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Anatomy of a Spinnaker Set: Part 1 – The Bear-Away Set

Anatomy of a Spinnaker Set: Part 1 – The Bear-Away Set

The bear-away set is the typical set we will use at the windward mark. It involves turning the boat downwind around the mark, but not jibing. The spinnaker is set on the port side of the boat (for a port rounding) and the pole is set up on the starboard side. The only time we would not do a bear-away set is in a large right hand shift (if the wind direction has veered or shifted to the right while facing upwind).

1. Approach to Layline

  • Tactician – decide what spinnaker we will be using and what type of set we will do. Call for the sail on deck.
  • Runners – Go below and get the proper sail. Pass forward to the rail.
  • Bow – hook up the spinnaker while still on port tack if at all possible. Clip bag to lifelines. Attach port and starboard spin gear making sure that it is clear of everything. Bring halyard to the rail. If you are close to layline, hook it up. If not, clip halyard to the lifeline (or better yet, the strop at the base of the stanchion) leaving enough slack that the halyard won’t interfere with the jib once we tack.
  • Everyone else – hike hard. It should only take one person off the rail to set up the spinnaker.

2. On Layline

(no more than five boatlengths from the mark)

  • Tactician – Assure the foredeck that you are indeed on layline and will not need to tack again
  • Jib trimmer – Put slack in lazy jib sheet. Ease guy and spin sheet to facilitate raising the pole. Then load guy onto starboard primary winch (three turns, handle in, high gear).
  • Pit – Pull topping lift to raise outboard end of pole. We use the starboard jib halyard as the topping lift so you should be able to do this without really leaving the rail.
  • Mast – Open snap shackle at base of mast to free topping lift. If there is time, break topping lift at pennant and reattach outside the lazy jib sheet. Raise inboard end of the pole. Help jump topping lift if necessary.
  • Bow – Pull back on guy (and sheet) from the rail so that the pole end doesn’t get caught to leeward or between the jib and the headstay.
  • Everyone else – Hike really hard. There should only be three people (two-and-a-half really as the pit person can just turn around to reach the topping) off the rail at this point.

3. Two Boatlengths to the Mark

  • Bow – Attach spinnaker halyard if necessary. Open the spinnaker bag fully and remove any Velcro strips from the clews.
  • Floater – From the rail, pull guy and lazy sheet together to assist in getting the spinnaker tack to the end of the pole.
  • Guy Trimmer – Pull guy back so that spinnaker tack reaches the end of the pole and the pole is a foot or two off the headstay.
  • Spin Sheet Trimmer – Remove lazy runner and load spinnaker sheet onto port cabin top winch. Adjust jib trim as necessary.
  • Pit – Take any slack out of spinnaker halyard.
  • Everyone else – Hike harder

4. At the Mark

  • Tactician – Call the hoist when the boat turns down and begins to flatten.
  • Main Trimmer – Ease the main sheet a lot to allow the boat to turn down. Then ease outhaul, cunningham, and backstay. Adjust vang as necessary.
  • Spin Sheet Trimmer – Ease jib several feet then go to spin sheet. Do not trim spin sheet until the kite is aloft. Once it is up, trim in and start talking to the helmsman about pressure.
  • Guy trimmer – Square the pole back about one quarter to one half the distance between the forestay and shrouds depending on wind strength (further back in more breeze). Make sure to adjust foreguy while you do this.
  • Mast – Jump the spinnaker halyard until it is at full hoist. Call out “Kite’s aloft!” then help bowman get the jib down by grabbing the leech of the sail and pulling it down and towards the center of the boat.
  • Pit – Tail spinnaker halyard until it is at full hoist. If the mast man doesn’t quite get it all the way up (6 feet or less to go), worry about it after the jib is down. Ease the jib halyard down (make sure you have a turn on the winch before you open the clutch—the turn can be on top of the winch fully loaded with the spin halyard). Once the jib is down, grind the spinnaker halyard up to full hoist. Flake the jib halyard in figure eights using the winch drum and your hand.
  • Bow – Feed the spinnaker out of the bag. Facilitate the hoist by pulling the foot of the jib inboard to open up the slot between the jib and the lifelines. Once the spinnaker is up, pull the jib down keeping it inside the lifelines.
  • Everyone – Keep hiking until the last possible moment before you do your job. It is critical to keep the boat flat when turning down around the mark.

5. After the Rounding

  • Main Trimmer (and others) - Make sure the sail and rig controls are eased.
  • Mast – detach jib sheets, toss port one over the inboard end of the pole and clip them together. Bring lazy guy forward to bowman to prepare for jibe.
  • Bow – Once boatspeed is up, detach jib halyard from sail and clip it to the bow. Pull the luff all the way down and out of the sail track. Detach tack of jib and pull the sail aft of the foreguy.
  • Everyone Else – Get as much weight as possible near the shrouds and down low. Look back to find the next puff.
  • Guy Trimmer (or someone else in the cockpit) – Unwind jib sheet off leeward primary. Load lazy guy onto the winch leaving plenty of slack for the bowman to take it all the way forward for the next jibe. Ditch the runners and load the lazy spin sheet on the windward cabin top winch.
Source: J/44