A modern innovation
in boat design. First invented by Julian Bethwaite
in the late 1970s to use on his 18ft Skiff
s, the asymmetric spinnaker greatly simplifies the traditional spinnaker
design. It was inspired by the balloon genoa
s of J-Boat
s - racing yachts - and the America's Cup
boat Intrepid. The sail is supported around the top of the mast
, on the end of a bowsprit
and by a spinnaker sheet
controlled by the crew.
This invention was to be a massive advance in boat design. In 18ft skiffs the spinnaker can now be set in as little as five seconds, compared to thirty seconds with a traditional spinnaker. Gybing becomes far easier as with no spinnaker pole to move the asymmetric spinnaker can be gybed as easily as a jib, and the sail is far easier to handle with only one control (the sheet), compared to the complicated traditional system with its sheets, guys, reaching hooks etc. The large asymmetric spinnakers enable the boat to point higher than ever before, and allowes modern 18ft skiffs to sail faster than the wind!
Asymmetric spinnakers have revolutionised downwind sailing: Whereas with a traditional symmetrical spinnaker can be set dead downwind, the asymmetric can not be set below a broad reach. This creates a no-go zone downwind similar to the one encountered upwind, meaning boats must gybe downwind as they would tack upwind.
Asymmetric spinnakers are now standard on most new designs of dingy, for example in the 29er, 49er, RS200 and Cherub classes.