Chris Turner on his Spinnaker Handling Fit-Out….!!

A few days ago we published an item on our World Champions’ fit-out for spinnaker handling…. This is what Chris has to say about it:-

I have the kite cleat forward (same on Sake) so I can control the drop. Free’s Graham to have his head out of the boat. I pull the kite down, no need for a sock through the cockpit as you simply stuff the kite forward. After the first couple of pulls you are pulling on the sail itself anyway. Merlins, Scorpions and a lot of traditional UK Classes have this set up, it is nothing new.
Lead is where it is as there was no where else to put it! Handly you can put your toe under it on a windy reach too!
Got a few new ideas that will come for the Nationals…



Spinnaker Pole Up/Downhauls…….!!

We ran a small item a few days ago about the ten boat FF Classic/Silver Fleet at Ullapool.  By the way, google says the population of Ullapool is 1,300 people, so 10 FF’s makes them one of the densest concentrations of 2 person keelboat racing than anywhere in the UK, including Shetlands!!  
Adrian Morgan there asked recently how best to rig up a spinnaker up/down haul system and asked the question of Graham Lamond – Graham’s answer is below. It would be great though if someone in the National Fleet could send us explanatory photos, or a hand drawn diagram in jpeg of pdf format…. Can anyone help??
Adrian – you should also check out this very good FF 2663  Resoration Project
 I use a standard double ended pole, rather than a single end and launch roller on the mast. The pole uphaul downhaul has a loop through which the pole passes and there is a standard ‘ramp’ with a notch in the middle of the pole to hold the uphaul/downhaul in place.
The uphaul is rope, which goes up through a sheave below the spreaders and exits from the base of the mast on one of the sheaves in the mast base plug. The tail then goes on to a block through which a rope passes, going via turning blocks to the side deck cleats fitted midships between the helm and crew, so we can both make the adjustment on pole height. The length of the uphaul rope is set so that when released from either side deck cleat, the pole lies level when stowed along the boom. When the crew puts the pole on the mast ring prior to launching the kite, the pole will sit below the horizontal with the uphaul in the uncleated position and just resting on the rope end ball stops. The purpose of this is that when approaching the windward mark ready to bear onto the reach, the pole can be set ready (as long as you know you won’t have to tack again). Once round the mark, the helm hoists the kite, while all the crew has to do is ease the jib and raise the pole as the kite comes out of the chute/bags, then trim the sail. When dropping the spinnaker, the reverse is true. Releasing the pole uphaul allows the pole to drop to sufficient height to let the spinnaker be ‘flown’ into the chute, thus minimising the chances of it going under the boat. The pole can be stowed as soon as the sail is far enough in the chute to be under control. So you can see it is worth spending some time to get the length of the pole uphaul correct.
The downhaul is also a rope which passes through a small block on the front of the mast just above deck level and then to a double block mounted on the keel in front of the mast. The rope then goes forward round a turning block and back to the second sheave of the double block before coming up to a turning block and cleat on the vertical aft face of the foredeck. The turning block forward is anchored to a strong elastic which itself goes to a turning block on the forward deck beam and then aft to a convenient anchor point under the side deck. This way, the down haul is given tension to hold the pole down and also to take up the tension when the pole is stowed, but the length of travel is limited by the rope being adjusted by the cleat on the fordeck. I usually set this length so that the pole cannot rise by more than about 10 degrees above the horizontal, but the cleat allows adjustments if necessary. In truth, I rarely touch it once set. This system was copied from a GP 14, except that the elastic take up on the downhaul went sideways instead of forwards because of the bulkhead and I think they had to double the purchase because of the lack of length.

FF Weight Loss Program….

You may have been following our thread on reducing weight in older boats…

Did you know that boats with spinnaker bags weigh in more than boats with chutes?  So if you are looking to reduce the weight aboard your silver or classic, this is another area you might look.

It also occurs to me that if you have ordered your new boat with plain white decks, no waterlines and sailcloth chute cover, you might want to measure it in with bags, then revert to a chute later….

Hmmmm.  A bit much….

Handicap Racing without Spinnaker….!

Just been reading your article about handicap racing without a spinnaker. I have two observations.
1. I club race at Ripon SC (not in a Fifteen!) and the winds there are very variable. Asymmetrics do OK, but spinnaker boats such as Merlins can struggle  as the wind is rarely stable long enough to make it pay. From that point of view I can understand the plight of Fifteens in handicap racing on restricted water. I sail an Albacore and one of the reasons is because it doesn’t have a spinnaker and therefore is not penalised by a handicap that a spinnaker boat has.
2. On the other hand….. I have sailed my Fifteen a few times at Broxbourne at Fifteen open meetings. Again this is a small piece of water, especially for Fifteens. It is wonderful. The short legs really force you to learn to handle your boat, and become especially slick with spinnaker handling. In other words, stick with it and it will teach you a lot about handling your boat in close quarter racing and you will get a lot from it. The winds there can be variable too, but they manage. Of course it is fleet racing rather than handicap, but as they say, the more you practice, the luckier you get!
Best wishes
Graham Lamond
FF 617

The Piston-less Spinnaker Pole End…

If you use a fly-away pole, and like me you suffer jamming piston ends on the pole, then you may be interested to see this idea from Graham Brown….

End fitting (outboard / sheet end)

Most FF sailors know how these self launch / retrieve systems work but if not I can detail later.

Here are a couple of ideas I have tried and they work well are easy to make and have no moving parts.

In this photo we have shaped a Reverse hook arrangement with a slot down the middle that is slightly narrower than the spinnaker sheet (in this case a 4.8mm slot for a 5mm sheet).

Perpendicular to the “insertion slot” is a 12-15mm Sheet slot which the spinnaker sheet runs through.

This system works by inserting the spinnaker sheet (or Brace) into the slot and a simple twist then stops the sheet from falling out. I have used Black PTFE so the sheets have minimal friction when sliding through the fitting.

When Gybing , the pole is released back on to the boom then a quick twist and the sheet is ejected and ready to put onto the other sheet (With a reverse operation)

The fitting is the same Outside diameter at the pole but 40 mm if its length has be lathed down to the ID of the Spinnaker pole, inserted,  and held in place by a small screw.

This was Mk 1 developed for a Sailing Dory I have. MK2 was sold with my last boat.


Ovington and Composite Craft Spinnaker Sheaves…..

After racing last Sunday, we were thinking about the way that spinnaker sheave blocks have been evolving. In the Ovi Mk IX it was a bit agricultural – led across decks, outside tanks and around extra sheaves …. but in the Mk X they followed the Dingwall and Composite Craft boats in having sheets travelling in tubes through the tanks. In the Ovi the sheet emerges at the back of the cockpit, but in the Composite Craft Dingwall design it comes out further forward. These two photos are what it looks like at the back of the boat…

This is the Ovington idea, It looks a bit frumpy somehow, but those micro blocks are very light and easily replaced.  And my goodness, they run exceptionally freely.  So looks aside, I’m pretty impressed actually. You can also get at it easily if anything goes wrong….!!


The next photo is the Composite Craft Fifteen sailed by Charles.  You would have to say that the frumpiness isn’t there!  I can’t identify the fitting for the moment, but I guess it is some kind of very free running ball bearing  block. Access for replacement looks easy enough too. What about threading the sheets through? Hmmm….

It would be totally unlike Charles to have a fitting back there that is heavier than the Ovington solution, but with the metal casing I suppose it just might be. Maybe the Ovington has more weight in the fibreglass to build up the housing…..

So …. a big  “hmmmm”  on this one…..

FF – Rear Spinnaker Snatch Blocks….

On the new Ovington Mk X, the spinnaker sheets emerge from a tube running through the stern tank. So if the helm grabs them in the rear cockpit during a gybe, they rub direct on the gelcoat – not good.

I first saw this solution on a P&B boat and have fitted them to my Mk X – it works a treat. In this photo you will also see stern toestrap adjusters on a P&B boat. They are the little silver cleats on the rear bulkhead…

Contrast this with another feature on the blog about the Ovington Mk X at the dinghy show. I feel you’ll see a slightly better arrangement in that blog post….

Spinnaker Halyard Takeoff…

We’ve seen some information in this blog about spinnaker halyard takeoffs in both Ovington and Phil Evans fit-outs.

Here it is in a P&B boat, at least in the more common spinnaker chute application. It’s very tidy and being easy to see it is a huge plus point. The minus point is that it wont self cleat, and wont do it from any angle. I still like it though.

Flying Fifteen – Spinnaker Chute Cover…

Many of the boats at our Club don’t bother with covers on their spinnaker chutes. At an inland club, we really don’t have the waves to merit it. We hope to soon be able to post a new video though where you can see a Fifteen in a seaway under spinnaker where the nose dives under water for quite a few seconds. Dragons have the same challenge… That’s when the chute cover comes in handy – so long as you remember to close it of course !!

Here is one on a P&B boat. Very tidy and it works. The control line emerges at the forward face of the cockpit for the crew to operate. You only have to yank about 18 inches of line of course, so there’s not much string to get in the way.

FF – Hauling the Pole Off the Forestay in a Breeze… 2….

A few days ago, we published an item about a nifty gadget/idea on a new P&B boat for hauling the pole off the forestay in a breeze. We had a comment come into the blog from a lady FF sailor in Australia, who just happens to be a God-Level sailor in her own right (!) – and whose UK boat still sails at our Club (Hakuna Matata).  Anyway – this is the technique that they use for dragging the pole back…

“Alternatively, and much cheaper…… Because the guy will already be cleated on the jammer by the side stays , all the skipper needs to do is reach down the side tank and pull the guy (brace if you are Aussie!) upwards. The pull is 90 degrees to the direction the rope runs in, so even in a big sea breeze on a tight reach it’s very easy to pull on the required few inches……. And so much cheaper!!…”

I guess that the point is to cleat it at the side-tank AND the shroud so it’s cleated at both extremes, then Brace/Yank the guy….. So that’s telling you !!….Great !!

Flying Fifteen – Skiff Thinker’s Boat 4…Spinnaker Pump Cleat….

On 3644 I tried hard to make a pump system for the spinnaker work, but gave up. I have a feeling Adam Mangan has got it working though.  In our fourth article on Graham Brown’s radical FF, this is how he did it

NZL-3166: Pump Kite System

  • A reasonably common and extremely fast system for a Twin Bag Kite system on most dinghies, however the system photographed on our boat is the first one perfected on a launcher system
  • The photo shows the halyard coming (left of photo) from the mast and exiting the floor to a Harken Micro cleat. It then passes through a plastic thimble /ball “release” rope to a Harken swivel block. From here it passes through a block / rope loop arrangement that is used to pump or pull the kite up. Finally the halyard pass through a hole in the blue pivoting auto jam fitting.
  • How does it work? Well, as you pull the loop up the blue pivoting fitting jams the halyard and only allows the halyard to pull the kite up (the halyard automatically jams in the cleat). Then, as you release the loop down to the deck the blue pivoting fitting drops down and the slack (which is connected via the launcher to the centre of the kite) is taken up. Three pumps and 5 seconds later the kite is up.
  • On a “bag” launch system the tail of the halyard is taken up through a series of micro blocks tensioned with shock cord
  • On our system the tail is connected to the kite (for retrieval) and the slack is taken up between the cunning blue pivot fitting and the tails exit beneath the cockpit floor with a hidden shock cord system.

(With thanks to Graham Brown)

First Time Spinnaker Handling ….

The VC has made a good point in that we should start a series of articles on the FF Blog aimed at people climbing aboard a Flying Fifteen for the first time.  We shall eventually build it out into a new section of the website I suspect.  The first one we’ll have a go at here, is who-does-what in spinnaker hoisting, dropping and gybing in a boat with a spinnaker chute. Very importantly, you read it as a timeline down the page and on the left are the Helm’s responsibilities, and on the right the Crew Member’s….

Obviously, if this turns out to be clear, we’ll do one for boats fitted with bags….

                                         Spinnaker Handling
      Helm      Crew
Uncleat leeward twinning line
Uncleat  sheets
Clip guy (windward sheet) to pole
Push pole forward to engage uphaul loop
Clip pole to mast
Shout ‘pole on’
Uncleat halyard
Hoist spinnaker, cleat halyard
Concentrate on steering straight course Trim guy to mark if reaching or running
Trim sheet
Re-trim sheet continuously
Square spinnaker by pulling guy
Uncleat halyard but keep tension in hand
Pull downhaul As spinnaker enters chute, unclip pole from mast
Disengage uphaul loop
Unclip guy from pole
Slide pole along boom
Tidy and cleat twinning lines and sheets
Cleat halyard and downhaul
Pass sheet and guy to helm
Uncleat windward triming line
Pull guy astern until clew on forestay
Steer boat across wind Gybe boom using kicker
Pull in and cleat leeward trimming line
Steer with rudder between legs and Unclip pole from mast
control spinnaker Clip on new guy (windward sheet)
Unclip old guy (new sheet) from pole
Clip pole to mast
Trim and cleat guy
Trim sheet

Ovi on Ovi – Spinnaker Hoist and the 4000th Birthday….

Did you notice this at the Dinghy Show?? It’s another take on the spinnaker hoist….

I suppose I quite like being able to see exactly what is happening, but I have a feeling that I don’t like this….  It’s good that it swivels, but it’s bad that it can flop to one side. Upon reflection I really like and appreciate now the Phil Evans method of rigging this up. I’ll have to take a photo for a future news item, but Phil for a start buries the cleat away out of sight under the console and closer to the centre of gravity. It’s both good and bad that you can’t see it, but in general good….

Then where this is mounted, Phil uses a spring loaded simple block. It’s hoistable from all angles and the line self-cleats out of sight. So slightly less to get tangled up.  I’ll take some photos and show you the comparison and we can see what you think….

PS Am I seeing the photo properly? Does this look like the boat is numbered 3972??  So maybe around 2012 we hit the 4000 milestone!!!  That’ll be a bit of a rush in itself.  From a 2nd hand buyer point of view, does 3999 sound a lot older than maybe 4002??