Downwind Sails

Spinnaker or Cruising Chute?

Compared with other types of rig, the modern bermudan sail plan is highly efficient to windward. Downwind, though, it's a different story - and that's where spinnakers and cruising chutes come in.

Not so long ago, lightweight downwind sails were regarded by many cruising sailors as the exclusive preserve of the racing fraternity, who employed vast crews to tussle with acres of unruly spinnaker nylon. But the reality is now very different. In the same way that upwind sailing has been made less strenuous by the increasing popularity of selftacking jibs, fully-battened mainsails and cockpit-controlled reefing systems, developments with spinnakers and cruising chutes have resulted in more stable, easily-managed sails which can be comfortably handled by smaller crews.

For optimum efficiency, you need a spinnaker whose tack is projected from the end of a pole to bring it out from behind the mainsail on a broad reach or run.  The drawback is that, since the sail is larger than a cruising chute and only firmly attached at one corner (the head), it needs more care in hoisting, trimming and dowsing.

A cruising chute, on the other hand, is smaller and easier to manage, but less efficient as the wind comes further astern. The solution we often suggest is to have one of each: perhaps a 0.9oz spinnaker for racing, and lightweather running/broad reaching in cruising mode, plus a 1.5oz cruising chute. Not only can the chute be tacked to the stemhead when cruising but, flown from the pole as an asymmetric spinnaker, it will double as a highly effective reaching kite in breezy conditions.

This way, you'll keep the family happy and have a 'secret weapon' on the race course!

 Design your own Spinnaker Colour layout Here Online & RIGHT NOW!

 Just use on our KEMP SPINNAKER WIZARD link below:

(Please note, the layouts are artistic impressions and may differ slightly from the actual finished sail panel layout)

CLICK HERE to use the Kemp Sails Spinnaker Wizard Designer

Alternatively, download our own "Kemp Sails Spinnaker Layout Sheet", from the "Measurement Forms" area on this website, and you can print and colour the sails yourself. If you fax this form back to us please remember to mark the colours on the panels by name / letter as fax's are only Black & White !!!!


For Furling Downwind Sails (see the dedicated page)


No matter how experienced you are in handling spinnakers or cruising chutes, the combination of large sails, fresh winds and small crews sometimes calls for some extra help.This is where the snuffer comes in - a nylon sock which pulls down over your spinnaker and turns it in to a long sausage, with the head at the top and the tack and clew at the bottom. When you want to use the spinnaker, you start by hoisting the snuffer to the masthead with the sail bundled up inside.The spinnaker will only start to fill when you pull the snuffer up from the bottom using its own internal halyard - so you can make sure everything's totally under control before any wind gets into the sail.When you've finished spinnakering, you pull the snuffer down again and lower everything back on deck.