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  • #4637

    I’ve been reading about the balls system of spinaker control, and wondered if it can be used on a mark one woodie, bearing in mind that it has no chute and the sheet/guy has to go round the forestay and back to the bag when the sail is not in use?

    To allow the sail to be bagged, would mean the barber hauler/twinning line moving forward with the ball.


    @Roger wrote:

    To allow the sail to be bagged, would mean the barber hauler/twinning line moving forward with the ball.

    Yes, and that is why I have removed the balls from my sheets. Often it is easier to leave the barber hauler set and ready for the next spi- run.

    And also, the balls system doesn’t work!
    It works only for one pole height setting. When you lower the pole it will still touch the fore stay, and that is what the balls system is supposed to prevent.
    Or you set it up for a low pole position but then you cannot put the pole far enough forward when it is set to a high position.
    Some will argue you can set the maximum forward pole position by tweaking the barberhauler, but that only adds unnecessary complexity to the system.
    My preferred set-up is a barberhauler system without balls.

    Colin Parkstone

    Its a good system but not for the hand launch boats.
    I hand launch, even though I have a Mk4, and when we launch we try and get the guy into the pole and set it to the mast before the bear off.
    The spi halyard and the leeward twin line are released and then as the spi halyard is pulled to raise the spi the important thing for the crew to do is pull on the guy so as to bring the clew to the pole and so bring the sail under control !!!
    If the wind is light or low and your confidant that your in control of the boat for the wind, we sometimes cleat the sheet when its stowed and so when the halyard and clew are pulled together by crew and helm the sail goes up and fills!
    Very fast set but your need to be ready for a full sail with no flogging clew or halyard.


    Thank’s Gents for your replies, I shall now remove my balls, ouch!

    The Flying Fifteens at our club mark the sheet/guy’s reaching position with a short length of whipping or thread, I think I shall adopt this system.




    Sorry for taking a while to reply. I’ve used the balls system on a +S for a few years and wouldn’t have done without it. The advantage is that the the pole sets for a reach and the crew can keep their head out of the boat rather than rummaging round setting the guy. The disadvantage is that it requires a little bit more preparation before the hoist. This can be done at the end of the previous beat.

    The trick for making it work is to pull the corner of the spinnaker which is attached to the guy-to-be (the tack) out of the bag before the hoist. About a metre would be enough. Tighten the windward twinning line and then attach the pole to the guy and engage the pole ramp. As the helmsman hoists the spinnaker, the crew can push the pole out and attach it to the mast. This can all be done before the spinnaker fills or rags (depending upon whether you have the sheet precleated or not), so the crew isn’t standing at the mast for any length of time, struggling to engage the pole.

    I haven’t seen any video of Wayfarers using this method. However, there is plenty of footage on YouTube of GP14’s doing just this. Even if you use a chute with a MkIV, you can still preset the pole with the balls system by pulling a bit of the spinnaker tack out of the chute. Merlin Rockets do this, and again plenty of footage can be found on YouTube. These classes are different to the Wayfarer, but the principle is the same in all; just the timings and detail differ.

    Anyway, I’m not posting this to say that the balls system is the only way. Of course it isn’t, but it worked for us. I know plenty of Wayfarer crews who have adopted Colin’s method or a variation of it, with success.


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