Light wind sails: spinnakers versus gennakers

Spinnakers are of two sorts: symmetrical or asymmetrical spinnakers?

Spinnakers are of two sorts:

  1. the familiar symmetrical spinnaker and
  2. the asymmetrical spinnaker or gennaker or MPS (multi-purpose spinnaker) with luff and leech


The symmetrical spinnaker comes in three shapes:

  1. allround, for courses between 90 and 160 degrees off the wind
  2. flat (reacher), for courses between 65 and 120 degrees
  3. full (runner), for courses between 130 and 180 degrees and for maximum speed downwind

It is widely known that spinnakers perform well downwind and at higher angles up to 60 degrees. A must for racers, spinnakers remain somewhat impopular among cruisers despite the fact that cruising boats, which are heavier, benefit from this sail most - especially in light winds.

How often does not a fresh breeze fade into a zephyr after a sunny day, just when the final miles of our trip remain to be travelled? Occasions like these can make sailing delightful. It is certainly regrettable that so often the engine awakens and the spinnaker is kept bagged. The reason for this is that symmetrical spinnakers have a reputation to be awkward to handle - 'a malevolent balloon'. But this argument no longer persuades, for a welcome introduction, the so-called spi-sock, simplifies handling considerably, in particular for short-handed crews. All that really remains to be done is to set the spinnaker pole.


Asymmetrical spinnakers began to be devised approximately twenty years ago. The idea was subsequently studied and popularised by numerous sailmakers, who attributed designations such as chute, blister, splister, ghoster and gennaker. At SailSelect we use the terms spinnaker and gennaker/ multi purpose spinnaker/MPS. Bearing in mind the variety available and the handling advantages that accompany useage of a sock, we believe that to go sailing with a spinnaker or gennaker is a wonderful experience noone needs let pass.

Gennakers, similarly, can be cut to three distinctive shapes and each of these is generally more versatile than any symmetrical spinnaker.


Radial Head Tri-radial Starcut

radiaal head spinnaker

tri-radiaal spinnakerstar cut spinnaker







A-symmetrische spinnakers (gennakers)

radiaal head gennakertri-radiaal gennakerstar cut gennaker


For the standard spinnaker (symmetrical), calculate: I x J x 1.44 = sail area

For the standard MPS (asymmetrical), calculate: I x J x 1.62 = sail area


Prices include three colours to choice. Naturally one can order additional colours. Utilise one of our design templates for demonstrating the scheme you desire.

radiale en tri-radiale spinnakers