Kite Handling

N.B. I’ve watched the windward drop at 3 mins 23 secs. They gather the foot first as described below in the North Tuning Guide and then let go the halyard – who is letting the halyard go? There’s nobody near the cleat which is on the mast??? Possibly the kite halyard is cleated on the cabin roof, starboard side of the hatch – this means there’s two people to tidy away the kite as there’s nobody on the foredeck.

Spinnaker maneuvers from North Tuning Guide
The J/80 can be handled well around the entire course with a crew of 4. We will detail the maneuvers for all four people; helmsman, middle / aft (M/A), middle / forward (M/F), and forward/Bow crew members.
1. M/F presets the pole, pulls the spinnaker out of the companionway, makes sure halyard is in front of spreaders.
2. M/A pre-feeds tack line and hands tail to helmsman for rounding.
3. Bow crew hoists halyard at the helmsman’s command.
M/F feeds out spinnaker
M/A furls jib quickly.
Helmsman pulls the tackline final distance.
Getting the jib furled is key to a successful quick set. This allows the spinnaker to have clear air almost immediately. The helmsman must remember not to ease the mainsheet too much as to trap the spinnaker behind the boom and against the spreaders.

Jibing the Spinnaker
The gybing maneuver of the Asymmetrical spinnaker is very different than most people are used to. North Sails has developed a ” small-boat ” technique that makes turning the J/80 a bit easier and results in a successful gybe without a wrap in the sail.
First and foremost, get a trimmer who is excitable and aggressive and wants to pull harder than a horse during each jibe. This helps to get the sail around the forestay in a hurry. The speed of the trimmer is very important!!
Step One: Get every body ready and make sure that the old spinnaker sheet is free to run. Pull all slack out of the tack line.
Step Two: The skipper or another crewmember takes the old sheet. As the boat is Slowly turned dead downwind, the sheet is eased to maintain proper trim. We have the skipper ease the sheet because they have a better feel for how the boat is turning through the gybe. Once the clew is near the headstay, the trimmer pulls on the new sheet and the forward /middle crew overhauls the new sheet directly from the clew of the sail ( on the windward side of the boat ). It helps to have a mark on the spinnaker sheet at the point where the clew is forward of the headstay.
Step Three: Once the sail clears the headstay and begins to fill on the new jibe the Skipper and the forward person work together to pull the boom across onto the new jibe. The skipper turns the boat up onto the new course. The trimmer eases the sheet out to its proper trim for the new course.
Quite often this is an ease of up to six feet of line. Anticipate the boat loading up on the new jibe. Have the crew ready to move to windward to flatten the boat to accelerate out of the jibe.

Spinnaker Takedowns
Claw that Kite from the sky FAST!
Takedowns with Asymmetrical Spinnaker are often the trickiest maneuvers. We always takedown on the port side on a normal Windward / leeward or triangle race course unless a gybe-set is guaranteed. There are three basic types that should handle any approach to the leeward mark; windward drop, leeward drop, and the “Mexican”.

As you approach the leeward mark, make sure the halyard is ready to run and unfurl the jib. Make your approach to the mark a little high so you can bear off downwind to relieve some of the pressure on the spinnaker. When ready, the middle / forward crew hauls the spinnaker around the headstay with the lazy sheet. Once you have the sail in hand, the forward crew eases the tack line to gather the foot of the sail. Be sure to keep the foot taught and on the deck so the sail stays out of the water. The halyard should be blown as soon as the foot is out of danger. You don’t want to go shrimping! Retract the pole, clean up and have a great rounding.

As you approach the mark, be sure the halyard and the tackline are free to run.

Option A. Tack Blow-Away
Have the forward / middle crew grab the spinnaker sheet. When they are ready, blow the tack line and begin to gather the sail. Release the halyard when the foot is nearly all gathered and the sail is under control. Retract the pole, clean up and have a great rounding.

Option B. Floater Drop
Overtrim the sail so the foot is stretched tight. Have the forward / middle crew grab the spinnaker sheet. When they are ready, blow the halyard. Quickly gather the sail along leech with the foot tight. DO NOT release the pole until the sail is under control in the boat. Ease the pole and the tackline to complete the takedown. Clean up the cockpit and have a great rounding.

The Mexican
From America’s Cup fame comes the Mexican, a simultaneous gybe / douse. As you approach the leeward mark on starboard tack, you need to jibe to round to port. Be sure the halyard is free to run and the jibe unfurled. Just before the jibe, overtrim the spinnaker to tighten the foot. Have the middle / forward crew grab the spinnaker sheet close to the clew of the chute. As the helmsman jibes the boat the crew should begin pulling in the sail, making sure the foot gets on the deck and not in the water. Proceed with the takedown just like a windward takedown.

As in all maneuvers practice makes perfect. Best of luck with your J/80. The best way to get up to speed is to go out and work through some tacks, jibes, sets, and takedowns. Have fun with one of the best sport boats around!