Stus-List Downwind sailing- Whisker pole length and height

Michael Brown mike at
Wed Mar 20 18:24:31 EDT 2019

I race handicapped by PHRF Lake Ontario which has no rating adjustment for whisker pole length.  I picked
up a Forespar Line Control which goes out to 22', a fair bit for a 30' boat.

In light air, 4 knots TWS, setting the sails perpendicular to the wind works as well as anything else I have tried.
That has the pole low at both ends, barely above the lifelines.

At a higher wind speed the common advise is to trim the genoa so the wind flows around it as opposed to
it being a barn door. That will bring the pole back so it is more perpendicular to the wind, usually the
inboard end up the mast a bit and the leach pointing into the wind. A bit like trimming a spinnaker.

Forespar has a diagram here:

Not having the leech bouncing around helps. For me that means adjusting the inboard end to get enough
down pressure.

For a genoa with a 21' LP I will use all 22' of whisker pole in light air and about 18' in moderate air.
In heavier air I switch to the spin pole which is 14.5' ( oversized and I take a penalty ). I can tell it is not optimal but works OK.

Michael Brown
C&C 30-1

Sent: Wednesday, March 20, 2019 12:42 PM 
Cc: David Knecht <davidaknecht at> 

We race non-spinnaker class and a few years ago I got an extendable whisker pole for the genoa.  I am unsure about optimal settings for pole height and length.   I suspect it is sometimes suboptimal because I have noticed some boats able to carry the genoa poled out at much closer angles than I have achieved.  Presumably the optimal pole angle is near perpendicular to the apparent wind.  It seems that extending the pole flattens the sail to some extent but I suspect it is more complicated than that.  Height I have no idea.  Any general rules of thumb? 
 Related to this, the VMG chart I have from C&C  has optimal VMG downwind apparent angle of about 140-145? true.  Are those numbers +spinnaker, -spinnaker standard or -spinnaker wing on wing with whisker pole?  Thanks- Dave 
S/V Aries 
1990 C&C 34+ 
New London, CT 
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