Best practices on launching, jibing, and dousing the spinnaker

So, I'll start...probably the least qualified, but hopefully some of you more experienced Scot sailors will chime in.  Plus, my boat is still surrounded by some snow and under tarp.  Just some basics to start the discussion, correct any or all of it:


Pole goes up on last tack unless it will be a jibe set, then the spinnaker goes up and fly it around the jibe and then set the pole.  Keep the aft portion of the pole low in the boat so as not to knock out the skipper.  Clip in guy, push pole out a bit, hook topping lift, push pole out a bit, clip on mast.  Now, I have always used the forward mounted halyard, just installing the clothes reel this spring, so I'd like to hear more on how the crew interacts on the aft halyard launch.  With the fwd halyard, the skpper calls for the launch and the crew hauls it up while the skipper works the sheet, guy, tiller, main and centerboard.  Where do you like to set the centerboard? I've heard rollers at the top of the hump is a good start, bring it all the way up to fair the cb seal and lose any debris on the centerboard.


Release (current) guy from hook, trim.  Jibe Main (see previous thread), trim.  Place new guy in hook (formerly sheet), trim. Release pole from mast. Release pole from sheet. Swing through. Attach pole to guy. Attach pole to mast. Trim. Done, 15 seconds or less ;)


Slack guy, pull foot of spinnaker til clews are together, release halyard, hand over hand the spinnaker into the turtle or under combing, secure halyard, detach pole from mast, guy and finally center eye, keep aft end low, and stow forward.  Centerboard down, secure sheets and topping lift.

A respectable source recently told a group of us when handling the pole, focus on one task at a time, keep your hands close to the work that needs to be done.  For example, don't be holding the pole in the middle while trying to attach the guy, hold it right at the guy end, clip it in and move on to the next task.

Phil came up with some good scenarios: 2 or 3 up differences?  Heavy vs. light air?  Rigging differences will play a major role as well.  I'm working towards the modern "radical racing" set-up on my older "basic racing" Scot.




CYC Fleet 24


How we do it

Here is how we do it.  


Prior to weather mark:  make a preliminary plan as to which jibe we are going to want to be on (bear away set or jibe set).  Choice will depend in part on wind angle and pressure on one side or the other of the course, and in part on the position and choices of the boats immediately around us.  Sometimes we don't decide until we are rounding the weather mark (or the offset if there is one), as we see what the boats immediately in front have chosen to do.  All other things being equal, I would rather be on the opposite jibe from the boats in front.  I certainly don't want to be trapped behind boats which are slower than me and hard to pass, especially if there are boats right behind me too.  

If there is an offset mark, then the short offset leg is a great time to raise the board.  The Scot sails well on a beam reach or close reach even with the board up 3/4. Try to train your crew to raise your board without coming in from the rail, if it's windy.  We have a WACO 360 on our board which helps in that respect.

Prior to the weather mark, free the chute halyard from the guy hook and cleat, where it has been cleated during the weather leg to help keep the chute in the turtle. Immediately prior to the weather mark, ease the vang to allow the boom to go out during the turn to leeward.

Setting:  focus on trimming the boat (heel to weather) and sails (keep that jib trimmed in to pull the bow down) around the weather mark for a speedy, efficient turn.  Immediately after the mark while all the other crews have their heads in the boat messing around with their chutes, you can often make some great moves either heading above them into the passing lane, or jibing away to the other jibe (as part of your mark rounding). Once you have achieved clear air on your preferred jibe with nobody threatening to roll you to windward, then set.

Our chute halyard is on a takeup reel and the chute is in a seat turtle.  If the chute is on the leeward side of the boat we might need to trim the main in a few inches and/or overtrim the jib in order that the chute doesn't get caught between the boom / jib sheet / vang / sidestay.  Except in super windy conditions, or when setting to a reach, I prefer a windward side set in order not to have to worry about that.

We do not try to set the pole prior to the weather mark.  To set the pole while beating means a lot of crew moving around / not focusing on sailing fast upwind / not hiking, and is slow. Also it takes away your flexibility to choose your set / side of the course at the last minute at the weather mark or offset mark.

Now the skipper cranks up the halyard super fast, then grabs the chute sheets, while steering with the crotchtiller method.  In heavy air the crew should be trimming in the chute sheets as the chute goes up in order to avoid hourglassing.  The skipper now flies the chute as efficiently as possible.  Usually the chute will fill right away.  (This is why I don't worry about the pole prior to the weather mark.  You are going to fill the chute right away even without the pole, so why hurry?)  The crew attaches the pole to the guy, then the topping lift, then the mast.  Skipper hands sheets to the crew, who flies the chute while skipper adjusts the board if necessary.  

Other sail adjustments (outhaul, cunningham) can be made during the offset leg, or after the chute is set..

Jibing from a run to a run:  

Crew hands chute sheets to skipper who flies the chute while again crotchtillering.  Heel boat to weather a little and bring the pole back a little so that most of the chute is on the weather side.  Crew releases leeward side jib sheet.  Crew releases guy from guy hook.  Crew releases pole from mast, then from guy.  Pole is allowed to hang horizontally from the topping lift. Crew jibes main by grabbing vang just under boom, pulling it across.  Simultaneously skipper steers a little upwind on the new jib and trims in the new guy to swing the chute around to the new weather side.  Crew pulls jib across to new leeward side to get it out of the air of the chute.  Crew attaches pole to new guy, then to mast, puts guy into guy hook, pushes pole forward.  Skipper hands chute sheets to crew, voila.

In light air the skipper should, prior to the jibe, ease both chute sheets to allow the chute to fly a little higher and hopefully float up there without collapsing during the jibe.  In heavy air, the sheets are kept trimmed down hard during the jibe to keep the chute depowered, to prevent the chute from swinging around and causing a broach.   


Make upwind sail adjustments to the outhaul and cunningham.  Then lower the board.  Approaching the leeward mark, crew hands sheets to skipper, crew removes pole from mast then removes topping lift then removes pole from guy.  Crew gently throws pole on floor, starboard side.  (Always on the same side so you know where to find it next time).    The skipper can fly the chute for a little while with no pole if there is still time.  Then crew stuffs chute, skipper releases halyard.  We prefer a windward side takedown, all other things being equal.  However if you know for sure which side you need the chute on for the next set, take in down on that side.  Crew grabs jib sheet, hikes, focuses on a good rounding with proper boat and sail trim (jib not in too much, main not luffing).  On the first upwind tack on which the crew is on the same side as the chute halyard, the halyard is placed in the guy hook / guy cleat in order to avoid accidentally pulling the chute out of the turtle with pressure from the chute halyard.

See no problem, its all simple and easy.



Jay, Thanks for the detailed description.

   Prior to the weather mark, free the chute halyard from the guy hook and cleat,...

Can you describe your spinnaker setup?  Where do you have your cleats and halyard termination?

Glenn Wesley

FS #5919 - DJ'

Glenn, our boat has the

Glenn, our boat has the standard Flying Scot factory Radical Racing Package set-up.  There is a guy hook mounted on the deck just forward of the shroud.  There is a cam cleat on a riser just behind the shroud, slightly inboard of the shround and angled slightly inwards.  The purpose of this cam cleat is to allow the crew to play the guy -- and cleat it when necessary -- with his windward arm, without having to use the rest of the under-deck sheeting system, which is too far aft and too low for the crew to use efficiently.  

Our chute halyard is tied to the head of the chute with approximately a six inch bowline knot, to allow the head to fly a little bit away from the mast.

When sailing upwind, to keep the chute halyard from flying around and pulling the chute out of the turtle, you take a loop of the chute halyard and run it under the guy hook, then cleat the loop through the guy cam cleat.  Before the weather mark pop it out of the cam cleat, otherwise you won't be able to raise the chute.  It's a little hard to describe but lots of Scot sailors do it and you can probably get someone to show it to you at the next regatta you attend.  Or maybe someone will post a picture.  

we used to keep the halyard

we used to keep the halyard in the port side guy hook too...then a friend started to produce this little gem...

at first I was very reluctant to spending $20 on it, but we got one.  Used it on the Melges, and the next day, every single one of our boats had one. 

It saves the crew from having to remember one more step during the spin set.

HERE IS OUR SET/GYBE/TAKE DOWN procedure for crew...(Download it Here)

Flying Scot Spinnaker

version 1.2


Setting the Spinnaker

  1. Release the Vang

  2. EASE the Jib Sheet

  3. Make sure the Starboard Spin Sheet is in the Guy Hook

  4. Attach the Starboard Spin Sheet to the Pole (now it’s a Guy)

  5. Attach the Topping Lift to the Pole

  6. Attach the Pole to the Mast.

  7. Yell “Pole Set!!!”

  8. Pull the spinnaker out and place on deck

  9. Push/Keep the Pole all the way to the Forestay

  10. Grab the spin trim sheet and fly the spinnaker



  1. Hand off the Spinnaker Guy and Sheet  to the Helm

  2. Release the Jib Sheet

  3. Put the Spin Sheet into the Guy Hook

  4. Yell “Gybing!!!”

  5. Gybe the Main

  6. Undo the Pole from the mast (twisting motion)

  7. Grab the new Guy Sheet and attach to the pole

  8. Attach the Pole to the Mast

  9. Release the old Guy from the Guy Hook

  10. Trim the Jib Sheet

  11. Take the Spinnaker Guy and Sheet from the Helm


Spinnaker Take-Down

  1. Tell the helm to “Board Down”

  2. Put the Spin Trim Sheet in the Guy Hook

  3. Take down the pole

  4. Get under the Jib Sheet

  5. Pull the bottom of the spinnaker until 3/4 of it is bunched up

  6. Yell “Halyard!!!”

  7. Pull the rest of the spin down.

  8. If on Starboard, we are going to Gybe (so DUCK!!!)

  9. ASAP start trimming the Jib Sheet

  10. Once we are on a good tack and away from the mark, organize the spinnaker, halyard, pole, and the sheets.

Spinnaker, jibe, douse, launch

I don't know what to do with the spin halyard take up reel. On 760 the halyard is on starboard and led aft and cleated on starboard aft end of the board trunk. The real is on port in th cuddy. It has about 40 feet of vinyl coated cable with a hook. I really don't see what to do with it.

i have wondered that I have it switched with the topper, but there is only one cam cleat near the cuddy and it seems the crew needs it to jump the pole and keep control.

please help!

thanks Jim Nighan

If you are going to use a

If you are going to use a spinnaker halyard take up reel (which I recommend highly), then rig it exactly as it comes from the factory on the Radical Racing Rig boats.  You could contact Flying Scot Inc. for instructions or a diagram, if there is nobody in your local fleet with a Radical Racing Rig boat which you can copy.

In the Radical Racing Rig, the chute halyard and take up reel are going to be on the port side, the opposite side from the centerboard winch reel and its associated lines and blocks.  There isn't really room for both rigs on the same side.   .

Spin Launch

Has anyone tried launching a starboard set from the starboard turtle?

Seems like it could be free flown until you know if you are jibing. This gets it up, if you have to jibe the pole isnt on yet.

When we try to free fly from the port with out the pole the chute doesnt fill and wont come around. Maybe we should put the pole on.......

To those commenting - thanks for all the help, excellent comments.

Jim Nighan, FS760

Skaneateles NY

Starboard Set

Nevermind.  I re-read your comment, and I did not answer your question.  My Bad.