New developments might revolutionize offwind sailing

Published on April 1st, 2014

(April 1, 2014) – After dominating the east coast handicap circuit with their Carkeek 40 Spookie, owners Steve and Heidi Benjamin have been testing revisions on how to keep their 2012 boat competitive.

At Charleston Race Week, look for Spookie to be trialing a new downwind sail that could revolutionize offwind performance for all boats. Heidi says they have been developing a symmetric sail that is deployed when wind angles are greater than 120 degrees. The weather clew (tack) of the sail is attached to an articulating pole that pivots at the mast. The pole is removed from the mast when the sail is not in use.

“The symmetric spinnaker will allow us to sail much deeper angles than ever before,” explained Steve. “In fact, if you pivot the pole back far enough we can even sail by the lee. This is something we could never do with our fixed prod. We are very excited about this new development. Plus, by eliminating all the excessive boat maneuvering that the asymmetric sail required, we are looking forward to sipping beers on downwind legs.”

When pressed for further developments, Heidi admitted there was also work being done on a sister sail that will further exploit the benefits of the symmetric spinnaker.

“Benj was fiddling with the sail design program and accidentally placed both the tack and clew of the sail on the leeward side of the boat,” Heidi explained. “However, the computer models revealed that it was possible to fly an additional sail to leeward of the symmetric spinnaker when sailing dead downwind.”

Benj is optimistic that this sail could be an even bigger step forward than the symmetric spinnaker. “How can an extra sail that flys downwind be bad?”

The Spookie team refers to this extra sail as a “blooper”, a clear reference to its origin.

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