparison, but unless its a catamaran or a modern racing boat then I think rhumb line is by far the better option. Gybing multiple times? may as well the going upwind.

I am not full bottle on all this as we don't have the money to play here, but I would think the good options would be a furling asymetric spinnaker (or socked) with pole for going deep downwind and a BIG genoa thats also poled out when too strong/fickle for the asymetric.

Passages we find totally fun and full of enjoyment because of a few factors:
Good unique watch system allows us LONG sleeps
Minimal 'work' on passage incl easy sail handling
Great food

Sailing 300 miles to go 200 miles.
Breaking gear by pushing it too hard.
being tired -> grumpy -> angry -> arguments -> no enjoyment -> no more long passeges.

Things that don't matter didly squat:
5.32725kts compared to 5 kts.
Getting there on Day 5 compared with day 7

If you enjoy the sailing I don't think many folks would need all the fancy kit. On the other hand, if you love racing you might love a slick spinnaker to play with all watch... but doon't expect your partner to be the same. Therefore pull it down at the end of your watch or risk having it ripped while wifey is reading Days of our Lives, Mills&Boone and lusting after leonado De Caprio in some star magazine.


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