Anyway, I am digressing! Lately, what made using the gennaker on Cool Change such a great and pleasant experience with hugely reduced levels of anxiety is the absolute fantastic top down furler from Equiplite.
Not only is it extremely light and strong to carry our 152m2 gennaker on our 14 tonne vessel, it features simplicity in use and maintenance. Where other furlers are equipped with lots of stainless hardware, most if not all attachment points are of strong dyneema rope and very easy to use and replace if and when required.
Furthermore, the same furler can be used for a Code0 as well negating the need to buy a furler for each sail.
But what makes the top down furler so great is its relative ease of use and neat furl of a full bellied Gennaker!
To hoist the sail means simply to attach the furler to the bow (in our case the bowsprit), the head and swivel to the spinnaker halyard, and to run the working sheet to back block. Then just simply hoist it up, apply some tension to the halyard, and “pronto”, we are ready to release the gennaker.
We usually run at approximately 140 degrees when we release the furling line and start bringing in the working sheet which in turn will deploy the gennaker.
When cruising, we simply gybe by furling the gennaker first and then releasing it again after the gybe. This, we found, is the most stress-less way for short-handed sailing.
When it’s time to bring down the gennaker, we simply put the boat on autopilot. Erika operates the electric winch with the furling line attached to the electric winch (furling line runs all the way back to the cockpit), while I stand a bit forward to have a good look at the gennaker and control the furl via the working sheet.We do that at between 130 to 140 degrees. As the furling starts on the top of the gennaker, we wait untill furled approximately 1/3 down the anti-torsion rope, than Erika brings the boat on to the wind by another 10 degrees and we continue to furl the gennaker. We let a bit of the working sheet wrap around it for a few extra turns and “voila”, we’ve done and can lower the gennaker which by than is a nicely furled sausage and doesn’t take as much space as the old gennaker “in a sock affair” did.
While the top down furler has quite some benefits for racers, I feel that the added convenience, safety when short-handed, and ease of use of the gennaker, makes the Equiplite Top Down Furler the ideal addition for any cruising couple. For us, we now fly the gennaker a lot more and it is adding a new level of enjoyment to our sailing experience.