The modern asymmetrical headsail, in all its design variation, is a very popular and versatile sail. Today, a great many cruisers and club racers carry them. The sail in its original form was set off the long sprits of Aussie 18 skiffs to power their little rocket ships to impressive speeds, and from there, the sails were adopted to the planing sport boats and again set from sprits. In time, displacement hull cruising boat owners began to see the benefits of easy handling during off wind sailing, and the overall popularity of asymmetricals took off.
The important thing to note here is that the typical cruiser or cruiser/racer is not a planing sport boat, and the hull form does not reach downwind like as such. Thus, for better performance and sailing downwind angles of greater than approximately 135 degrees apparent, and even dead downwind, the right solution is setting a light weight fixed or telescoping pole. This way, the real versatility of these sails is achieved.
While these sails were originally marketed to cruisers and cruiser/racers as “pole less” sails, today there is a changing trend toward the use of poles to round out the full value of the asymmetrical.
Forespar has a family of fixed and telescopic poles in aluminum and carbon fiber. If a boat owner makes a choice of a fixed pole, using a pole 15% over the boat’s J dimension works well. Poles can be stowed on deck, on the mast or on the lifeline and Forespar offers gear to do it all.