The gennaker: do you know how to hoist and lower it correctly?

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gennakerThe gennaker is the sail of the moment, easier than the spinnaker: this asymmetrical sail has conquered the cruising world after the success it has earned on the race courses. But do you know how best to hoist and lower it?

bag-gennakerHOW TO FOLD
Proper maneuvering occurs primarily if everything has been properly prepared before a hoist. The first step not to forget is how to fold the gennaker; it is important that when you open the sail bag you find yourself, in order from above: the tack point, the pen and the sheet point
. In fact, the wall will always have to be the first one out. The advice is to hook the tack line now and check that it is clear, i.e., that it does not pass under the bow pulpit, on the wrong side of the forestay etc. To rig the sheets, remember to run them externally with each fixed and current maneuver. Stand at the bow and check, by pulling them, that they are over each line and off the shrouds/shrouds. At this point attach them to the sail sheet point. Here you have two choices: if you do the inside gybe (between gennaker and forestay) run the sheet inside the tack line and halyard, but if the gybe is outside (the sail gybes to flag) run it over the tack line and outside the halyard. Last arm the halyard, here depending on so many variables you may decide to keep a few feet of tacking by running it aft of the spreaders. This solution ensures you that when hoisting or tacking before the hoist, the halyard will not get caught in the various lights, mast radar or even the opposite spreaders. The safest preparation also involves splicing (bundling) a few meters of sail near the tack point, if not the entire sail. This way you can secure the sack at the bow, bring the sail tack up on the bowsprit, and not run the risk of it accidentally inflating (of course, the sack must be closed and tied on board).

THE “NORMAL” HOISTING IN REGATTA AND REDUCED CREW
The traditional hoisting maneuver changes dramatically if there is a large or small crew on board. In the first case, the ideal sequence will be: rig the gennaker, bring the tack into position (and if necessary bring out the bowsprit), lay down, and, while letting go of the jib, hoist the new sail. Remember to bring the windward sheet (the one that will not work) into the clear. Be careful: to prevent the gennaker from getting caught in the spreaders when hoisting, the bowman must keep the sail “hugged” by letting it out as far forward as possible. Once the halyard is at the masthead think about the sheet; if you cock it too soon you risk having it swell early, hindering the maneuver of those who are hoisting it. At the same time, the helmsman must lean evenly and steadily, remembering that if he remains too tight to the wind the sail will immediately swell, but if he remains too lean the gennaker will remain hidden by the mainsail and jib. Once properly hoisted it will have to rise again to pick up speed. In reduced crew (in two) one person should prepare the gennaker as described before. The coxswain goes to the stern, the bowman re-enters the cockpit, tears the sheet and hoists the sail. In this way, the gennaker goes up covered by jib and mainsail and with the sheet overhung (in aft gait): the sail is stalled and does not carry. In twos it is often best to rig the gennaker upwind so as to work safer and then tack and hoist.

gennakerTHE HOIST “GYBE SET” IN THE REGATTA
From English it means to hoist by jibing. A common maneuver in racing when arriving at a starboard tack buoy and wanting to exit with the gennaker hoisted port tack. Arm the gennaker upwind in anticipation of a white-sail gybe at the buoy. Tack line and bowsprit should be prepared on the approach: the right time to hoist is during the gybe, (if you are good, close-knit and with the gennaker spliced you can also anticipate hoisting from upwind). This way when the gybe is finished, you will find yourself with the gennaker overhead tack to port and have plenty of time to lower the jib.

gennakerHOW TO LOWER IT
Lowering as well as hoisting occurs correctly if the maneuver has been carefully prepared in advance. The halyard must be in the clear. The advice is to adduct it to eight so that there is no danger of fouling. If, on the other hand, you stick it in an aft cabin (from the portholes in the cockpit) remember to send it down by spinning it in your hands. The gennaker can be lowered in different ways as needed. The maneuver to be done depends a lot on the wind conditions, the size of the boat and gennaker… The classic lowering is done from downwind. Hoist the genoa on time while the bowman will be holding the gennaker sheet that does not work. To avoid problems it is advisable for the helmsman during the lowering to give a dry rest to stall the sail and bring the boat closer to the gennaker. Similarly, it is convenient to scramble the sheet to bring the gennaker closer to the boat but more importantly to send it into a stall. As usual, the halyard trimmer will shoot the halyard 5 meters, so that at the bow the crew can retrieve the tack line: once safely trimmed, he will trim the halyard and then let go of the tack line. Be careful, with little wind if you let go of the tack first you risk letting the sail end up in the water…. Downwind lowering can be a viable solution to have the crew work upwind and drop the sail directly to the deck. This maneuver usually occurs when gybing at the buoy. For example, sailing starboard tack, you hoist the jib first. Once on target, the helmsman jibs, and as the jib passes over the other tack, the halyardist must fire the gennaker halyard so that it falls to the deck as the boat goes to port tack. This maneuver is safe and can also be done at the buoy but is inadvisable in strong winds: the helmsman should not anticipate the heave to prevent the gennaker coming down from getting caught on the spreaders (upwind or downwind…).

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