Top-down furling has a ton advantages over standard hoisting of asymmetrical spinnakers for shorthanded sailing and cruising.
Top-down furling systems were originally designed for hard-core ocean racers, but they can make ripping downwind even more accessible for cruising crews and shorthanded sailors too.
Most products on the market these days work the same general way: An asymmetrical spinnaker is attached to a torsional furling cable and hoisted aloft on a halyard. To furl, a deck-level sheave driven by a looped line spins the furling cable, winding the sail around the line starting at the head and working its way to the deck, giving it the name top-down furler.
Here are five reasons why top-down furling systems are awesome for asymmetrical spinnakers:
Makes spinnaker sailing as easy as deploying the genoa. In light winds, you can have the spinnaker hoisted and ready to go. As soon as you turn down, all you have to do is release the furling line, pull on the sheet, and voila! Instant gratification.
Foredeck union on strike? No problem. Since you can have the spinnaker rigged and ready to go before you even leave the dock, you can get the kite flying right from the cockpit. And in shifty situations when you’re sailing shorthanded or with inexperienced crew on board, a top-down furler makes flying a spinnaker a whole lot safer. “This is a great system for shorthanded sailors because you can deploy and furl the spinnaker from the safety of the cockpit,” says Scott Williman of Seldén Mast.
No more shrimping. Sail an angle as hot as you want, and douse at the last possible moment. Even with an inexperienced crew, there’s no chance of shrimping the kite. With a top-down furler, every douse will look like it was done by the pros. “You can sail a really hot angle to the wind with no risk of shrimping the kite,” says Ronstan’s Alan Prussia.
Takes the excitement out of gybing. An exciting gybe is often not a safe or fun gybe. Furl the sail partially or even fully before gybing and then easily re-deploy on the other side. A top-down furler limits the number of people you need to complete a gybe, and keeps the excitement in the sailing.
You’ll never have to run a tape again: With a top-down furler, dirty douses are a thing of the past. This system makes rigging and storing the kite a cinch too. At the end of the day, the spinnaker is in a tight, neat roll that’s easy to bag and stow.
Here are a couple great systems to check out, both of which can be used with any Quantum® asymmetrical spinnaker.
Ronstan Series 120: Ronstan’s Series 120 top-down furler is one of the most compact on the market but actual drum diameters are carefully matched to sail loads to make furling the sail faster and easier. High-load bearings allow this system to easily handle high-dynamic shock loads, and it auto ejects the line when deploying the sail.
Seldén GX 15: This system features a patented line lock terminal is much less bulky than other furlers on the market, and its sealed steel bearings make it virtually maintenance free. It also comes with an optional tack swivel adjuster that makes it possible to adjust the height of the tack while sailing.