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Old 21-11-2006, 11:50   #1
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Help Determine Spinnaker Fabric Weight


I recently inherited my grandfather's boat along with his sail inventory, and I received 3 spinnakers, but I'm unsure what the weight of the cloth and it's not marked on the bags. Is there a way to determine the weight by sight? I want to make sure that I'm using them under the right conditions, so any help you can provide I would appreciate! Thank you!

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Old 21-11-2006, 12:36   #2
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You can do it visually, but you need experience at what each weight feels and looks like. So I'd say take them over to a sailmaker, or an experienced racing sailor, who can tell you in about 2 seconds.

Spinnaker weight is in ounces per yard; the most common weight is 3/4 oz, the really light ones are 1/2 oz and sort of translucent, and the heavier ones (usually smaller and flatter too) are more like 1 to 1-1/2 oz and more opaque.

This is really general, but a half-ounce spin is probably good up to 8-10 knots, 3/4 oz up to 15-18, and the heavier ones for 18-plus, up to where you don't want a spinnaker anyway.
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Old 21-11-2006, 13:01   #3
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Wow, thank you for all of that information! I'll take it to a sailmaker - but I really appreciate the guidelines. Thanks again!

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Old 21-11-2006, 16:03   #4
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For what its worth, a square yard of 0.5oz kite doesn't weigh 0.5oz (if you don't believe me, get yer scissors and yer kite and conduct an experiment... but it really doesn't matter.

The 0.5oz or 0.75oz is really just a general indication of what the kite is suitable. For example
0.5 oz = lightweight spinnaker, used in light breezes (0 - 10 knots?)
0.75oz = general purpose spinnaker, used in moderate breezes (5 - 18 knots?)
1.5oz = heavy weather spinnaker, used in heavy breezes (15 - 30 knots?)
2.25oz = bulletproof spinnaker, used in extreme wind (25 - ? knots depending on how big your cojones are!)

Of course, the above figures are only approximate - your mileage may vary. Most people cruising, short handed, probably wouldn't carry a spinnaker above 15 to 18 knots anyway.

Just as an aside, if you are flying a lightweight spinnaker in breeze of less than, say 8 knots, it is really worth using lightweight sheets. I have 3/8" sheets for most kite work, but use a 1/4" sheet for light breeze. Also, if you run a sheet and a brace (a.k.a. "guy") on each clew, remove the guy from the free clew in light breeze (you can either re-attach it prior to jybing, or just use the sheet as a brace (guy).
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Old 21-11-2006, 17:17   #5
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Having cut my teeth in San Francisco the winds that you guys are quoting are a bit low unless of course they are apparent wind and not true wind speeds. But for someone just starting out I guess they'll work.
Fair Winds,


Between us there was, as I have already said somewhere, the bond of the sea. Besides holding our hearts together through long periods of separation, it had the effect of making us tolerant of each other's yarns -- and even convictions. Heart of Darkness
Joseph Conrad
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fabric, spinnaker

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