Downwind: under full sail!

Published on 01 october 2014 at 0h00

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So we need to have a suitable sail, ready to launch from the forward locker. A spi? Yes, but which one? Are you sure that it is in fact a spi that you need? Oh yes, I forgot to mention: If you have skipped the last thirty years, I have bad news for you, your great big old symmetrical spi made from slightly stretchy nylon, no longer has the monopoly on tradewinds. Numerous other solutions are available to you. Here we conclude our technical series looking at sails, with downwind headsails.

At last the wind is favorable. You are going to be able to lengthen your stride and make the speedometer sing. You open your sail locker, and there in front of you are four options. Yes, four! OK, so four theoretical options, because actually depending on your boat and your program, you might only have one on board. Or at best, two. Or in any case, not more than three. Unless you want to make your sailmaker rich! So which do you choose? To make the right choice, there are two factors to take into account: the direction and the strength of the expected apparent wind. And for apparent wind, you have to consider the potential acceleration of your multihull. In effect, a better-performing sailboat will have closer wind angles than one designed for more sedate cruising, which lets itself be carried by the wind. It’s on the latter that our good old symmetrical spi will continue to work. If you’re looking for a bit more stability, be ready to come up a bit more in relation to the true ...

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