Twin Spinnaker Poles Suddenly Topical…..!!

One of the teams at Datchet has been trying twin poles, …. and getting lots of advice from the rest of us – ha!!   Then this item came in from Jeremy Arnold at Notts County :

I’m just sending you some pictures of a twin spinnaker pole conversion that I have just done to my boat (3936) as I know you like to feature this kind of thing on your blog, and indeed I’ve spent quite a bit of time on your blog myself in the past looking at similar pictures.

The modern twin-pole system as developed by the 505s and Merlins etc is becoming increasingly popular on Flying 15s, and the advantages of getting rid of the twinning lines entirely, not to mention the need for the pole to be clipped on and off the guy during every spinnaker manoeuver, is huge. The downside is that the system itself is more complex and there is a lot of extra rope in the boat. We already had a couple of F15s at my club (Notts County SC) with the system who raved about how well it worked, but it was the overall ‘messiness’ of the installation that was continuing to put me off the idea – plus the fact that I was still a bit vague at that stage on exactly how it all worked.

My boat already had a single pole launcher (ie. a Spiro), but Andy Farmer of P&B who sails at our club kept extolling the virtues of the twin pole system and one weekend earlier this summer myself and my crew John Allen arranged to swap boats for one race with Angus Wright (3975), whose boat had already been converted to twin poles. John and I were ‘converted’ during that race too, finding that the system that looked complicated from the outside was actually completely intuitive to use, and indeed much simpler to use than a conventional single pole. John’s only complaint was that he didn’t like the awkwardness of having the cleat for the spinnaker guy mounted behind him and vertically on the inside face of the side tank – and my own chief complaint about every F15 I’d seen the system on was also the inelegant way the spinnaker guy is led via multiple blocks from the gunwale, across the decks, down the face of the front bulkhead, and then (exposed and above the floor) down the sides of the cockpit.

I began to take measurements and realised that by installing tubes through the sidetanks the guy could be led directly from the gunwhales down to the mast base area, and from there along the central tunnel via 3:1 purchases hidden under the floorboard. The photos explain this better than words can, and by happy co-incidence the distance along the central tunnel to the rear face of the console gives you exactly the range of travel required to move the spinnaker pole from a ‘fine reach’ position against the forestay all the way back to a ‘square running’ position.

Brackets were fabricated from thick aluminum (stainless would have been better but I didn’t have any) and mounted on the gunwhales to lead the guy down the tubes. The brackets themselves bolt through the same holes in the gunwhale that originally took the twinning lines.

I moulded-up some cleat mounts (in the same style as the jib cleat mounts!) to mount the spinnaker guy cleats on the side of the console (ie. the cleats beneath the ‘Tension’ cleats in the photos), which puts them in front of the crew rather than behind, and with the spinnaker guy rope led at the same angle as the spinnaker sheet itself. Plus the helm can easily adjust them from here as well, with none of the stumbling-about required when the helm needs to release a forgotten twinning line during a gybe etc.

Twin pole launchers require twin cleats for the launcher ropes, but there isn’t space on the Ovington deck moulding to take two cleats side-by-side – plus, even though everyone and his dog has been using the big Racemaster compass for years, the latest Ovington deck mould still doesn’t have a flat surface big enough to mount a Racemaster properly. To solve this I moulded-up a mount as shown in the photos for both the cleats and the compass, which also raises the cleats up slightly and puts them on an angle.

That’s it really; the system itself operates in exactly the same way as they all do, just with a neater installation and better ergonomics. The only scary bit of the conversion was trying to work out exactly where the inside end of the tubes needed to exit the side tanks, and having the encourage to cut the holes in the calculated position!

Hope the above is of some use to you – if you have any queries just let me know


Jeremy Arnold – GBR 3936, Notts County SC

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