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Story Contributors: Bob Meagher

THE HELIX FURLING GENNAKER: YOUR NEW FAVORITE CRUISING SAIL

Expert Bob Meagher explains why you should update your Inventory

In the old days, you had two options for making it to your destination in time for cocktail hour: start the engine, or go below to lug a bulky spinnaker up to the foredeck. Unless you’re on a long enough passage to justify all that work, the diesel will probably be your first choice.
Now a new gennaker gives you the best of both worlds. Regardless of whether you sail a monohull, multihull, or superyacht, I’m predicting it will become your new favorite cruising sail.

Benefits of the Helix Furling Gennaker

The Helix Furling Gennaker combines the power of an asymmetric spinnaker with the convenience of a Code Zero. Hoist it once and you have an easy-to-fly sail that will take you to that next harbor fast, even when your apparent wind angle is too far aft for your Code Zero reacher. Plus, this new gennaker is top-down furling, giving you a tight, neat furl that protects the sail.

How Does the Helix Furling Gennaker Compare to a Code Zero or Asymmetric Spinnaker?

The Helix Furling Gennaker is much deeper than a Code Zero. When the wind goes aft, release a little halyard or tackline and ease the sheet, and the luff will project out in front of a straight line between head and tack just like an asymmetric spinnaker. If the wind goes back forward again, just snug up the halyard or tack line to tighten the luff and reduce the sail’s depth.

helix furling gennaker

How Does the Furling Work for the Helix Furling Gennaker?

The advances North Sails has made in structured luff technology and sail design are the key to making this all-new sail type work. Unlike a traditional furling sail that wraps around a stiff and heavy torque cable, the fabric provides most of the structure. A pencil-thin proprietary Helix cable allows for top-down furling without the weight aloft of a traditional cable, and its flexibility eases both handling and stowage.

You can leave it up and furled like a Code Zero, and top-down furling makes it far more reliable than a typical bottom-up furl. When sails with large middles or low clews roll from the bottom up, the foot is sucked in first, dragging the clew forward and changing the sheet angle—which sometimes leaves the upper leech loose. Top-down Helix furling wraps securely, and the built-in suncover protects the sail from UV damage at rest (check out this video to see top-down Helix furling in action). When flying, the sail tacks in front of the genoa, but on a catamaran it can also fly from the windward hull, farther away from the mainsail’s wind shadow.

Make the Move to the Helix Furling Gennaker

From tight reaching to broad running angles, the Helix Furling Gennaker may replace both your Code Zero and your asymmetrical cruising spinnaker. This new cruising sail saves you storage space and money, and leaving it furled and ready to deploy saves aggravation. A single downwind sail you can keep rigged and ready to go, the Helix Furling Gennaker will get you to that next harbor even when the wind shifts. And that’s a lot more fun than starting the engine.

Questions about how the Helix Furling Gennaker will work on your boat? Contact your local North Sail expert to decide if this will turn into your favorite downwind cruising sail.

 

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Story Contributors

The Helix Furling Gennaker: Your New Favorite Cruising Sail headshot
Bob Meagher

Loft Manager, Sail Expert — Ft Lauderdale, Florida

Bob Meagher has built a career helping people enjoy their boats. Over two decades of sail consulting have led him to become one of America’s most experienced sail experts, especially in the growing market of cruising multihulls. He has led...