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3. TRI Training. Sail handling

Sail handling

This we do a lot, so make sure all the systems are working well and getting as much weight/friction as possible makes this a bit easier.

Working Sails

Main + Jib. This pair is up most of the time that's why they're called the working sails. Depending on the course angle we are on, the flying sails get hoisted; these are the Screecher or the Spinnaker.

Wardrobe summary

Main and jib, most of the time

Screecher, when reaching

Spinnaker, when running

First rule of sail handling is, never be bear-headed. This means that you must always have a foresail on. So when you are hoisting/dropping headsail combinations, there always has to be one flying.

Next, prepare the sail you will need for the next leg before you get onto that leg. That takes a bit of planning.

Caution: all the flying sails can power up very rapidly. Do not cleat them off, ever! Keep the sheet wrapped around the winch but ready to be dumped at any stage!


Used to cover Wind Angles from about 60 - 120 degrees where 0 is directly on the bow.

The Screecher is one of the more powerful sail types. It flies from the bow sprit, hoists from just below the Spinnaker hoist and overlaps the mast.

It's constructed of very strong material to take the high loads we place on it. Specifically designed for spirited reaching!

Mod: The standard Corsair 750 sheeting arrangement has the Screecher block attached to a small track on the gunwhale of the mainhull. This is a good setting if you are using the Screecher for tight angles (60-80). In any decent breeze the Screecher will power up rapidly and can be a bit overwhelming for newbies.

So we prefer to use a tweeker to pull the sheet a little bit further outboard. This takes the Screecher somewhat and helps calm things down enough for newbies until they get used to it.

The C28, C31 and 970 all have the sheet block attached to a strap halfway outboard on the rear beam. This definitely benefits from having a tweaker block arrangement.

The standard arrangement for the Screecher tack is to be directly shackled to the bow sprit. That requires someone to physically attach the shackle to the eyestrap and that means, someone wriggles out on the bow pole. If you don't want to do that, we add a 2:1 tack line that can do the same job without you having to climb out there.

Attach the Screecher tack to the pole during rigging so that it's ready to go.

We like to hoist the Screecher just before we really need it. Get it hauled up and get the halyard tension very firm.

Mod: Corsairs originally came with drum furlers but we subsequently phased these out for Selden Continuous Line Furlers. The drum furler has a nasty habit of jamming right when you need it most!

Make sure the sheets are run properly. These we swapped for Maffioli monofilament sheet which is strong and yet one fifth the weight of the standard cruising poly ropes. Getting the weight out of the sheets just makes it easier to manhandle.

Deploying the Screecher is really simple.

The Continuous Line Furler can't suffer a tangle in the way a Drum Furler can. So for the Continuous Line Furler, just start sheeting the sail on and it will automatically unfurl the sail.

For the Drum Furlers, you need to ease the furling line out. Don't just dump it otherwise it'll end up with an override on the furling drum and then you have a problem!

Once it's open and filled, trimming it is pretty much like any sail, keep the tell tales flowing. Inside tell tales agitating, outside ones flowing.

Dousing: Simple. Have the trimmer ease the sheet but don't flog the sail. Have someone else start hauling on the Furling Line!

Dropping: Also a simple affair. Ease the halyard and snake the sail along the gunwhale of the mainhull and strap it down.


The fun end, but not as bad as everyone thinks.

Angle: The asymmetric spinnaker is designed to sail efficiently from 110-160 degrees.

Trimming: this is a flying sail whereby the luff of the sail flies to windward and it's not a straight edge but rather a curve. Trimming it is best accomplished by observing the luff of the sail and keeping it on the verge of luffing. To be really effective with the spinnaker, coordination between the trimmer and the helm is critical.

Hoisting: make sure the sheets, halyard, tack are all connected, correctly. Here is the first newbie mistake connecting the sheets ahead of the halyard, but you’ll only do that once!

  • Make sure that the bag is open but hooked to the deck

  • Have someone ready on the halyard and another on the tack line

  • Bear away until the boat is sailing on a broad reach

  • Once the Apparent Wind has washed off, haul out the Spinnaker tack and haul up on the halyard

  • Ensure the spinnaker goes to full hoist

  • With the sail at full hoist, sheet in the spinnaker until it inflates

  • Once it has inflated, ease some sheet until the luff starts to break

  • Head the boat course up a little to get the boat accelerating

Sailing a course with the asymmetric spinnaker is a very gentle ‘S’ course. Heading up to attach the Apparent Wind and then gently bearing away as the boat accelerates.

Beginners error: heating up too much and bearing away too rapidly.


This is where things can get interesting for everyone.

There are two ways to drop the kite,

  1. Get it down without drama and,

  2. Make a huge mess!

There are two ways of getting to down,

  1. Windward drop

  2. Leeward drop

Out of these two, the Windward drop is your safest bet and why we like to teach it.

Windward of course refers to the windward side of the boat. So if we bring the sail to the windward side and foul the drop up, the sail will be sucked onto the rig but never go in the water - that’s why it’s safest.

In the leeward drop, the sail is doused on the leeward side of the boat, here if you foul the drop the sail will end up in the water and that’s a mess to sort out.

One. Windward Drop

Here’s the process

  1. Bear the boat away to a deep broad reach but DO NOT gybe

  2. Let the wind swing from Apparent back to True

  3. Pull all the slack out of the windward sheet

  4. Let the leeward sheet go

  5. Let the Tack line go

  6. Gather the spinnaker until the foot of the spinnaker is completely on the Windward side of the boat

  7. Let the halyard go

  8. Rapidly gather the Spinnaker in

  9. Stuff it in the bag

Two. Leeward Drop

Here’s the process,

  1. Make sure the spinnaker bag is affixed to the leeward trampoline

  2. Bear the boat away to a deep broad reach again easing the sheet as you go, DO NOT gybe

  3. Let the wind swing from Apparent back to True

  4. Get a hold of the lazy sheet (windward sheet) while standing on the leeward trampoline

  5. Let the halyard go

  6. Quickly gather the spinnaker onto the trampoline

  7. Once it’s all down, let the tack line go

  8. Stuff it all into the bag on the deck

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