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Dragonfly Sail Guide Downwind

Here is an in-depth guide to sailing downwind on a Dragonfly trimaran including how to set-up the gennaker, sail with the gennaker, trim the mainsail sailing downwind, and how to use the barberhaul system.

Overview

00m 32s – Gennaker setup

02m 17s – Gennaker sailing

04m 32s – Gybing with the Gennaker

07m 22s – Barberhaul line

11m 24s – Lowering the gennaker

13m 34s – Downwind mainsail trim

14m 40s – Butterfly with barberhaul system

Dragonfly Trimaran

Gennaker Setup

00m32s

Here we would like to demonstrate how to set-up the gennaker with 2 people. The skipper in the cockpit, and a crewmember on deck.

Ensure all lines are correctly attached to the gennaker: the halyard, tackline and sheets.

Pull on the halyard to raise the gennaker. Your crew member can assist by standing on deck and gently pulling the gennaker out of the hatch ensuring it doesn’t catch on anything.

Dragonfly Trimaran Sail Guide Downwind TMG Australia

Once raised, your crew will need to pull on the snuffer, raising the sail sock and setting the gennaker. The snuffer line is on a loop, so you will find that one line will raise the sock and the other line will lower the sock.

From the cockpit, take up any slack from the tackline and ensure the leeward sheet is on the winch.  Gently take up any slack on the sheet as the gennaker is released from the sock, to keep things tidy and under control.

When the sail sock has been pulled all the way up, secure the snuffer line. Make sure it is tied aft of the gennaker sheets so it is clear when gybing.

Dragonfly Trimaran Sail Guide Downwind TMG Australia
Dragonfly Trimaran Sail Guide Downwind TMG Australia

Gennaker Sailing

02m17s

Sailing with a gennaker (also known as an asymmetric spinnaker) on a Dragonfly is great fun!  Don’t be afraid of it.  Always make sure you have enough clear water to leeward so you have plenty of time to bare away and take the gennaker down.

If you get too close to the coast line, other vessels or any other obstacle, you may be forced to luff up into the wind and this is when everything gets messy.  This can all be avoided by giving yourself space.

You can sail with the gennaker in up to 60 knots of wind.  In a gust do not luff up, instead bare away quickly and the sail will de-power immediately.

If you are not used to the gennaker, test it out in low wind, for example 5-10 knots.

You don’t have a spinnaker pole, the front of the gennaker is fixed to the bowsprit, you only have 1 sheet to trim on each tack, and Dragonfly Trimarans are quite stable so you don’t have a lot of rolling around.

If you want to test it out in more wind, ensure that your crew and the helmsman are comfortable and ready to react quickly by bearing away and releasing the sheet if you need to lose some power and slow down.

Gybing with the Gennaker

04m32s

Gybing with the gennaker (spinnaker) is very easy if done correctly.  Make sure that you gybe slowly, you will first work on gybing the gennaker, followed by gybing the mainsail.

It is very important to ensure that the sheet that you will be releasing is free and clear of any kinks or other objects, it will need to run quickly and smoothly. A helpful trick is to drop the sheet down into the cabin to keep it clear of the deck.

Prepare the windward (loose) sheet by wrapping it around the winch and pulling in the slack.

Bare away very slowly so you are sailing directly downwind.

Once the gennaker is shadowed by the mainsail and looses its power, you can completely release the sheet from the winch. Because you have ensured the sheet is clear, it will run out smoothly.

Pull on the other sheet (already prepared on the winch).

Dragonfly Trimaran Sail Guide Downwind TMG Australia
Dragonfly Trimaran Sail Guide Downwind TMG Australia

Now the main comes over.  In low winds, the skipper can carefully hold the bulk of the mainsheet in their hand while gybing to help make sure it doesn’t catch on anything.

In higher winds, instead of your bare hands to prevent the main slamming over and making a big bang, simply just pull on the mainsheet until it’s firmly centred.  When the wind has caught the other side of the main – you have gybed – you can ease out the sheet again. 

Sometimes, you may just have to pull a little bit on with your hands to make the mainsail come all the way over.

Dragonfly Trimaran Sail Guide Downwind TMG Australia
Dragonfly Trimaran Sail Guide Downwind TMG Australia

Barberhaul Line

07m22s

On the Dragonfly 28, 32 and the 40 there is an extra trim option on the gennaker called a barberhaul line.  This allows the gennaker to be pulled out of the wind shadow of the main, to the windward side of the boat.  The barberhaul line runs all the way to a block on the bow. How to set up the barberhaul line (in this example, the gennaker is stowed on the port side).  Before raising the gennaker, make sure the gennaker sheets are slack and laying flat on the deck.  This will help prevent any tangles. Located forward of the trampoline, unclip the starboard barberhaul line, pass it infront of the forestay and attach it to the tack of the gennaker. If you would also like to use the port side, unclip the port barberhaul line and attach that to the tack of the gennaker too.  Keep the original tackline on.
Dragonfly Trimaran Sail Guide Downwind TMG Australia
Dragonfly Trimaran Sail Guide Downwind TMG Australia

With the typical setup for the gennaker in the standard position. 

This is how to pull it out to the windward side of the boat:

Ease off the tackline.  From the cockpit, start pulling the barberhaul out to the windward side of the boat.  Now the original tackline on the bowsprit is loose, and it’s just about easing off the sheet.

Now the gennaker is all the way to the windward side of the boat out of the shelter of the main, the gennaker is able to catch the wind on the windward side.  It’s very nice to use when you are sailing through a channel, or if you have to point directly to a waypoint dead downwind.

When sailing with the gennaker like this, you have a true wind angle of approximately 160 to 170 degrees.  To gybe with the gennaker, simply ease off the barberhaul and pull gennaker back to centre, then to the bowsprit.  Pull on the other sheet again, and head upwind a little bit to fill the gennaker.

Dragonfly Trimaran Sail Guide Downwind TMG Australia
Dragonfly Trimaran Sail Guide Downwind TMG Australia

Lowering the Gennaker

11m24sec 

When taking the (spinnaker) gennaker down it is important to do it the right way.

Being careful not to gybe, sail almost directly downwind so the spinnaker looses power and softens. You can pull on the spinnaker sheet to help move it into the windshadow behind the mainsail.  Release the tackline.

Ask you crew to untie the snuffer and pull on it to lower the gennaker sock, easily and in control behind the mainsail.  It should come down very easily.  Make sure to step aside so you don’t get caught beneath the sail.  Allow the gennaker halyard to be loose in the cockpit.  Open the hatch and then lower the gennaker (in its sock) directly into the boat.  Before closing the hatch, remove all lines including the halyard, sheets and tacklines before closing otherwise the hatch will leak.

Dragonfly Trimaran Sail Guide Downwind TMG Australia
Dragonfly Trimaran Sail Guide Downwind TMG Australia

Lowering the Gennaker

11m24sec 

When taking the (spinnaker) gennaker down it is important to do it the right way.

Being careful not to gybe, sail almost directly downwind so the spinnaker looses power and softens. You can pull on the spinnaker sheet to help move it into the windshadow behind the mainsail.  Release the tackline.

Ask you crew to untie the snuffer and pull on it to lower the gennaker sock, easily and in control behind the mainsail.  It should come down very easily.  Make sure to step aside so you don’t get caught beneath the sail.  Allow the gennaker halyard to be loose in the cockpit.  Open the hatch and then lower the gennaker (in its sock) directly into the boat.  Before closing the hatch, remove all lines including the halyard, sheets and tacklines before closing otherwise the hatch will leak.

Downwind Mainsail Trim

13m34s

Going downwind we also have the mainsail to focus on.  All Dragonfly Trimaran’s have preventers, one on the port side and one on the starboard side.

When sailing downwind, pull on the leeward preventer to pull down and control the ropes on the mainsail otherwise the mainsail would twist too much.  We don’t have a kicker like  on a monohull because it would never hold and the boom would break immediately. 

Sheet out the mainsail until it touches the side stay or shrouds, then pull on the preventer to keep your mainsail fully in control at all times going downwind.

Dragonfly Trimaran Sail Guide Downwind TMG Australia
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Butterfly with the Barberhaul System

14m40s

The barberhaul system also allows you to sail downwind and butterfly the genoa and mainsail.  You could also use this setup on a beam reach to help shape the genoa.  The barberhaul system means a spinnaker pole isn’t needed.

These are nice calm conditions, but if you have wavy conditions, the barberhaul system allows you to pull hard down on the sails, keeping them nicely controlled at all times.

This is a safe and fun way to go downwind – with the boom vang on the mainsail and the barberhaul system on the genoa… we are ready to sail downwind!

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