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What is a Gennaker Sail?

The gennaker is a sail that falls between the genoa and the spinnaker. In fact, the name "gennaker" comes from a contraction of the names of the...
Published on September 28, 2018
Curso Gennaker

What is a Gennaker Sail?

The gennaker is a sail that falls between the genoa and the spinnaker. In fact, the name "gennaker" comes from a contraction of the names of the other two sails: GENoa + spinNAKER. It can also be referred to as an asymmetric spinnaker or MPS (multi-purpose spinnaker).

The gennaker is a relatively new sail that has been used since 1990, primarily in racing sailboats. It is designed to fill the wind angle gap between a genoa and a spinnaker. It is used for downwind sailing with the wind coming from the side. Its optimal effectiveness is typically achieved with wind angles between 110º and 130º, but depending on the specific design of the gennaker, it can also perform well on reaching courses, enhancing the boat's thrust and speed.

Sailing with a Gennaker in Light Wind

Compared to the spinnaker, the other classic sail used for downwind sailing, the gennaker is an easier sail to set up, with a luff and a leech. It is attached to the bow or the bowsprit without the need for a spinnaker pole, making handling during maneuvers much simpler than with a spinnaker. It is the ideal sail when you have a small crew. Due to its geometry, the gennaker is less likely to collapse than a spinnaker, making it a more stable downwind sail. It is typically used in light to moderate winds ranging from 8 to 20 knots.

Setting a Gennaker with a Sock

The gennaker sail is often much more affordable than a spinnaker, and in many sailboats, it's the primary sail for downwind sailing. It is typically made of nylon, slightly smaller than a spinnaker, and has an area roughly double that of the genoa. There are two types of gennakers, those with a sock (a cover for the sail) and those without. The version with a sock makes deploying and retracting the sail much easier.

When handling the gennaker, it's essential to avoid reversing the tack with the halyard, so you should pay close attention to the color-coding on the tack and halyard. While there is no spinnaker pole, you will find another line to control, which is the gennaker sheet. Tacking maneuvers will be simpler than with a spinnaker since you don't need to switch the pole's tack. However, before executing the maneuver, it's important to ensure that the sheets are free and knot-free since the maneuver needs to be executed quickly and simultaneously with the mainsail.


At Neptuno, we offer Gennaker Courses. The goal for students is to learn how to rig, maneuver, and trim this downwind sail, enabling them to enjoy the versatility and convenience it offers during sailing!

Price of the 4 hour course (in Spanish)

  • Curso Gennaker

  • 89 €

    • 4h Gennaker Sailing
  • Reservar

Boat Date Schedule Available places
We're sorry! At the moment we do not have available dates.

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