Spinnakers. Those big beautiful, brightly coloured sails puffed out in front of sailboats as they ghost their way down the lake… Yes, the image conjures up in my mind the ultimate in sailing experience and so of course, I was determined to add an asymmetrical spinnaker to the sail locker of my Mana 24, “Prairie Mermaid”.

I wanted to play a part in creating the sail but I do not have the necessary design skills. I turned to SailRite for their design expertise. Their sail maker, Jeff Frank presented me with a lay-out and asked me for my choice of colours. After considering the various choices and combinations, I chose red and yellow and placed my order. The kit soon arrived.

Instructions were very easy to understand. With my partner’s trusty old Kenmore, quickly I was assembling the first of three sections of the sail. Once each one had been completed, they in turn were sewn together. After hand sewing leather to protect the corners, I had a finished sail.

In addition to the sail, I had ordered a launching sock kit. The sock required a bit more thought and measuring but it also came together well.

The sail went into a bag and then waited until June for the its first trial.

My sailing friend, Rick, joined me for the day. We were blessed with light winds perfect for the task at hand. Things went very well and I was very pleased with the result. Check out the video account of the day.

Following examples I had found online, this is the equipment I used to fly the sail. Tack lines run to blocks attached with soft shackles to both port and starboard bows, allowing the sail to be moved from side to side to suit wind directions. These lines are tied off to cleats installed on the forward cabin tops. Sheets lead from the clew to blocks attached to stern posts with soft shackles and tie off to cleats installed on aft cabin tops.

In spite of my inexperience but with a successful initial trial under my belt, I began our annual weeklong camping/sailing event, the Elbow Run 2019, flying the asymmetrical within the first half hour of the start. My crew mate, Russell, came aboard as a rookie sailor and by the end of the Run, the two of us were taking turns setting and adjusting the new sail as if we both knew what we were doing!

During the Run, the spinnaker proved to be an invaluable asset to the boat. There were four WindRider 17 trimarans in our group. On the days when winds were light, the WindRiders, being much lighter, were able to move ahead of us until we hoisted the spinnaker and then we took over the lead. Brent was the exception on his WR17 – he was also sporting a spinnaker. Brent is a very talented sailor and he was consistently impossible to catch.

Final assessment? Unlike my experiment with the deck tent, the asymmetrical spinnaker is a great success. The sock makes launching it stress free. The sail turns a light wind day into a pleasurable time. I am very happy with the addition.