• 0 No item in your cart
  • The magazine

Current issue

  • All the issues
  • My magazines
  • Technical specifications
  • Multihull of the Year
  • Classified Ads
  • Destinations
  • Online store
  • All the magazines
  • Subscriptions
  • Accessories

Multihull of the year

Catamaran fundamentals : Downwind Sails: the Parasailor

The Parasailor? It’s a symmetrical spinnaker whose central part forms a paraglider. Particularly efficient and stable in any sudden wind, this is the sail of choice for transatlantic crossings… All hands on deck!

To make the most of your cat downwind, a good headsail is important…

Create a notification for Technical

We will keep you posted on new articles on this subject.

Avatar de Emmanuel van Deth

Published 01/10/2015

By Emmanuel van Deth

Published: nov. / dec. 2015


Choose the option that suits you best!


Issue #: 144

Published: November / December 2015

  • Price per issue - digital : 5.40€ Digital magazine
  • Access to Multihulls World digital archives Digital archives

No, the symmetrical spi isn’t dead! Sure, on board our multihulls gennakers sprout from the bowsprits, unfurling and furling in just a few seconds. Close-reaching or with the wind on the beam, they work very well… but not quite so well beyond a broad reach. And this is where the wind usually blows from on our big trips! So the symmetrical spi has lost none of its magic. The Parasailor is simply and evolution: the same sail, but integrating a paraglider wing in its upper section. The idea is to stabilize the sail by creating lift. And it works well on monohulls with their spinnaker poles! On board our multihulls, the bows enable us to position the tack upwind, which is even better. Let’s have a look at how it works! So how does it work? The upper third of the spi is opened by a gigantic kite wing. It’s a three-fold principle. It’s a question of helping the lift of the sail, of forcing it to spread out properly in a horizontal plane, and also to avoid it collapsing annoyingly (waves or other jolts), by evacuating the air, likely too much of which is stuck in the sail. That’s it for the theory, and it seems to be best adapted to “classic” monohulls. Heavier and generally slower downwind, they are frequently being pushed along when they sail. Not so in the case of multihulls, where the airflow over the spinnaker is almost always laminar, due to their higher speeds, and therefore their higher wind angle. One reason why the famous French sailor, Yves Parlier uses downwind sails with cell-construction… but oriented at 90° to the wing of our Parasailor and better adapted to our cruising multihulls. We need to go offshore, with a few miles of clear water to run in. All the crew gets the sail ready. For now it’s securely stowed in the forward cockpit of our test boat, a Lagoon. On each side, two lines are prepared. One acts as a guy, passing through a block fixed at the extremity of the bow. The other is the standard sheet. So that’s responsible for the horizontal trimming, which is to say the angle of the sail in relation to the wind. In practice, the four lines are never in use at the time, as you would see on a big monohull. To windward, the guy is under load, but the sheet remains slack. To leeward, the sheet is the main line for adjustment. The guy is more of a downhaul. The setup is very easy, even for a crew unfamiliar with downwind sails. So here there’s no need for either a pole or a bowsprit. That’s the first advantage of a Parasailor: the relatively minimal amount of hardware required. We put in a reef. The aim of this is to encourage the maximum lift out of the headsail. The sock is quickly hoisted, thanks to a continuous line, slowed slightly by the wing. The spi isn’t completely out yet, but is already beginning to fill. Despite the inevitable weight of the wing and its hangers - compared to a traditional spinnaker, the Parasailor shows an undeniable willingness to fill, and remain filled! This behavior is especially noticeable in a ...

Subscribe to Multihulls World and get exclusive benefits.

Most-read articles in the same category

Leopard 39

Bending on sails




Everything you need to know about trampolines

What readers think.

Post a comment

No comments to show.

MW #196 - July / Aug 2024

parasailor catamaran

X-Jet Extreme iAQUA


Subscribe now

The latest news from €3 / month

parasailor catamaran

Video of the month

Our latest YouTube hit!

parasailor catamaran

The Multihull of the Year

The 2024 results

parasailor catamaran

Classified ads

image description

Catamaran plan Lerouge Type 11

image description

2018 Fountaine Pajot MY 44

image description


Vous avez ajouté " " à vos favoris., vous avez supprimé " " de vos favoris., in order to add this article to your favorites, please sign in..

parasailor catamaran

  • Cruising Compass Media Advertising & Rates
  • Blue Water Sailing
  • Multihulls Today
  • Subscribe Today

Cruising Compass

The Advantages of a Parasailor, a Modified Symmetrical Spinnaker

Previously published in BWS by Pete Dubler.

About six months before leaving for full time cruising, we decided to spend some time practicing with our spinnaker. We had almost two years of sailing on what should have been our full suit of sails, most of which were then brand new: main, mizzen, 135 percent genoa, Code Zero, storm jib, storm trysail and spare Yankee foresail. We just had not had much opportunity to work with the spinnaker. It was a beautiful rainbow symmetrical in very good condition which had to be flown with a pole. Racers clearly we are not. We found the “pole dance” to be just a little bit taxing what with rigging all the guys and stays and then changing it all over to gybe the sail.

Upwind we were set with the choice of the jib or Code Zero. We could muster a reasonable boat speed with as little as six or seven knots of true wind at 50 to 70 degrees off the bow with the Code Zero.

Downwind, we could run jib ‘n jigger (jib and mizzen) from 60 to 150 degrees or in lighter winds, wing-on-wing from 150 to 180 degrees with our Forespar extending whisker pole holding the jib out to windward.  We had also rigged a sturdy preventer system for the main with half-inch lines led to the bow through 60-Series Garhauer blocks and back to clutches on the port and starboard toe rails at the cockpit. These could be quickly tied onto lines fastened to through-bolted padeyes at the aft of the main boom and hung on the sides of the boom forward to near the mast where hammock hooks held them with a loop of bungee cord through the eye splice of the line.

When flying a spinnaker, one of the common problems is planting the bow of the boat.  On the Parasailor, the wing provides lift which actually pulls the bow up. The wing also serves as a structural beam to support the sail and hold it open.  If the winds die for a moment, the sail does not collapse as quickly as a normal spinnaker.  And when the sail “pops” back open, it does so gently with little risk of blowing out the sail. The window in the sail acts like a safety valve, allowing air to pass through the sail when it is overpowered.  It is said that the sail can withstand 25 knot winds because of this.  (Try that with a normal spinnaker).

First we learned about the Easy-Snuffer™ (aka “sock”) that comes with the sail. It has several features that the sock of our prior spinnaker lacked.  First, there is a Velcro opening at the top of the snuffer to allow one to access the connector between the sail and the top of the snuffer. The normal connector is a large stainless link.  We upgraded ours to a large soft shackle to avoid any possible wear.  At the base of the snuffer is a very large fiberglass boot or funnel. On either side of this are pockets which hold snap clips to secure the port and starboard cringles at the foot of the sail.  This keeps the sock from rising on its own while you are setting up the sail and before you are ready to deploy it. Lastly, the sock has red and green stripes on it to correspond with the sides of the sail—there is after all a front and a back to this sail—the wing must be in the front, so keeping track of the port and starboard sides of the sail is very important, but easy with these stripes to reference. The sides of the sail also have these colored stripes with the foot having a white stripe.

On each side of the sail, the guy and sheet are both joined to a single snap shackle with a large bale that provides enough room for the two eye splices.  We set ours up with red and green sheets and black guys. The sheets run through the same blocks we use for the Code Zero, mounted in the aft corners of the boat, and back to our spinnaker winches. We cleat off the jib sheets and use the jib winches for the guys.

After the sock is hauled with a spinnaker halyard, in front of all other sails, the guy can be pre-set for the anticipated tack.  After unclipping the safety clips, and stowing them in the pockets provided in the sock which protect the sail from the clips, I hauled the snuffer line on the foredeck while Jill hauled a bit on the leeward sheet to help open the foot of the sail—then whoosh!—the sail deployed and the snuffer all but disappeared aloft.

Months and months passed before we had a chance to use the sail on our boat.  As we entered the Bahamas, we had more wind most days than we needed—reefed mains and jibs or jib ‘n jigger was the daily rigor. Finally, a day with light winds aft of the beam availed itself.  We had a run from Black Point to Lee Stocking with only 10 knots from the north forecast.  That day we never saw much more than 10 knots of true wind and our apparent angle was 150 to 160 degrees.  Having taken the Code Zero down the evening before at anchor, it took about 30 minutes to rig for the sail, running the sheets and guys and preparing the snuffer to be raised while underway. Once the Parasailor was up, we killed the engine and enjoyed five to seven knots of through the water boat speed with an apparent wind of about the same speed and at times, amazing us, even lower than the boat speed. The rest of the “fleet” motored that day on the same leg.

While the Parasailor is the most expensive sail on our boat and takes an additional investment for the necessary rigging (sheets, guys, blocks, shackles, splicing, Barber hauler, jib collar), and it may not be the sail seen most often flying on our boat, since it is so easy to deploy and retrieve and offers the safety of being able to handle unexpected increase in wind speed, we know we will get it out anytime we have light and moderate winds and plan to move downwind and we expect it will be the sail that makes for a great Pacific crossing.

Over the last several years we have watched Pete and Jill Dubler’s restoration and refit of their Pearson 424.  They now cruise aboard S/V Regina Oceani.

parasailor catamaran


You might also like.

parasailor catamaran

Problems with Paint Application Q & A

parasailor catamaran

Dinghy Security

parasailor catamaran

Winterizing Your Engine

parasailor catamaran

Read the Summer-Fall Edition of Blue Water Sailing

Read the fall 2023 edition of blue water sailing, recent posts.

parasailor catamaran

  • Introducing the Aluminum, Dutch-Built Hutting 46 Explorer for World Cruising

parasailor catamaran

  • Alberto is the First Named Storm of 2024 Hurricane Season

parasailor catamaran

  • The Moorings Opens New Charter Base in La Paz, Mexico

Please Visit Our Sponsor’s Webpages

parasailor catamaran

  • Media Advertising & Rates

Published by Blue Water Sailing Media, a division of Day Communications, Inc., Middletown, RI

Publisher & Editor: George Day

Blue Water Sailing Media publishes Blue Water Sailing magazine, Multihulls Today and other titles.

Cruising Compass Advertising Sales:

George Day, Newport, RI [email protected] 401-847-7612

  • The National Sailing Hall of Fame Announces the 12 Class of 2024 Inductees
  • How to Recover a Man Overboard?
  • Offshore Sailing School Contracts with Tartan Yachts to Built Colgate 26s
  • Is Camden Maine the Best Maine Harbor for Cruiser?

© 2014 Blue Water Media. All rights reserved. | Admin

parasailor catamaran

The next generation of downwind sailing

A downwind sail that won’t let you broach. A sailmaker that incorporates the latest aeronautical technology. A sail that can take you from a downwind run to 60° AWA. Revolutionary design that sets new standards in comfort, stability and performance.

New and improved for 2020, this next generation Parasailor has been updated and upgraded, allowing it to set new benchmarks for quality in downwind sailing.

It is an experience like no other.

parasailor catamaran

What is the Parasailor?

The Istec Parasailor is an innovative symmetrical spinnaker that has been designed specifically for sailing downwind. By integrating a unique paraglider-style wing and safety vents into a sail, the Parasailor has solved many of the drawbacks of using conventional spinnakers and downwind sailing.

Eliminate broaching

When sailing downwind, boats can broach when they experience an overload of force within the sail, usually caused by a sudden gust or unexpected increase in the wind strength. Trapped in the sail, the excess force is then transferred through the rig and into the hull, which can cause a sudden, violent change of course, pitching or rolling or in severe cases damage to the sail, boat or even causing a capsize.

The risk of broaching is one of the leading reasons why sailing downwind had always been such a challenge and often avoided.

The Parasailor effectively eliminates the risk of broaching by incorporating safety valves, which spill any excess wind gusts harmlessly out to sea.

Sailing under normal conditions is not negatively affected by the vents, due to the way the wing uses the wind that flows through it.

parasailor catamaran

Impeccable stability

The Parasailor’s most distinguishing feature is its aerofoil wing. It has two functions; firstly to give the sail (and boat) stability and secondly, to generate lift.

The wing is dual-skinned and contains dozens of small air pockets, which automatically inflate when the sail is filled by the wind. These inflating pockets make the wing semi-rigid and act like a soft batten across the sail, holding it open and giving it its shape.

This gives the Parasailor stability far in excess of any spinnaker or cruising chute. In fact it is so stable that you do not need a spinnaker pole to fly it. The wing is also fully automatic so doesn't require any intervention, or manual control from the crew.

Foresails have a tendency to push the bow lower in the water, because as they drive the boat forward it exerts a strong force higher than the boat’s centre of gravity. This causes your boat to pitch forward slightly and cause a number of issues, such as; reduced performance (as water resistance increases) and additional roll and pitch (as the boat is being pushed down into the waves, rather than being lifted and riding over them).

The Parasailor eradicates these problems.

As the sail is filled, air passes above and underneath the wing, which due to its shape, generates high and low pressure - much like the wing on an aircraft. This creates a lift which raises the bow in the water and opens up a number of very tangible advantages. Speed and performance noticeably increases, due to the bow having less resistance to overcome, and roll and pitch also dramatically decreases making for a far smoother, safer and more comfortable sail. This effect is particularly pronounced on catamarans.

parasailor catamaran

Easy to use

Because of its simplicity and stability, even inexperienced or short-handed crews can fly the Parasailor with ease and confidence. Launch and dowse the sail in a matter of moments using the exceptional EasySnuffer, which is provided as standard. Control of the Parasailor is then operated using normal sheets and guys, with no need for any additional deck furniture, such as a pole or a furler.

The wing is always trying to find the optimum sailing angle, so any trimming of the sheets is minimal. Indeed, the wing is so forgiving, that even if you come off the wind due to a course change or wind shift, the wing will help keep the sail open and give you an opportunity to correct your heading. Combined with the auto-pilot, the Parasailor is perfect for solo sailors and favoured by circumnavigators and adventurers, such as Jimmy Cornell.

parasailor catamaran

Incredible angles

The Parasailor is a symmetrical spinnaker, but it can be flown like an asymmetric too for greater flexibility. As a result it is possible to sail the Parasailor from a dead downwind run, to 60° AWA and beyond.

This allows you to make significant course changes without changing sails.

Gybing with the Parasailor is also far safer than with a spinnaker as there is no pole to worry about, only the sheets and guys (the Parasailor normally operates with a 2 or 4 line setup) which means everything can be done from the cockpit.

Should you push beyond the wind angle, the Parasailor will not collapse immediately as a spinnaker would. This is because the air pockets will still hold the sail open for a short period, allowing you to make a course correction and recover the wind.

parasailor catamaran

Attention to detail

Every part of the Parasailor has been made with the utmost care, using materials and production methods beyond any other sailmaker. Each sail is also bespoke and made to the specifications of each individual customer.

The sail, as well as the wing is made from aeronautical-grade fabric. This is not only extremely strong, but also very light (0.75oz per sq. foot) with exceptional resistance to UV damage. Each Parasailor is also constructed with the same care and attention to detail that goes into making paragliders and parachutes.

The edges of the Parasailor, as well as the edges of the EasySnuffer and the sail bag (both included as standard) are colour-coded, for easy reference when launching and dousing.

Further information on the EasySnuffer can be found here .

parasailor catamaran

Show your colours

The Parasailor is available as standard in a range of colours and designs, as shown below.

However if you are interested in a bespoke design, or would like to include a logo on your Parasailor then please contact us directly and we will do our best to accommodate your request.

parasailor catamaran

Blue Passion

parasailor catamaran

Red Passion

parasailor catamaran

Orange Passion

parasailor catamaran

Yellow Passion

parasailor catamaran

Green Passion

parasailor catamaran

Blue Vision

parasailor catamaran

Orange Vision

parasailor catamaran

Yellow Vision

parasailor catamaran

Green Vision

parasailor catamaran

Blue Emotion

parasailor catamaran

Red Emotion

parasailor catamaran

Orange Emotion

parasailor catamaran

Yellow Emotion

parasailor catamaran

Green Emotion

Parasailor or parasail. which is the right sail for you.

The Parasail is the little brother of the Parasailor and designed to work on smaller boats (less than 30' in length). The principle of the Parasail is the same as the Parasailor, and it works in exactly the same way. However, the wing of the Parasail is single-skinned and therefore does not contain the air pockets which provide additional stability.

Instead, it is the cut of the sail which provides the lift and stability instead. As a consequence the stability and lift of the sail is reduced somewhat, but because it is lighter, the sail is easier to use and will sail better in very light winds.

Which sail represents the best value for you depends entirely on your boat size and sailing ambitions, and we will do our best to help you decide which of these excellent sails suits you best.

parasailor catamaran

Your Account

Conventional spinnakers are notoriously difficult to handle. Requiring complicated tackle and wildly poles to stabilise them, as well as a well trained crew.

The Parasailor provides spinnaker-beating performance, with a unique level of control and stability, whilst being so simple to operate, that even single-handers can fly it with ease.

Parasailor is the choice of hundreds of blue water sailors and seen in sailing rallies the world over, however the benefits of this sail over a spinnaker and asymmetrics are so great that more and more weekend sailors are turning to Parasailor.

The Parasailor has two unique features over a conventional spinnaker;
firstly the wing - which stretches across the sail at its widest point, and secondly the vents in the sail which are positioned above and below the wing.  As the sail is filled, some of the pressure escapes through the vents, channelling airflow above and below the wing. This airflow creates high and low pressure on the surfaces of the wing, generating lift on the bow. The benefit of this lift is that there is less resistance of your movement through the water, increasing both your efficiency and performance.  Comfort is also enhanced as if the bow is not digging into the water, the pitch and yaw of the boat is reduced, giving everyone a comfortable and relaxed sail.

The second benefit of the wing is stability. As the wind fills the sail, so too it inflates the wing, turning it effectively into a soft batten. This creates a semi-rigid 'batten' across the widest point of the sail which helps prevent the Parasailor from collapsing and allowing you to sail closer to the wind. Indeed the Parasailor can fly quite happily at up to 60 degrees apparent wind.

In a word - Yes! Hoisting and lowering the Parasailor is easy to use with the Easysnuffer (included).  The colour-coded sleeves of the Easysnuffer prevents twisting and the Parasailor clews are held securely with snap hooks, fixed in pockets of the elliptically shaped snuffer mouth. The cruising bag (also included), compresses when in storage allowing Parasailor to be stored in surprisingly small spaces.

The Parasailor needs just four lines to fly it with, can be controlled entirely from the cockpit and has no need for a pole.

If you decide to purchase a Parasailor, we will come to your boat and give you a lesson in how to use the Parasailor, free of charge.

Of course! Each Parasailor is bespoke and made to order, so we can also include a logo or custom artwork on it. The best place for that is on the lower part of the sail (between the sail's foot and wing).

Please provide the artwork as vector graphics (examples include; .cdr | .eps | .ai | .pdf). Quotations for custom artwork available upon request.

Yes! The Parasailor has been approved by the Rating Office of the Royal Ocean Club for racing under the IRC rule, incurring no increase in IRC rating. A copy of the letter is available on request.

The two immediate effects of the wing are:

, increasing the Parasailor's resistance to collapse in shifting winds lifting moment, adding to the overall stability of the Parasailor and reducing load on the bow

​Consequently, the wing lets you handle your boat more easily because:

For more information - please visit our dedicated website

  • Terms & Conditions
  • New Account
  • View Basket
  • Sign In
  • Opening Hours
  • Leave a Review  

parasailor catamaran



& Mooring Fenders & Compensators Thrusters Capstans Sail Hardware Winches Pre-Made Rope ProductsRope AccessoriesSplicing Portlights Fastenings Deck Hardware Rail Mounting Shackles Cleaners & Polishes Paints & Varnishes Painting Preparation Fillers & EpoxyOils & LubricantsAnodes Ladders & Access Personal Safety Radar Reflectors Signalling Sea Anchors & Drogues Propulsion Power Management Lighting Instruments Galley HosePlumbing FittingsPumps Windsurfing Trolleys & Trailers Watersports Accessories

Sailing Pilar – Blue Dot Voyages

  • Caribbean Sailing
  • RETIREMENT Travels
  • LONG Sailing Voyages
  • Catamaran Yacht Info & Maintenance
  • South Carolina – Charleston, Kiawah, Seabrook & More
  • Georgia – Savannah, St. Simons, Jekyll, Cumberland & More
  • Cruising Guides – Sailing & Activities
  • Weekend Sailing
  • Scuba Diving Videos
  • Kiawah / Seabrook Island, SC
  • Trip Tracking with InReach and AIS
  • Learn to Sail
  • Catamaran Sailing Experience Charters
  • Watch Videos
  • View Photos
  • Facebook Posts @bluedotvoyages
  • - Caribbean Sailing
  • - RETIREMENT Travels
  • - LONG Sailing Voyages
  • - Catamaran Yacht Info & Maintenance
  • - South Carolina - Charleston, Kiawah, Seabrook & More
  • - Georgia - Savannah, St. Simons, Jekyll, Cumberland & More
  • - Cruising Guides - Sailing & Activities
  • - Weekend Sailing
  • - Scuba Diving Videos
  • - Kiawah / Seabrook Island, SC
  • - Trip Tracking with InReach and AIS
  • - Learn to Sail
  • - Catamaran Sailing Experience Charters
  • - Watch Videos
  • - View Photos
  • - Facebook Posts @bluedotvoyages

Rigging and Flying our Parasailor on our Catamaran

We know there are a lot of people out there who have questions about flying a parasailor on a catamaran. So, this video is for you!

We show you how we have setup our permanent rigging for our parasailor, (clutches, blocks and pad eyes) along with temporary block and tackle, the sheets and guys, and the optional Barber-Hauler and Violin. We probably don’t fly it perfectly, but so far this has worked well for us. (great alternative to a spinnaker or code zero sail)

We love sailing it because it truly is the quietest, smoothest riding sail we can fly. All you hear is the beautiful sound of the ocean lightly caressing your hulls. Plus people love to see us sailing it!

If you don’t have one, and are considering it, you can get more info at Parasailor.com . There is also an alternative by Oxley-Sails.com

If you have questions or comments, please contact us.

In the first video, we cover:

  • Rigging Setup for the Parasailor
  • Hoisting the Parasailor on Spinaker Sheet
  • Flying the Parasailor
  • Parasailor performance

In the second video, you will see our very first time sailing it.

Rigging and Flying our Parasailor

Yachting Monthly

  • Digital edition

Yachting Monthly cover

Downwind sails: How to pick the right one and fly it

Rachael Sprot

  • Rachael Sprot
  • December 15, 2022

Sailing downwind can be slow without extra canvas. Rachael Sprot explores extra sail options and lists the pros and cons of downwind sails

parasailor catamaran

The words ‘pink spinnaker’ are enough to send a chill down the spine of anyone who’s ever watched Cowes Week disaster footage. There’s Atalanta of Chester , which dis-masted when their fuchsia-coloured kite wrapped around the anchor of a tanker in August 2011. And who hasn’t seen the iconic image of Silk II as she nose-dived into the Solent in a 40-knot squall? It’s enough to put you off the big downwind sails for life.

But, like it or not, as you bear away through the wind angles you need additional downwind sails to maintain good passage speeds, rather than languishing under white canvas. The good news is that in the last two decades we’ve seen huge advances in sail design and sail handling technology. Asymmetrics, code sails, snuffers, furlers and laminates have all become much more accessible to us humble cruisers. But which of these sails would most suit you, your boat and your cruising plans?

I joined Mathias and Sybille Keim on board their brand new X5.6, Pure Fun, in Southampton to compare their gennaker, Code Zero and Parasailor spinnaker. Under the old racing rules a spinnaker was any sail where its width halfway up was 75% or more of the foot length.

A sail with a 10m foot length would need to be 7.5m across at the mid-height to count as a spinnaker. Anything below this was a headsail. These days, there’s a complex spectrum of sails which fall between a spinnaker and a genoa but few industry-wide definitions for these hybrids. Terms such as cruising chute, gennaker, asymmetric and reacher can all be used to describe the same sail. However, code sails, asymmetrics and the Parasailor are fairly distinct families.

parasailor catamaran

For racing, a Code Zero counts as a spinnaker as its ‘mid-girth’ is more than 75% of the foot length. Less than that and it’s a headsail. In cruising, definitions and measurements are less strict. Photo: Richard Langdon/Ocean Images

Downwind sails: Code Zero

At the closest end of the scale to the genoa is a code sail, sometimes known as a Code Zero. These are big reaching sails, which set independently of the forestay on a furler. They’re usually made of a laminate if they’re designed for close-reaching, and spinnaker-style medium weight nylon for larger sails and beamier angles.

Much of their power comes from the vast sail area, but shape is also important. There’s usually a semi-rigid cable in the luff which gives stiffness and allows the sail to be furled, although some ‘cableless’ sails are now in production.

Whilst the luff is straight, the leech is curved like a spinnaker which accelerates the airflow over the top of the mainsail. This creates power in light airs and should dramatically reduce motoring time. Generally used between 80 – 120° TWA (true wind angle), larger code sails can reach deeper in stronger winds and smaller, flatter sails can point higher. They’re particularly useful for boats with small foretriangles where a large genoa can’t be accommodated, especially boats with self-tacking jibs.

Rigging a Code Zero is straight-forward, although it may require modifications to the boat. Firstly, it needs to set forwards of the forestay for maximum airflow. This was easy on the X5.6, which has a sprit with an integral electric furler. Without this you might need to modify the bow roller or fit a removable sprit.

Most boats will use a manual furler with a continuous-line furling drum, with the line taken back to the cockpit. The drum remains attached to the sail, and is removed from the sprit when stowing. Code Zeros also require greater halyard tension to furl well, so their halyards often have a 2:1 purchase system to cope with the increased loads.

parasailor catamaran

A 2:1 halyard purchase is needed for sufficient tension, and to stop the top drum twisting when furling. Photo: Richard Langdon/Ocean Images

Unlike a spinnaker, the halyard should not articulate as that will stop it furling.

The sheet needs to be led well aft, probably to the same point as the spinnaker. A single sheet on the clew will suffice because you can’t gybe or tack a code sail due to its proximity to the forestay, so it needs furling for the manoeuvre. Since they’re used for reaching rather than beating or running this is rarely an issue.

The furled sail can be hoisted to windward or leeward of the headsail. With a 2:1 purchase system on the halyard the hoist is relatively easy, even on a big sail such as that of the X5.6, but there’s twice as much line to pull through so it can be slow going.

If the headsail is set, then hoisting it to windward works better as it will snake its way up the sail, pulling forwards and clear of the forestay once halyard tension is established. With the headsail furled a leeward hoist works better as it keeps the code sail clear of the genoa sheets and furling gear.

parasailor catamaran

You can hoist the Code Zero in harbour and leave up while sailing. Photo: Richard Langdon/Ocean Images

Setting and trimming

One advantage of the Code Zero is that it can be hoisted in port and left furled until you need it. The body of the furled sail can disrupt air flow over the headsail, as well as taking some tension off the forestay, reducing the headsail’s efficiency, but this might be preferable to foredeck work at sea.

Since the wind strength in the central Solent was a good Force 4, we were close to the top of the sail’s maximum wind speed. We found shelter in Stanswood Bay and the electric furler seamlessly opened the sail as we took in the sheet.

A magnificent ivory behemoth appeared. We instantly set off with purpose, making over 8kn in just 9kn of true wind. As we ventured further offshore the wind was stronger and we bore away until we had 10kn apparent just abaft the beam.

Article continues below…

A yacht sailing downwind at the start of the ARC

Downwind secrets of ocean sailors

How do you choose which sails to set or what course to steer, and can you stop the boat rolling?…

parasailor catamaran

Why twin headsails are best downwind

Crossing the Atlantic from Cape Verde to Barbados took us just 13 days in our 1998 Lagoon 410, Cushla Na…

Now the true wind was 13kn from 130°and we were making around 8knots. If we hadn’t had the code sail we’d have either had to cling on to a gennaker, or put up with much slower speeds under the headsail. It filled the gap between these two sails beautifully. We lost the impact of the sail at about 140° TWA, or 110°AWA where the wind dropped to only 7knots apparent. Even so we made 6knots through the water.

Unlike a roller-furling genoa it can’t be used partially rolled up, so it’s for light, stable winds only. The feeling of power was quite intoxicating but I was conscious that a moderate gust could have put serious loads through the rig.

On a manual furler it would be laborious to douse if the wind suddenly decided to pick up. As it was, the electric furler made short work of it; we simply bore off to blanket it behind the main, minimising the apparent wind speed, and eased the sheet as swiftly as possible without inducing too much flogging, which would work with a manual furler too.

Top tip: A Code Zero is the largest headsail you can have that doesn’t count as a spinnaker. It is defined as a sail where the mid-girth – the width of the sail from luff to leech – is no more than 75% the length of the foot. More than this and you’ve got an asymmetric spinnaker. While racing rules are irrelevant to cruisers, a light sail with a reasonable pointing angle can go a long way to keep you sailing in light airs.

parasailor catamaran

The sail may need a tug when you start hoisting the sock, but once the wind catches it, it will unfurl rapidly. Photo: Richard Langdon/Ocean Images

Downwind sails: Asymmetric

Asymmetric spinnaker are best used for deeper angles without the fluster of polework. They come in a huge range of shapes and sizes and can be optimised for reaching, running or somewhere in between.

Racing yachts would carry several different asymmetrics with a numbering system to differentiate between running and reaching sails and their designed wind strength. Cruising yachts tend to carry one all-purpose sail, optimised for the mid-range of wind angles and strength, often referred to as a gennaker.

The cut of a gennaker depends on whether it is to be used on a furler. Furling sails need a straighter luff which limits how much belly it can have. A furling sail will have a semi-rigid ‘torsion cable’ strung between the head and tack, but not usually sewn into the sail. This cable is attached to a top-down furling device which winds the sail away from the head.

Deep running sails can’t be used with a furler as they’re too big and baggy, although technology is improving all the time and this may soon become a reality.

parasailor catamaran

A barber hauler controls the sheeting angle and helps make the sail more stable. Photo: Richard Langdon/Ocean Images

Rigging and setting

Ideally, an asymmetric should be set on a bowsprit to give it clean air. However an inexpensive ‘tacker’ device negates the need for retro-fitting a sprit by tethering the sail’s tack to the forestay, but limits the amount of canvas that can be carried.

Pure Fun had a 225m2 all-purpose gennaker from Elvstrom in a snuffer sock with an inflatable collar (to minimise stowage space). It needs three lines to set: a tack line run to the bow, a pair of sheets run well aft and a halyard running through an articulating block on the mast crane. Ideally, the tack line is taken back to a cockpit winch or jammer so it can be adjusted underway.

Sails on furlers don’t have a tack line as they attach via the furler straight to the deck.

Even when contained by a snuffer or furler, a spinnaker should be handled with care and not left lying around where it might fill with air – unlike a Code Zero it can’t be rigged in harbour beforehand. The usual spinnaker handling rules still apply: remember to clip on the bag and don’t attach the halyard until you’re ready to hoist or else a big gust of wind could make it ‘live’.

Hoisting the sail in the snuffer is simple: connect the tack line and sheets to the sail and attach the halyard to the strong point on the snuffer. You’ll need to decide whether to set up for inside or outside gybes and lead the lazy sheet inside or outside the halyard. Most cruising boats with short sprits will find outside gybes easier as there’s limited clearance between the forestay and luff.

Keep the control lines on the snuffer tied down until you’re ready to hoist so that the spinnaker can’t take matters into its own hands. Unless it’s on a furler it should be hoisted to leeward like a symmetric kite.

As ever, a deep broad reach where the gennaker is partially shadowed by the main will keep the drama to a minimum when you unveil it. Once the halyard’s set, raising the snuffer is easy; it practically lifts itself once the sail starts to fill with air. Whoever’s on the snuffer lines needs good gloves as there’s no winch between you and the power of the kite.

When Pure Fun ’s bright yellow sail appeared from its chrysalis there was an exhilarating feeling of power. She took off and we scrambled to keep up with her.

Top tip: Woolling a spinnaker is an old technique which can come in handy if you want to re-hoist it. Simply work down the luff and leech of the sail, tying it up like a string of sausages every metre or so. You need to use a soft wool which will break easily; natural fibres are kindest on the sail and environment.

parasailor catamaran

Sailing deep angles can be tricky as the sail can be blanketed by the main. Photo: Richard Langdon/Ocean Images

Gennaker trim is a hybrid of spinnaker and genoa trim. Flatten it out and turn it into a conventional triangular sail for reaching. When running the sheet needs easing so that it comes out in front of the boat.

When racing the sheet is constantly in play to keep a slight curl on the luff. For cruising, ease the sail and find the curl then tweak it in.

As you bear away you want the sail to take the shape of a more conventional spinnaker and come out from behind the shadow of the main. A slight ease on the tack line can help, but beware of easing it too much, it makes the sail less stable as it sets further out to leeward.

Like a symmetric spinnaker, a barber hauler helps to bring the sheeting angle forwards and keep the leech closed on deeper angles. This is important in stronger winds to improve stability.

parasailor catamaran

Flatten the sail and ease the barber hauler to sail higher. Photo: Richard Langdon/Ocean Images

The key with any spinnaker flying is to keep the pressure in it. When you’re trying to make ground to leeward in light airs this is largely down to the helm: coming up to create some apparent wind in the lulls and bearing away when the pressure allows. It’s hard work to do manually and challenging for an autopilot so you’re unlikely to achieve the same performance promised by sail makers.

On Pure Fun we found the true wind angle range to be between 125° and 160°, which equated to 70°- 145° apparent.

Top Tip: A barber hauler is an adjustable line to control the sheeting angle of a spinnaker. This can easily be added by attaching a block or low friction rig roughly half way between the cockpit and the shrouds. A second block or ring, through which the spinnaker sheet passes, is attached to a line that runs through the turning block and back to a winch or cleat in the cockpit

Gybing a very large asymmetric is challenging. The outside lead of the sheet makes it prone to slipping beneath the sprit and catching around the anchor or pulpit. If this happens mid-gybe it’s likely that the sail will then wrap around the forestay.

The gennaker had a webbing keeper for the sheet to sit in and a ‘gybulator’ batten protruding from the luff to help prevent this but it was by no means foolproof. A batten taped to the end of the sprit, protruding a metre or so horizontally, would improve the odds. As always with teamwork in the cockpit there’s no substitute for practice and coordination.

Alternatively snuffing or furling the sail for the gybe will eliminate the risk of spaghetti.

Top Tip: An inside gybe is where, like a headsail, the body of the sail crosses the boat inside the luff, through the foretriangle. An outside gybe sees the body of the sail fly around the front of the boat with the clew passing forward of the luff.

parasailor catamaran

Off the wind, extra sail power is needed to keep the boat moving, and it’s a great feeling. Photo: Richard Langdon/Ocean Images

With any down-wind sail, Newton’s first law of sailing applies: what goes up must come down, and it usually comes down in a hurry. Although furlers and snuffers have simplified the sail handling they haven’t fully tamed the beast.

When it comes to dousing a large spinnaker the first thing you need is foresight to not leave it too late in the first place. After that a combination of good technique and a sense of determination will see you through.

On a boat as large as the X5.6 you need liberal amounts of both. Even the incredible hulk would find it nigh on impossible to snuff or furl a big sail without depowering it first. Bear away and blanket it behind the main, simultaneously giving a generous ease on the sheet. At this point the sail will collapse and the foredeck crew can heave on the snuffer or furling line. Taking the snuffer line around a cleat or a block gives purchase and control.

If your furler or snuffer fails, it’s important to know how to drop the sail without it. Releasing the tackline, pulling the sail through the letterbox of the mainsail and down the companionway hatch is the conventional method and would work if a snuffer fails.

If a furler fails it’s more difficult since the tack is fixed to the furler. In this instance try to blanket the sail behind the genoa and mainsail as best as possible, take a deep breath, channel your inner octopus and gather it down the fore hatch.

parasailor catamaran

Parasailors are designed to be flown pole free, and without the mainsail up for simple downwind cruising. Photo: Richard Langdon/Ocean Images

Downwind sails: Parasailor

From a distance a Parasailor looks like a spinnaker with a pressure relief valve, and crudely speaking that’s what it is, much like the vast J-Class spinnakers used to have cutouts in them to create airflow. But the paraglider wing inserted into the sail serves several purposes and isn’t just a vent. It’s designed to solve many of the challenges posed by conventional spinnakers so I was intrigued to see how the sail compared with the gennaker.

Neither Mathias, Sybille or I had ever sailed with one before, so we enlisted the help of Istec Parasailor trainer, Stuart Anderson, to help us learn the ropes. The sail itself was a 251m2 Istec Parasailor, which was bought second-hand.

parasailor catamaran

The wing stops the luff collapsing as much, and makes it more forgiving when it does. Photo: Richard Langdon/Ocean Images

The theory behind the sail is that the horizontal wing gives the sail structure, creates lift and allows air to pass through it, rather than around it. The wing acts like a ‘soft batten’, helping the sail take shape on a wide range of wind angles and without the need for a pole. It also makes the sail less likely to wrap by giving it more structure.

According to the designers, the upwards thrust of the wing reduces the tendency for the bow to be buried in a seaway and, as you’d expect, the wing aperture helps gusts to ‘vent’. Furthermore, the Parasailor sets best without the main, eliminating the threat posed by the boom and reducing the likelihood of a broach. Jimmy Cornell, world cruising guru, has said that he ‘would recommend it to anyone who is considering buying a new spinnaker’.

I have to confess I was somewhat sceptical as to whether the Parasailor would really live up to its bold claims and celebrity endorsement.

parasailor catamaran

It can take some effort to pull the snuffer over the bulk of the wing. Photo: Richard Langdon/Ocean Images

Like a gennaker, a Parasailor is controlled by a tack line led to the bow, and a sheet led well aft. It can be flown from a pole, but it isn’t necessary and most people are attracted to the simplicity of going pole-free. In order to gybe you need a lazy guy and lazy sheet, so, rather like a conventional spinnaker, there are four lines in total, plus a halyard.

Parasailors are nearly always used in combination with a snuffer, and Istec have designed its own with colour-coded clips to prevent the clews from twisting.

We set off on a broad reach down Southampton water with 14-knots true wind behind us. Stuart explained that when opening the snuffer it’s important to pause after the first few metres in order to pull on the tack line and bring the sail towards the bow. Once the tack was just off the bowsprit the snuffer could be fully hoisted and the working sheet taken up.

There was some resistance as the mouth of the snuffer negotiated the bulk of the wing, but after that the sock raised smoothly. We all found ourselves smiling when the sail popped out: there was no huge shock load on the sheet, the sail just took shape and started flying.

Once up it can be set much like a conventional spinnaker, flattening the sail using the sheet and tackline on a reach, and easing as you bear away. When running, the aim is to keep the clews the same height, so a barber hauler on the sheet is useful.

We set the sail for a comfortable broad reach with an apparent wind of 8 knots at 135° and a true wind of 14kn on 153º. Pure Fun made an easy 7 knots through the water. It was composed and comfortable. As we pushed her up through the wind angles we took in on the sheet, achieving 8 knots on 100° apparent before she started to wobble.

We sailed her as high as 80° AWA but there was a lot of lee helm without a mainsail up and a Force 4 felt like too much wind for the higher reaching angles. Performance on a deep run was sedate and predictable, we trundled along at 6 knots with the wind dead astern and even sailed slightly by the lee without complaint.

When we put her through an ‘accidental’ gybe the sail inverted but as soon as we gybed back again it instantly recovered its shape. It was impressively forgiving, if a little underwhelming speed wise. Stuart commented that the X5.6 should have had a sail which was 5-15% bigger, which would have improved performance.

parasailor catamaran

Gybing is easy with no pole or main, but still requires changing from working to lazy sheets. Photo: Richard Langdon/Ocean Images

Gybing involves rotating the whole sail around the boat much like you would a symmetric spinnaker. With four lines to manage it could be daunting short-handed, but the process can be done in stages, easing the working lines and taking up the lazy lines as the helm holds a course deep down wind. It was easier and less stressful than gybing the gennaker, partly as there’s no mainsail to manage.

On a benign day in the Solent we couldn’t test the Parasailor’s stabilising effect in swell but many people testify to this.

The primary difficulty we had was dousing it with the sock. Since there’s no mainsail up it’s hard to collapse the sail and depower it without letting the sheet completely off.

It took two of us to bring the sock down in 15-16knots. Admittedly the X5.6 is a big yacht, but we weren’t operating at the top of the sail’s wind range and the sail was slightly under-sized for the boat. I wondered what would happen when a squall hits. Leaving it up and hoping the vent works well might become the only option.

parasailor catamaran

Keep an eye on true wind speed. It’s easy to forget how windy it really is when running with the wind. Photo: Richard Langdon/Ocean Images

All three sails got us moving downwind when the mainsail and genoa lacked oomph and any of them would be an asset. I’m drawn to the thrills and spills of the big yellow gennaker which certainly helped Pure Fun live up to her namesake but does need careful handling and the right conditions.

The Code Zero was glorious, and at a time when we’re all trying to wean ourselves off hydro-carbons it’s a useful tool for very light airs.

The Parasailor was far more effective than I imagined: it’s kind on novice crew and is one of the few sails that works deep down-wind as well as on a reach. It scored full marks for versatility and temperament. However, it won’t deliver the same wow factor as a Code Zero or gennaker operating within their optimum range.

I asked Mathias and Sybille how they’d come to carry all three sails on board, when most people would have opted for either a Parasailor or the combination of Code Zero and gennaker. ‘I only chose two sails actually’ replied Mathias, ‘the gennaker and the Code Zero’. ‘The Parasailor was my choice,’ Sybille said, ‘I wanted it for the ARC’.

Choosing your sail wardrobe is just as personal as choosing your own outfits, and what works for one occasion won’t always suit another. Buying second-hand sails for a specific passage also makes perfect sense.

If you can only carry one, then the gennaker is a rewarding option for experienced sailors, while the Parasailor is a pragmatic choice for short-handed or novice crew. If you decide on a second sail, then the Code Zero compliments either of them well.

Top Tip: It is tempting to lean towards buying sail cloth of a heavier, rather than lighter weight, as it seems like it would last longer. In reality, most cruisers only fly spinnakers in light airs, and a heavier cloth would tend to collapse more and be harder to set.

A lightweight spinnaker will last as long, and be used more. Once the sail cloth does get old, it will become less stable, making the sail harder to set and trim, and more likely to induce rolling, so a new sail is easier to handle.

Enjoyed reading this?

A subscription to Yachting Monthly magazine costs around 40% less than the cover price .

Print and digital editions are available through Magazines Direct – where you can also find the latest deals .

YM is packed with information to help you get the most from your time on the water.

  • Take your seamanship to the next level with tips, advice and skills from our experts
  • Impartial in-depth reviews of the latest yachts and equipment
  • Cruising guides to help you reach those dream destinations

Follow us on Facebook , Twitter and Instagram.

Register | Lost your password?

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet:

24h / 365days

We offer support for our customers

Mon - Fri 8:00am - 5:00pm (GMT +1)

Get in touch

Cybersteel Inc. 376-293 City Road, Suite 600 San Francisco, CA 94102

Have any questions? +44 1234 567 890

Drop us a line [email protected]

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit.

Aenean commodo ligula eget dolor. Aenean massa. Cum sociis natoque penatibus et magnis dis parturient montes, nascetur ridiculus mus. Donec quam felis, ultricies nec.

You are using an outdated browser. Upgrade your browser today or install Google Chrome Frame to better experience this site.


You can use your Parasailor in many different ways. For example, you can use it with or without a spinnaker pole – the choice is yours. Find your favourite set-up.

With spinnaker pole

There are several ways you can rig the Parasail. Using a spinnaker pole – like you do with a regular spinnaker – is just one of many options.

Advantage: A rigid, fixed connection to the ship, which gives the sail additional stability.

Disadvantage: When jibing, someone has to be on the foredeck to operate the heavy and unwieldy spinnaker pole (depending on the size of the yacht). With a spinnaker pole, the initial costs are high.

parasailor catamaran

Without a spinnaker pole

It also works well without a spinnaker pole if two additional sheets are lead over the bow. It is supported by the dynamic-pressure wing of the Parasailor, which stabilises the sail and additionally spreads it centrally like a sail batten.

Advantage: Can be used from +70 degrees through to 180 until -70 degrees. Allows jibing without having to go to the foredeck (additional safety).

Disadvantage: The sail is slightly less stable in high waves than if a tacker or spinnaker pole is used.

With a tacker

You could also attach your Parasailor with the help of a tacker, just like you would with a gennaker.

Advantage: A rigid, fixed connection to the ship, which gives the sail additional stability. Much cheaper and easier to use than a spinnaker pole.

Disadvantage: Someone has to go to the foredeck when jibing.

Use: In high waves on long cruises, e.g. an Atlantic crossing.

parasailor catamaran

On your catamaran, the Parasailor can be handled excellently using 4 ropes. The bow tips of the two hulls serve as ideal attachment points for the kicking straps. This wide positioning of the straps creates even better trimming possibilities than with a monohull.

Select an option to continue

Further information

This text can be edit in the frontend module "1 Themesetting: Cookiebar" .Text, labels and radio buttons can be customized in the file mod_cookiebar.html5. Further information about which cookies are used in the theme Eclipse can be found in the Eclipse manual.

  • Hybrid wing
  • Colour designs
  • Easysnuffer PRO
  • Easysnuffer LITE
  • Request a quote
  • Find a dealer

Yachting World

  • Digital Edition

Yachting World cover

What downwind sails should you have for an Atlantic crossing?

  • Elaine Bunting
  • September 15, 2015

We survey a number of skippers in the Atlantic Rally for Cruisiers about their choice of downwind sails, the problems they had and what they might do differently. Elaine Bunting reports

parasailor catamaran

Photo: Tor Johnson

This is one of the biggest questions skippers face when equipping a yacht for bluewater sailing, yet in some ways the most difficult to answer. It’s tricky because there are so many variables: size of the budget; how many crew you have and the watch systems you intend to run; as well as whether or not you will be regatta racing afterwards.

To get an idea of the choices and their relative merits, we turned to the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers (ARC) and asked a small selection of skippers what sails they had taken, which they used and for how long, and if they would change anything in hindsight.

Even on a tradewinds passage, winds can go light and everyone in our survey had some kind of coloured downwind sail to use in softer winds, whether a gennaker, asymmetric or symmetric spinnaker, Parasailor or free-flying reaching sails. Everyone who took these sails used them at some point – though not always as much as they may have envisaged.

Deep downwind

A popular combination was a gennaker, or asymmetric spinnaker poled-out and run goosewinged with the mainsail. With the pole stabilised firmly with foreguy and afterguy, this is a good solution. El Mundo , an Oyster 56, for example, was equipped with a mainsail, yankee, gennaker set from her bowsprit on a top-down furler, and a symmetric spinnaker for deep downwind angles. The skipper noted: “Poled-out gennaker was very stable and low-maintenance for crew goose-winged, but needs careful watching in squalls.”

The skipper of Jo , a Sweden 42, commended the use of a pole for either gennaker or genoa, depending on wind and sea conditions, saying: “We particularly like the twin headsail combination for ease and manoeuvrability downwind.”

Broad reaching with poled-out headsail

Broad reaching with poled-out headsail

In either mode, this set-up allows crews to run fairly deep downwind. It is important to remember that most reasonably heavy-displacement cruising boats – and they will be at their heaviest when fully provisioned – will obtain quickest VMG by sailing deep downwind and not at hot angles. Without a pole, it is difficult to sail sufficiently deep and the chances of a wrap around the forestay increase.

Around half of the skippers in our survey noted that they took down spinnakers or gennakers at night and ran with main and genoa. “Headsail and mainsail only, one reef in main at nights and when windy,” noted one skipper. “Poled-out genoa at night,” said another. The reasons for this are simple: it can be difficult to spot squalls in the dark.

Radar helps identify these, but is not a failsafe against being taken unawares. And if squalls are frequent, skippers often feel that the extra few miles that might be gained overnight under spinnaker are not worth the hassle of getting off-watch crew up to help, and the risks involved in someone going on the foredeck at night.

But it was interesting to see from our survey that there was a split among those cruising. Some preferred a standard operating policy of putting a reef in the mainsail overnight and poling out their genoa, and rehoisting a spinnaker or gennaker during the day; others decided their tactics on the fly, depending on conditions.

The case for more sleep

A more conservative approach definitely makes sense for a double-handed crew, a smaller crew running single watches and those skippers who put a premium on sleep.

On this point, it is worth pointing out that if there happens to be equipment failure to grapple with (often the case) as well as multiple sail changes, skippers can end up being quite sleep-deprived. So it really is worth calculating where you want to set the ‘relaxed experienced versus fastest crossing time’ slider.

But, just as notably, crews who adopted a conservative approach at the beginning often gradually grew in confidence and began flying spinnakers at night. This was particularly true of those who had a Parasailor. These sails, with their characteristic envelope-shaped hole in the shoulder, are claimed to be able to handle increases in wind more safely by venting the excess and are sometimes used on longer passages with no white sails at all. They have a good representation on the ARC and over half our survey skippers had bought and used one.

Parasailor, with its slot to ease the pressure on the sail

Parasailor, with its slot to ease the pressure on the sail

“Parasailor was excellent, used eight days and was great downwind,” commented the skipper of Miss Liz II , a Hanse 505. “We gradually moved to main with one reef and Parasailor day and night as we got more confident,” he added.

“Used poled-out genoa at night and Parasailor day,” said the skipper of Morning Haze , a Hunter 410.


Others kept the sail for lighter winds. “At night had two reefs plus two genoas with two poles so we could simply furl in and the day same, but Parasailor in under 15 knots,” said the skipper of Kymothoe , a Hanse 470e.

“Used Parasailor 290 hours, main and genoa for 131 hours and main and gennaker 35 hours,” said the skipper of Ooroo 1 , a Lagoon 450 catamaran.

A point that two skippers who had Parasailors noted is that they would have preferred smaller sails. A claim about the Parasailor is that it can handle higher winds than conventional spinnakers and it is possible that skippers were tempted to opt for larger sails. Caution may be needed here.

But overall, reviews were good. There is excellent sales service in Las Palmas and an opportunity for crews to try out their Parasailors and get some expert instruction in how to set, use and retrieve them, which I suspect is a large ingredient in their success in the ARC.

Chafe is a culprit of many difficulties with coloured downwind sails. “Halyard of asymmetric chafed in two days,” said one skipper. Halyard chafe – and indeed sheet and guy chafe – can be a major problem on a long passage with such a large amount of rolling movement and is dealt with in more detail in the panel (right).

Another cause is gear failure. One skipper had a gennaker that saw only four hours’ use before it blew out. “Split in accidental gybe caused by autopilot failure,” he said.

Indeed, gear failure is the single biggest cause of sail damage, according to Andrew Bishop, managing director of the ARC. He is in Saint Lucia each year and sees the whole fleet arriving, and has this observation: “I think quite a lot of downwind sail damage is down to associated equipment failure, not necessarily the sail itself. We hear of track fittings going, spinnaker boom fittings, blocks used for sheets or guys and if you get a failure on those critical points it quite often leads to damage on the sail because crews can’t get it down in a hurry.”

So it is important to consider the spec of all fittings and blocks for the higher loads and snap reloads that sails and sheets are going to see on an ocean passage.

Sail damage

Sail damage is much more common on crossings, and he cautions: “I think in a windy year [damage happens] when people are caught unawares. You get comfortable with a sail configuration, especially in cruising mode, when you get it nice and set, even if it’s just wing and wing, and perhaps get lulled into a false sense of security. Then you only need a wave or a gust to catch you out and something goes.”

Running repairs with the sewing machine

Running repairs with the sewing machine

It would seem sensible, if you are flying a spinnaker, to be fully aware of the maximum true windspeed it is designed handle and respect that, and not leave getting it down too long. Your sailmaker can advise you of the parameters of the sail. Worth noting also is that two of our skippers, when commenting on what they would do differently next time, said that they’d have a sock to dowse a gennaker. “Use a sock instead of top-down furler for gennaker,” one wrote. Snuffers and socks generally work well, provided you’ve got the lines sorted out and in the right order.

Twin headsails, poled-out on each side, was used on one boat in our survey, but seems to have fallen out of favour as a downwind set-up. But an interesting question to ask is whether you really need a spinnaker at all. Sailing wing and wing with a poled-out headsail can work fine (see our Bluewater Sailing Techniques videos on www.yachtingworld.com ) And, one argument goes, if it goes really light, you can get quite a lot of diesel-powered miles in the right direction for the cost of a new sail.

The simple answer is that an Atlantic crossing with plain sails is not only perfectly possible, but how most of the cruising class sail for a majority of the time. Whether or not you really need to invest in one depends on the kind of sailing you will be doing afterwards.

Bishop comments: “For me the biggest thing is people should be using [a spinnaker] and practising before they set off before they go across the Atlantic. Lots of people are using on the ARC something they haven’t used much before as a crew and inexperience often means they don’t get full benefit from it.”

Sailing wing and wing with a poled-out headsail

Sailing wing and wing with a poled-out headsail

And while a proper downwind sail for deep downwind angles is a useful part of the sailing armoury and an essential if continuing onwards across the Pacific, how invaluable is it for the ARC alone?

“You don’t necessary need lots of equipment if you are just doing the ARC and then a couple of weeks in the Caribbean and going back,” explains Bishop. “Yes, there are things that are nice to have. For example, do you really need to go out and buy a special downwind sail if you are just doing the ARC? If you haven’t used it before Las Palmas and you’ve got to that point without it, is it really going to make that much difference for the 18 days that you are crossing?”

  • 1. Deep downwind
  • 2. New white sails
  • 3. Avoiding chafe


The spinnaker with a wing for safe and easy downwind sailing

  • About ISTEC
  • Easysnuffer

Watch the product video

Watch a customer video

Relaxed downwind power

Designed for short-handed crews

The Parasailor was developed especially for short-handed crews. It is very easy to handle and very well tempered. After all, what you want is a relaxed and drama-free atmosphere on board. Even more so when it's only your spouse and you.

No pole required

parasailor catamaran

There are several ways of rigging the Parasailor. While it is perfectly fine to use the spinnaker pole just like with a regular spinnaker, it is definitely not necessary to do that. The spreading moment of the wing suffices to conveniently use the Parasailor without a pole.


Good from 70° to 180° AWA

parasailor catamaran

Two sails in one! The Parasailor works from 70° to 180° apparent wind angle (AWA), that is, its covers the domains of both symmetric and asymmetric spinnakers taken together.

Works well on autopilot

parasailor catamaran

A match made in heaven: the Parasailor on autopilot. It's great to see how well they go together. The Parasailor, on the one hand, with its great self-trimming characteristics easily copes with the steering of the autopilot. On the other hand, the autopilot does not have to intervene much, as the Parasailor has almost no tendency to roll.

Free training included

parasailor catamaran

You don't have much experience in downwind sailing? Don't worry, your Parasailor dealer will happily help you get started. In fact, a free training session is included in the purchase price.

"I'd recommend the Parasailor to everyone"

parasailor catamaran

"You're not at the sheet and guy the whole time, something that really suits a lazy crew. I often set the Parasailor without the pole and just use it like a normal asymmetric. I'd recommend the Parasailor to anyone thinking about buying a new spinnaker."

Jimmy Cornell, sailing pioneer and author, UK

How the wing works

Wing Principle Diagram

A tailwind fills the sail and propels the yacht forward (advance). Part of the pressure escapes through the opening in the sail behind which the wing has been fitted in such a way that the air flows past above and below it. Thanks to the shape of the wing and the angle at which the air flows towards it (with the angle optimised for efficiency), the air on the surface of the wing accelerates faster than the air beneath it. Low pressure then forms on the surface which literally sucks the wing upwards and stabilises it (lift).

The wing lift achieves two essentials effects: Firstly the pressure on the bow is minimised. And secondly the propulsion is increased because the wing's optimised angle of efficiency is designed so that the loss of propulsion caused by the opening is completely compensated for.

Parasailor Standard Designs

Highly durable

parasailor catamaran

Each Parasailor is a highly durable product. Already its structure lets it cope with hard gusts much better than regular spinnakers. The horizontal opening is a true safety vent, allowing a sudden and strong increase in air pressure to exit the sail in a controlled manner. Furthermore, the multi-ply and double-stiched clews as well as the webbing and dacron tape reinforced leeches make the Parasailor a tough downwind sail.

Spotted in the wild

  • Privacy Policy

Sie verwenden einen veraltete Webbrowser. Aktualisieren Sie Ihre Version von Internet Explorer oder Installieren Sie einer modernen Webrowser um diese Site in vollen Umfang zu erleben.

Welcome to Parasailor The Americas.

Come and talk to us at the us boat show - annapolis october 14 - 18, 2021, parasailor america hq - st petersburg, fl., downwind sailing made easy..


  1. Parasailor

    parasailor catamaran

  2. Parasailor on Fountaine Pajot Eleuthera 60

    parasailor catamaran


    parasailor catamaran

  4. Antares Catamaran sailing with a Parasailor

    parasailor catamaran

  5. Using a Parasailor Spinnaker on a Catamaran

    parasailor catamaran

  6. Parasailor France au Salon de La Grande-Motte

    parasailor catamaran


  1. isstech Parasailor on the Atlantic



  4. Sailing with our Istec Parasailor! #sails #spinnaker #sailing #sailinglife #sailingfamily #carribean


  6. 38/ Le Parasailor


  1. Parasailor

    Each Parasailor is a highly durable product. Already its structure lets it cope with hard gusts much better than regular spinnakers. The horizontal opening is a true safety vent, allowing a sudden and strong increase in air pressure to exit the sail in a controlled manner. Furthermore, the multi-ply and double-stiched clews as well as the ...

  2. Catamaran fundamentals : Downwind Sails: the Parasailor

    To leeward, the sheet is the main line for adjustment. The guy is more of a downhaul. The setup is very easy, even for a crew unfamiliar with downwind sails. So here there's no need for either a pole or a bowsprit. That's the first advantage of a Parasailor: the relatively minimal amount of hardware required. We put in a reef.


    #CatamaranParasailor #ParasailorSetup #FlyingAParasailorWe know there are a lot of people out there who need some instruction flying their parasailor on a ca...

  4. Using a Parasailor Spinnaker on a Catamaran

    In this episode, learn how to rig, deploy and trim a parasailor on an Antares Catamaran.

  5. The Advantages of a Parasailor, a Modified Symmetrical Spinnaker

    The Parasailor is a symmetrical spinnaker that is deployed from a snuffer but with one unique feature— a wing that flies horizontally in front of the sail. This wing looks just like the high performance parachutes you might see ridden into football game halftime shows. To provide the wind to inflate this wing, the sail has a window cut all ...

  6. Parasailor

    The Parasailor effectively eliminates the risk of broaching by incorporating safety valves, which spill any excess wind gusts harmlessly out to sea. Sailing under normal conditions is not negatively affected by the vents, due to the way the wing uses the wind that flows through it. ... This effect is particularly pronounced on catamarans.

  7. Parasail

    Parasailor and Parasail compared "The Parasail stayed set and never collapsed once!" "I do find the Parasail a fantastic coastal cruising spinnaker: With winds of between 4 knots and 15 knots we had a novice at the helm for the 25 mile downwind leg and he couldn't steer a very straight course, especially when he was handed a beer.

  8. Parasailor

    The Parasailor provides spinnaker-beating performance, with a unique level of control and stability, whilst being so simple to operate, that even single-handers can fly it with ease. Parasailor is the choice of hundreds of blue water sailors and seen in sailing rallies the world over, however the benefits of this sail over a spinnaker and ...

  9. No pole required

    Supported by the dynamic pressure wing of the Parasailor, which stabilises the sail and additionally spreads the sail centrally like a batten. Advantage: Static connection to the vessel, which additionally stabilises the sail. ... Catamaran On a catamaran, the Parasailor can be used perfectly with 4 sheets. The bows of the two hulls serve as ...

  10. Rigging and Flying our Parasailor on our Catamaran

    So, this video is for you! We show you how we have setup our permanent rigging for our parasailor, (clutches, blocks and pad eyes) along with temporary block and tackle, the sheets and guys, and the optional Barber-Hauler and Violin. We probably don't fly it perfectly, but so far this has worked well for us. (great alternative to a spinnaker ...

  11. Downwind sails: How to pick the right one and fly it

    Downwind sails: Parasailor. From a distance a Parasailor looks like a spinnaker with a pressure relief valve, and crudely speaking that's what it is, much like the vast J-Class spinnakers used to have cutouts in them to create airflow. But the paraglider wing inserted into the sail serves several purposes and isn't just a vent.

  12. The best downwind sails: Options explained by over 200 experienced sailors

    The Parasailor was excellent, stable, including in gusts, and very easy to manage. ... Indeed the Canadians on their new Nautitech 44 Open June asked for "more detail on catamaran downwind ...

  13. Parasail on Catamaran

    Parasailing is safe for anyone; the weight limit is 200 to 450 lbs. Make sure to check with your catamaran's captain for the proper weight restrictions. Another consideration is the wind condition. You'll need to know the wind speed before starting your parasail. The Parasailor is designed to withstand winds up to 25 knots, but it's ...

  14. Produkte

    On your catamaran, the Parasailor can be handled excellently using 4 ropes. The bow tips of the two hulls serve as ideal attachment points for the kicking straps. This wide positioning of the straps creates even better trimming possibilities than with a monohull.

  15. What downwind sails for an Atlantic crossing

    "Used Parasailor 290 hours, main and genoa for 131 hours and main and gennaker 35 hours," said the skipper of Ooroo 1, a Lagoon 450 catamaran.

  16. Helia 44 Wingaker vs. Parasailor

    The Parasailor wing floats with lines top and below whereas the Wingaker is fixed at the top and open at the bottom of the wing element slot. What I do know is that Lothar has sailed using a Wingaker on almost every production catamaran available so his recommendation on sail size will be pretty accurate.

  17. Parasailor

    Each Parasailor is a highly durable product. Already its structure lets it cope with hard gusts much better than regular spinnakers. The horizontal opening is a true safety vent, allowing a sudden and strong increase in air pressure to exit the sail in a controlled manner.

  18. How to rig a Parasailor Spinnaker on a Catamaran

    This video will give you an idea of how we rigged a Parasailor on a Fountaine Pajot Eleuthera 60 Catamaran. All boats will be slightly different depending on...

  19. Parasailor Home

    Welcome to Parasailor The Americas. Come and talk to us at the US Boat Show - Annapolis October 14 - 18, 2021. Parasailor America HQ - St Petersburg, FL. Downwind Sailing made easy. Previous Next. Get a QUOTE for a New Generation Parasailor. Mandatory field Name * Mandatory field Email *

  20. Russian cruiser Moskva

    Moskva, formerly Slava, was a guided missile cruiser of the Russian Navy.Commissioned in 1983, she was the lead ship of the Project 1164 Atlant class, named after the city of Moscow.With a crew of 510, Moskva was the flagship of the Black Sea Fleet and the most powerful warship in the region. The cruiser was deployed during conflicts in Georgia (2008), Crimea (2014), and Syria (2015).

  21. Crocus City Hall attack

    On 22 March 2024, a terrorist attack which was carried out by the Islamic State - Khorasan Province (IS-KP or ISIS-K) occurred at the Crocus City Hall music venue in Krasnogorsk, Moscow Oblast, Russia.. The attack began at around 20:00 MSK (), shortly before the Russian band Picnic was scheduled to play a sold-out show at the venue. Four gunmen carried out a mass shooting, as well as ...

  22. A-135 anti-ballistic missile system

    The A-135 [5] ( NATO: ABM-4 Gorgon) is a Russian anti-ballistic missile system deployed around Moscow to intercept incoming warheads targeting the city or its surrounding areas. The system was designed in the Soviet Union and entered service in 1995. It is a successor to the previous A-35, and complies with the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty.