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If the angle of the downwind leg requires an immediate jibe, you’ll need to learn how to do a jibe set. Jibe sets are more difficult than bear away sets, because they require carefully coordinated crew work. Also, you must wait until after the jibe to set the pole. Since the pole helps the spinnaker fill by holding it away from the boat and other sails, there are several details critical to a successful jibe set

Many crew have two tasks in the process, so practice is vital. To keep it simple, we’ll assume we’re approaching the mark on starboard, bearing away, and jibing to sail the next leg on a port broad reach.

Set Up (during final approach)

Hook up the spinnaker on the starboard side, as far forward as possible. Set up the pole on the port side of the forestay—since it will be used once you jibe to port—with topping lift, downhaul, and guy in place. Make sure the guy is not fouled. The topping lift can be rigged under the jib sheets. (Alternatively, if it is long enough, it can be rigged outboard of the jib to port.)

As you round the mark and bear away, start the hoist. At the same time, pull the sheet (on the starboard side) just far enough to separate the spinnaker clews.

Next, jibe. Make sure you jibe the jib and ease out the old (port) jib sheet; then raise the spinnaker pole. Once the pole is up, trim the guy square with the wind. As soon the spinnaker is fully hoisted, trim the sheet and drop the jib.


No Pole

You can execute a jibe set without rigging a pole. Sometimes it is faster and easier this way, particularly if the decision to jibe set was a late one, and you don’t have time to make sure the pole is hooked up cleanly.

In this variation the foredeck crew acts as the pole, hand holding the guy outboard until the mast crew can hook up and set the pole. This is not recommended in heavy air.

Tack Set

Like jibe sets, tack sets do not allow complete preparation before the set. When tacking right at the mark, the spinnaker pole cannot be set until the tack is complete.

Prepare the spinnaker as usual, and hook up the pole but do not raise it. As you round the mark, raise the pole and hoist the spinnaker simultaneously. Have the foredeck crew lift the pole while the guy trimmer tails the topping lift. Tension on the guy will prevent the pole from going up, so do not pull the guy until the pole is set. Meanwhile, the mast crew can jump the halyard while the pit crew tails.

Building speed with the main and jib as you hoist the spinnaker is critical to a successful tack set. Proper trim can prevent you being passed by boats carrying a full head of steam into the mark.