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Old 16-10-2009, 12:04   #1
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Asymmetrical / Screecher / Spinnaker - Oh My! - Which One for a Cat?

Thanks to fantastic encouragement and information from this forum, we hope to close on new to us catamaran (FP 38) with another member of this forum next week! I guess at that point I will have to change our handle from "Catsoon" to "Catnow!"

As we're thinking about, and investigating, downwind sails- we can't seem to figure out what the right approach is. We've seen blocks on the front of each hull on FPs (I guess for a traditional spinnaker? or maybe a windward lead for an asymetric), and we've also seen some bowsprits installed, to lead the sail farther forward, but centerline.

We can only afford one sail for the immediate future. What kind of sail should we get (most versatile & useful) and what sort of deck hardware/bowsprit arrangement work best? Asymetric? Gennaker/Screecher? Traditional Spinnaker?

Thanks in advance for your opinions! You have been great so far!
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Old 16-10-2009, 14:23   #2
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Congrats on the new boat!

I'm going to have a reacher/screecher made, which should be good for sailing from close reaches to broad reaches, and with the ability to move the prodder sideways, should also work OK running.

For DDW sailing I'll probably keep an eye open for a second hand symmetrical spinnaker, which can often be found in good nick quite cheap.
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Old 16-10-2009, 15:53   #3
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if budget is tight, go with whatever you can find that "fits" the boat.

if you have a choice... i'd go with an assym. that way, you can run it off the centerline and sail fast, or tack it to the windward hull and sail deep
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Old 16-10-2009, 16:02   #4
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It also depends on what you have for a jib.

If you have a mast-head 134-150% genoa, a screacher wont' help much unless you are off the wind a good bit, and so an asymmetrical chute would be better. That is the case for my boat.

My last boat had both. I used the screacher when there was a bit to much wind for the chute. But because I had a big jib, I didn't use the screacher much.

It also depends on your shroud arraignment. If you have "cat" style shrouds and no backstay, you can't ease the main very far and sailing deeper than ~ 100 degrees apparent wind means stalling. A symetrical chute won't work for you. Also, an articulating sprit is pointless, since there is not value in bringing the tack to windward.

A screacher can be sailed fairlry high IN VERY LIGHT WINDS wit he tack eased to leeward. However, it means a lot of leeway and you are nearly as well off with the genoa, if you have one.

Thus, the asymmetric chute is more powerful, if a bit more of a hassle to set. Get the chute if you have a big jib, get the screacher, if you have a small jib. Better, get a big jib and a chute. IMHO.

My blog has photo of both boats with a chute up. It is worth noting that on BOTH boats I learned to leave the tack centered, even though I did have the ability to move it. It simply worked best in the middle.

Either one would be good. Enjoy!
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Old 17-10-2009, 01:12   #5
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Go for the asymmetric and the blocks on the bows!

cheers,
Nick.
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Old 17-10-2009, 08:19   #6
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Nice thing about the screecher is you can keep it on a furler. A good inventory for cruising seems to be a 120% genoa with a foam luff on a good furler, a screecher on a furler and an asym. spinnaker in a bag. With your cat the apparent wind will always be too far forward for a symetrical spinnaker, hopefully. Dave
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Old 17-10-2009, 08:43   #7
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Oh, I would recommend to put that asymmetric in a sock (ATN brand) instead of a bag. It will probably make the difference between being used regularly and not often if at all.

ciao!
Nick.
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Old 17-10-2009, 09:11   #8
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i guess all of this depends a bit on the boat, but i see the list differently...

most important jib is NON-OVERLAPPING, so that you point and easily tack upwind when necessary.

second most important sail is assym spinnaker. screachers and overlapping jibs won't sail deep. in tradewind conditions (18-25 knots), most bluewater cruisers will want to sail deep... not at angles too hot for an assym. and yes, ATN sock makes it very manageable.

third, furlable screacher or big jib if budget allows.
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Old 17-10-2009, 09:25   #9
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I agree with kiapa: a non overlapping, 95% high aspect jib is a must have when you sail around tradewind areas.

Dave: yes many cats have a screecher on a luff furler. But many leave that hoisted permanently which is certainly not the way to do it and they ultimately all get into trouble when a squall hits.

cheers,
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Old 17-10-2009, 09:46   #10
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Yes, in a sock. In a bag it is often too big to manage.

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Originally Posted by s/v Jedi View Post
Oh, I would recommend to put that asymmetric in a sock (ATN brand) instead of a bag. It will probably make the difference between being used regularly and not often if at all.

ciao!
Nick.
I honestly prefer hoisting right out of a bag; with the right technique it is easy. However, with my current boat the spinnaker will only go in the hatch if it is in the sock. It is a snap to lower it right into the hatch when it is in the sock.

I have had a screacher on a furler before. I didn't like having all of that windage up when it got nasty up-wind, so I ended up taking it off too often.

Personally, flying a spinnaker is one of the things that defines sailing. Gotta have it.
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Old 17-10-2009, 14:47   #11
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We went thru the same thought process last year and chose a standard symmetrical spinnaker. I wouldn't consider a symmetrical for our previous monohull, but it is well suited for a cat.

We have blocks in each bow for foreguys and I think a symmetrical gives more flexibility than an asymmetric. Instead of one sail tack, you have two and can easily jibe just by switching from the port to starboard foreguy without having to jibe the spinnaker around the forestay. Rigging is simple with two sheets and two foreguys you can do anything with it including reaching. The sheets don't have to be super long either since the lazy sheets don't have to go around forestay. We can put the wind apparent wind forward of the beam and still keep the chute inflated on a close reach.

The other advantage of a symmetrical cost. The racers trade them in often and you get a good used one for under 600 bucks. We got ours for $550 including a sock. When we were looking for used sails, symmetricals were cheaper and there were many more choices.

We used the chute on our last cruise and loved it. We had a couple 60nm runs with winds varying from very light up to 15 kts and it really reduced our diesel time.

When you choose a chute, make sure you get heavier cloth than normally used on monohulls. I discussed this with a sailmaker and he recommended a minimum of 1.5oz nylon cloth and we ended up with 2.2oz. Cats don't relieve pressure in the sails by healing over so you need a sail that will stand up to heavier forces.

Good luck with your new cat and by all means get a chute for it. Downwind runs are way more fun.
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Old 17-10-2009, 15:04   #12
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Gennaker's are nice for their ease of use (though on some boats, rigging a sprit is a PITA), but the spin, either sym or asym, is far more flexible and makes downwind sailing a far more do-able point of sail. I agree with the others, using an ATN sock makes it far easier.

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Old 17-10-2009, 15:16   #13
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Greg,

Yes the symmetrical has use too for a dead run and it's cheaper. But when you start reaching an asymmetric will do much better... at the cost of an extra sail.

You are using one of the big advantages of a cat; most mono-hull cruisers forget that they can rig two poles to do the same (they all have one pole because that's the maximum allowed in racing).
We are a ketch and can do the same principle (using the beam of the boat without pole or sprit) when flying an asymmetric mizzen spinnaker. It's one of the secret weapons aboard ;-) The main asymmetric is flown off a non-pivoting retractable bowsprit.

Our symmetrical is always stowed below decks but when I see the conditions in your photo's, I am sure it will come out when we get those conditions (in trade winds now).

ciao!
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Old 17-10-2009, 16:06   #14
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I agree with kiapa: a non overlapping, 95% high aspect jib is a must have
Sorry for a digresion from main topic, but could you please explain why is a non overlapping jib so important. I thought that non overlaping sails are much less effiecient. Thank you. Mato
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Old 17-10-2009, 16:26   #15
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Some questions :

1) How does one know what a "good" compromise size is for an asymmetric spinnaker?

2) How does one decide what a "good" shape is for general purpose cruising?

My confusion is because I have had competing sail makers suggest 1300 sq ft and 2000 sq ft respectively, both were given identical information, measurements and photos of the boat. I have been told both were "computer modeled".
Now I'm really discouraged and have given up the idea of getting one. With my luck I'll choose the wrong one.
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