GP14 Sailing Forums Forum Assymetric spinnaker on GP14

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    • #26756

      Was wondering if anyone has tried this or thought it through?

      I can borrow an assymetric sail from another class. Was wondering about making a bowsprit from an old windsurfer mast , secured to the mast at deck level and to the bow fitting.

      I don’t want to cut a chute into the deck and bow tank, so would have to somehow launch/recover using the existing bags.


      Objectives are:

      1) it might be fun to try

      2) I often club race single-handed and find it a bit leery to go forward to work the conventional spinnaker pole.

      Obvs it wouldn’t be class legal.


      Here’s one retrofitted on a Laser-2.

    • #26765
      Oliver Shaw

      You are undoubtedly right in saying that this would be outside Class Rules,  so that raises the question as to the circumstances in which you might use the rig.   For non-racing,  I agree that it might be fun to try,  although I suspect that it would be not as much fun as a standard symmetrical spinnaker.    For class racing it is an absolute no go,  but you might perhaps be able to agree local handicap racing at your local club;   that would be a matter for negotiation,  and ultimately it would be for them to decide.   They would then need to allot you a suitable handicap,  which might be technically difficult (because of the absence of any hard data on which to base it),  but in the first instance you would need to ask them,  and they might or might not agree.

      There would seem to be some technical issues with mounting the bowsprit in the way you suggest.   Attachment to the mast should be reasonably straightforward,  except that on many GP14s it would obstruct the spinnaker pole downhaul.   Attachment to the stemhead fitting might be more problematic,  as you would need a secure and rigid means of attachment while simultaneously spacing the sprit off to one side of the fitting in order to allow adequate clearance for attaching and removing the genoa;   and also adequate clearance for genoa furling gear,  which I suspect you would regard as highly desirable if using an asymmetric spinnaker.    And the combined effect would possibly be to push the end of the bowsprit  –  which is where it matters  –  well off the centre line,  unless you made an appropriate adjustment specifically to correct that.     All these issues are no doubt solvable,  but they would require to actually be solved;    and the traditional solution to the third one is to offset the heel of the mast to one side,  significantly off-centre,  so that the end of the sprit ends up on the centre line.

      I agree that setting a conventional spinnaker single-handed is a challenge,  although in lighter winds it can be an interesting one;   I used to do so regularly in light winds until my late seventies,  but now that I am into my eighties I wouldn’t still risk it,  and I never did it single-handed in stronger winds.   A tiller brake helps immensely,  so that the tiller can be kept central while you go forward to set (or hand) the spinnaker.   In my youth I used a pair of lanyards permanently fixed inside the cockpit,  and just quickly tied each of them to the tiller,  but over the last 20 years I have instead used a fixed shock cord across the cockpit below the tiller;   just lift it and place it on top of the tiller when you want it to hold the tiller in place.

      For what it is worth,  I have the impression that asymmetric spinnakers are great on a beam reach,  but useless on a run;  so tacking downwind becomes de rigeur if you are using one.   Also it was reported a few years ago that one of the reasons our top youth sailors enjoy racing the GP14 is because it is a very technical boat,  and particularly because of the symmetrical spinnaker,  which demands far more skill than does an asymmetric,  and which then rewards that skill.

      Finally,  if you are thinking of modifying the rig,  two further ideas for you.   First,  a few years ago a group of Hampshire sailors fitted out a GP14 hull as a 1/13-scale replica of Nelson’s HMS Bellerophon,  for a local Regatta;   that is worth trying to track down online.   It is possible that I may have a record of the URL elsewhere,  but it is not to hand at the moment;   if I find it I will post an update.

      Second,  see the attached photo.   My own A Capella,  sailing in Holy Island Sound in 2010,  wearing the rig of a rather nice American 40-ft gaff cutter,  courtesy of photo-editing software.

      Have fun!



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      • #26781
        Oliver Shaw

         1/13-scale replica of Nelson’s HMS Bellerophon based on a GP14 hull:

        Found it!   And I had misremembered the name;  should have been HMS Belleisle,  “which as the second ship in Collingwood’s column had acquitted herself famously before being dismasted by the combined fire of three enemy ships. She was built in France as the Formidable, taken, and re-named for the British navy.”



    • #26786

      Thanks Oliver!

      Love the square rigged GP14, but glad that sail technology has moved on and we don’t have to do that anymore!

      I’m not too worried about class rules or handicap – the GP14 class rules expressly forbid single-handed racing (rule 16) and yet the club are happy to have me prop up the numbers on their start line. Fast GP14 sailors use symmetric kites so I presume that’s faster than assymetric, hence I would still be slower than the GP14 handicap number.

      Entertainingly, the class rules set the maximum luff length and pole length, but don’t require the spinnaker to be symmetrical, or set any restrictions on the pole being configured as a bowsprit, so I might even be class-legal with it!

      Downwind sailing with an assymetric is indeed an skilled art, you need to head up onto a reach in the lulls to make boatspeed and apparent wind, and broader down in the gusts towards the mark, and play the shifts.

      Anyway, looking more for anyone’s experience of ‘how’ to set an assymetric rather than ‘why’. Current thinking is to lash some kind of pole to the stemhead fitting and the mast. I’m not worried about the tack of the spinnaker being exactly on the centreline.

      The stemhead lashing could provide the ‘downhaul’ function (resist the upward pull from the kite) as it can resists the (much greater) upward pull from the genoa luff.

      Likewise the stemhead can resist the sideways force from the kite and/or genoa, but I was wondering about also running a guy outward, from the bowsprit end to the shroud bases, to help support the sideways loads.

      Not sure whether to use the existing spinnaker sheet blocks, or sheet it from further forward, many classes have assymetric sheets located at the shroud base.

      Hoping to get hold of a spinnaker from an RS200, which is the same sail area as a GP14’s.

      Need to think how to recover the sail without a chute or retrieval line- anyone suggest something? Otherwise I will try gathering it by hand, under the boom and genoa sheet, in the lee of the main.

      • #26787
        Oliver Shaw

        the GP14 class rules expressly forbid single-handed racing (rule 16) 

        >  Entertainingly, the class rules set the maximum luff length and pole length, but don’t require the spinnaker to be symmetrical, or set any restrictions on the pole being configured as a bowsprit, so I might even be class-legal with it!

        Both are points that we might usefully address in the next revision of the Class Rules.   Purely personally,  and not in any way committing the Association,  I feel that Rule 16 might usefully be recast in terms of the normal complement being two persons,  but with specifically no bar to single-handing;   and I think I could make a strong case there.    That case would include that (1) the single-hander is normally at a slight disadvantage,  except perhaps in ghosting conditions,  and (2) the Rules have never (so far as I know) specified upper or lower limits on crew weight.   Possibly the youngest (and lightest) ever helmsman in the WLYC 24-hr race,  and featured on the front cover photo of Mainsail that year,  was George Graham,  in 2008,  then aged six.   He actually had an adult crew,  whom I presume was his father;   but he could “legally” have had a teenage crew.   If a six-year-old plus a teenager are class-legal,  which they undoubtedly are,   and rightly so,  why not an 82 kg single-hander,  of much the same weight and perhaps similar overall ability?

        On the matter of the spinnaker,  and the pole,  I am sure that the Rules clearly assume that the sail is symmetric;   but I accept that this is not explicitly stated,  and perhaps it should be.    You are possibly the first person to have raised this issue.

        On the matter of the pole,  agreed the Rules do not preclude it being rigged as a bowsprit,  but the maximum length is probably far too short for it to be effective in that role.




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