By mramcha on Sep 06, 2005
How to Kill a Burgee
I've spent the last half of the summer learning how to sail a Laser 2000. I used to sail a lot in my younger years, both on dinghys and on larger boats, but never with an asymmetric spinnaker.
Well, it takes a lot of getting used to. Basically, with a standard spinnaker (which has a pole that you can move a full 90 degrees between the forestay and the mast shrouds), you can sail with the wind pretty much anywhere from behind, all the way to kind of on the side. With an asymmetric spinnaker, your pole is NOT adjustable and sticks out the front. (i.e. kind of like a normal spinnaker with the pole against the forestay.)
This reduces the effective angles that you can efficiently sail with the asymmetric spinnaker. Then you need to add the complication of apparent wind (which windsurfers know ALL about), which means that once you start planing and moving faster, the apparent wind moves forward, which means you need to pull in more spinnaker, or bear off or both. (Normally you want to bear off because you are typically trying to get as downwind as possible on most legs when you are racing.)
If there's 2 of you on the boat, there's one person on the main and tiller, and one person on the spinnaker, and it requires an almost unspoken understanding of what to do to make this work well, especially if the winds are .... brisk.
If you're sailing with your 12 year old daughter who doesn't quite understand spinnakers yet, then its often easier to do the main, tiller and spinnaker yourself. (Advantages: no need for communication between the spinnaker guy and the tiller guy. Disadvantages: Its almost impossible to let out the spinnaker AND the main AND bear off when a gust hits you. Result:
Yes. We capsized, and then because my daughter insisted on clinging onto the boat because she didn't want to get wet, the mast went under, the wind blew the hull and the mast sailed downward, and we spent a pleasant 10 minutes sitting on the centreboard with the top of the mast happily burying itself deeper and deeper into the mud. We eventually got pulled out by a rescue boat, and then spent the next 30 minutes sailing back to the clubhouse with globs of mud dripping from the mainsail onto our heads.
In the picture you can see the remnants of the mud sticking to the top of the sail, and a very limp burgee which is not in its normal position.
(I've now got a purple one which matches the colour of the hull, the owner of the chandlery at the Sailing club does a very brisk trade in them as the water in the lake is pretty shallow)