Spinnaker gybing


Spinnaker ready to gybe

The following article describes a safe and fast way of gybing (jibing) a spinnaker on a 40 foot yacht. The key aim has been to reduce complexity so that no one in the crew is trying to do several things at once. E.g. it’s quite a common technique, where the spinnaker trimmer tries to trim both sheets at the same time during the gybe, which on this size of boat becomes nearly impossible in a good breeze.

The method requires that you prepare by making a mark on each of the spinnaker sheets for a base trimming position where the spinnaker clews only just clears the forestay when sailing without a pole.

To break down the activities it’s easier to look at the gybing maneuver as a three phase operation:

  1. Preparing for Gybe (Jibe)
  2. Gybing
  3. Post-Gybe

Phase 1: Preparing for Gybe

  • Tactician: calls “Set up for a gybe!
  • Mast: Raises the pole on the mast to the dip mark. Calls “Pole ready!
  • Pit: Prepares the new sheet on the winch and throws it forward so that the spinn-trimmer can reach it later
  • Main: Centers the Vang and starts bringing on the main sheet. Calls: “Main ready!

Everyone else just keeps doing what they’re doing, in particular Spinn-trimmer concentrates on trimming the kite, and the helmsman sails to optimal wind angle.

Phase 2: Gybing

    • Tactician: once decided the timing is optimal calls: “Gybe the boat
    • Helmsman: starts turning the boat around
    • Spinn-trimmer: eases the active sheet in order to keep the spinnaker perfectly trimmed while the boat is turning
    • Brace-trimmer: brings the pole back
    • Pit: eases the pole kicker (downhaul) to allow for the pole to come back
    • Spinn-Grinder: Locks off the active sheet once the mark is visible at the winch (see picture)


Mark on Sheet

Having made a mark on the sheet makes it so much easier

  • Spinn trimmer: Grabs the new active sheet and takes out any slack
  • Spinn Grinder: Moves across to the new winch and puts the handle in
  • Main trimmer: brings on the sheet quickly (or watches for the perfect timing to throw the boom across if the wind isn’t to heavy)
  • Tactician: Once the boat is going dead downwind calls “TRIP!
  • Mast: pulls the trip line on the pole
  • Pit: Eases the topping lift, i.e. dips the pole
  • Bow: Takes hold of pole and guides it across
  • Main trimmer: Throws boom across, i.e. gybes the main.
  • Brace trimmer: Takes the old active brace off the winch (after first checking that the spinn trimmer has the new sheet in his hand)

Phase 3 – post gybe

The boat is now sailing on the new course with the main gybed, and the kite flying beautifully but still hasn’t got a pole set.

  • Brace trimmer: moves across to windward and prepares the new brace on the winch (although not bringing it on)
  • Bow: attaches the new brace to the end of the pole and calls “made!
  • Brace trimmer: (Rapidly) brings on the new brace
  • Pit: Brings on the topping lift
  • Pit: in a slow controlled way eases the old sheet, which was locked off at the mark, allowing for the brace to gradually take over the load from the old sheet. There is some communication needed between Pit and Brace trimmer to make this happen.

That’s it, all done!

See also this youtube clip provided by Forespar which explains spinnaker gybing with a pole on slightly smaller boats (30-35 foot)