Testing Times on Kitty Cat

Jimmy Cornell is sailing from St Martin to the Strictly Sail Miami Boat Show aboard Kitty Cat, an Outremer 49 catamaran. Here is the third of several reports that he is sending along the way.
If you missed them, you will find his earlier reports below:
Report 1- Delivering a Strictly Sailing Cat to Miami
Report 2- A Good Old-Fashioned Spinnaker Wrap

Kitty Cat & Parasailor
Kitty Cat & Parasailor

A clear horizon promised another a spectacular sunset so I suggested to the others to come on deck and watch the sun as the day before I had caught the green flash and there seemed do be a good chance of catching this rare phenomenon again. And so it was… As the upper limb of the bright orange ball of fire kissed the horizon, there was an unmistakable green flash, which we all saw very clearly. The most excited was Jean Pierre, who had sailed thousands of miles all over the world and had never experienced “le rayon vert”. He admitted that until now he had been convinced that it was a figment of imagination. No longer.

The main reason why I joined this voyage was the opportunity to experience a long offshore passage on a cruising catamaran. However, as I am always keen to try to kill more that one bird with one stone, I had decided to use this opportunity to test the behavior and performance of a Parasailor on a catamaran.

Parasailor full
Parasailor full

I had used this type of spinnaker extensively on my last round the world voyage, and believe that it is the ideal downwind sail on a cruising boat. Fortunately I managed to persuade the manufacturers to lend me one of their sails that matched Kitty Cat’s measurements.

The main features of the Parasailor are the wide slot that runs from side to side about one third down from the top, and a wing across the lower part of that slot. Once up, the Parasailor acts just like a normal tri-radial spinnaker but soon it becomes apparent that this is only partially true as the slot and wing help the Parasailor stay full even in light winds.

I had used it on many occasions in as little as 5 knots of true wind, and, every time it looked like collapsing, the low pressure caused by the wing on the forward body of the sail managed to keep it full.

Equally attractive on a cruising boat is the Parasailor’s behaviour in strong winds, such as in a squall. In such situations, with the wing streaming ahead, the slot opens widely, almost visibly spilling the wind. Unfortunately we were unable to test the latter in this occasion as, after the previous day’s spinnaker wrap, skipper Jean Pierre was reluctant to push our luck and insisted on taking the Parasailor down in stronger winds.

10 kts speed 6 apparent
10 kts speed 6 apparent

Initially Jean Pierre had made it clear that he was not at all convinced of the Parasailor’s advantages over a normal spinnaker But when the Parasailor started coming into its own, staying full in very light apparent winds, with the boat surfing in as little as 10 knots of true wind, he turned to me and said “ OK, Jimmy, I now see your point.

Just to be sure, I took some photos of the instruments which were now consistently showing that we were sailing faster than the apparent wind.

It had been a beautiful day sailing effortlessly in perfect trade wind conditions and topped by a green flash… what more can any sailor ask for?

Jimmy Cornell

Next report: A Radical Change of Plan

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