Off-the-shelf Downwind Sails for the Multihull Sailor
Greg Newton - Rolly Tasker Sails Australia
For many years when the multihull sailor needed a downwind sail the immediate thought was to have a Symmetrical Spinnaker made to suit. It was often a time-consuming, expensive process, necessitating lots of additional gear including sheets, braces, tweakers and so on. Further, it was complex to use for the majority of cruising sailors, in most cases flying the tack off the windward bow or even with a spinnaker pole. And its use was generally restricted to wind angles of around 130-180°.
About 26 years ago I wrote an article about how to cruise on your racing cat. The times they are a changing … Not all multihulls are designed for speed or competitiveness. If your catamaran has the comforts of home, lots of space and a gentle character at sea then why bother racing? It may not be designed to sail very well into the wind. Lack of daggerboards will do that. Sometimes no matter how hard you trim the headsail and adjust the mainsail foot the tell tails on your sails might never flow smoothly. That is if you have telltails. And it just doesn’t seem right to run fresh water into the salty sea to lighten the payload by a few hundred kilograms just to go a tenth of a knot faster.