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Spinnaker Snuffer Systems

  • Posted on
  • By Tracie Van Houten of Tigerpages
Spinnaker Snuffer Systems

The Spinnaker Snuffer Systems
Shedding some light on Snuffers by Tracie Van Houten of Tigerpages
Comments provided by Greg Thomas of Hobie Cat USA

The Spinnaker Snuffer Systems
Shedding some light on Snuffers by Tracie Van Houten of Tigerpages
Comments provided by Greg Thomas of Hobie Cat USA

Things change fast in a year. While many American Sailors have been using the snuffer system for years, the Europeans have been reluctant to put it on their boats until very recently. At the Tiger Worlds last year (2001) in Italy there was not one boat that had any snuffer type system. However, this year at the F18 Worlds in Germany the majority of boats were using a snuffer system. Why the change? I think it came from the introduction of the spinnaker to the Olympic Tornado class and their change and development from the traditional style tramp bags to the snuffer type systems, and that change has carried over to most catamaran sailboats that carry a spinnaker (except for long distance racers). But because the snuffer type systems are so new there is a very rapid developmental period that is happening right now and nobody has decided what is the best snuffer system to use. Below are 2 examples of what are available right now, one system that's been around for awhile and one brand new system. Below we'll show some of the advantages and disadvantages of each system and a thought as to what is in the future for snuffers.

End of the pole (w/ sock):


  • uses bag/sock so is lighter than new fiberglass tube

  • spin tack is permanently attached to end of pole so no extra tack line to pull tack of spin out to end of pole

  • less expensive

  • able to hold spinnaker longer at leeward mark and actually take down spin while rounding mark and heading upwind


  • more windage having sock all the way out to end of pole

  • if something happens to spin it's difficult to fix on the water (can't reach end of pole from bow of boat)

This snuffer is an optional feature in the Tiger and costs $390. It includes the bag, bowl and all spinnaker hardware (sheets, halyards, bridles, etc.). Many North American Tiger sailors have gone with different style socks other than the blue stock sock that comes standard with the spinnaker kit simply because the fabric is not very giving and it tends to be smaller in width then other socks. (Note: Skip Elliott makes a great sock.)

Approximate weight of this snuffer system is 2.0 lbs. You can order this directly through your Hobie Dealer now. It is both Hobie class legal and F18 legal.


Mid Pole (w/ fiberglass tube):


  • if something does happen to spinnaker while on the water you can reach it to fix

  • does not absorb water


  • heavy (6 lbs.)

  • must take down spin while sailing downwind

  • need separate spin tack line or spin halyard attached to spin tack line to get spin tack to end of pole when launching

  • expensive

  • 3 holes/patches needed in spinnaker instead of 2

The Mid pole snuffer system is also an optional feature on the Tiger. Currently is not widely used in North America, but with a shipment expected for delivery in early September you might be seeing more of these around the race courses.

Approximate weight is 6 lbs and it is both Hobie class legal and F18 legal.

It will have an estimated price tag of $500, but please keep in mind this price is only an approximation. A final price will be posted as soon as it is made available. Hobie dealers should be able to start ordering the mid pole snuffer by late September 2002.


Some things to consider
There are many other snuffer options available which vary on the systems mentioned above. One of which uses a hoop (fiberglass or aluminum) that is attached to the pole in some fashion just in front of the bridle wires (mid-pole) and uses a bag that either stops at the front crossbar or continues on under the tramp depending on how many patches (2 or 3) you want to put in your spinnaker. An example of someone using this system is Jeff Alter who has welded the aluminum hoop that Hobie Cat provides to the side of his spinnaker pole and uses a bag that stops at the front of the crossbar. Another system uses an aluminum bowl which fits above the spin pole at the bridle wires which basically takes up the triangle space between the spinnaker pole and the bridle wires. It uses a bag that attaches to the hoop and starts off on top of the spinnaker pole and as it goes back, it gradually works its way to the side of the pole and then under the pole as it reaches the crossbar (no pictures available). Only time will tell which system will be the best, but I think some configuration of the mid-pole system will eventually work the best.

For reference, Hobie Tiger Class rule 12.2 on bowsprits.

12.2 Only bowsprits supplied by a HOBIE CAT COMPANY are class legal. The bowsprit shall be fixed on the longitudinal centre line of the boat as provided by the manufacturer. Supporting wires/lines may be shortened, lengthened, mounted and/or rigged in any manner. Additional blocks/cleats for spinnaker running gear and jib luff control as well as snuffer type systems may be mounted on the bowsprit. -revised for Hobie Tiger class racing as off July 20th, 2002.

The rule basically says that the spinnaker pole (only) must be supplied by Hobie Cat and that you can rig the spinnaker in any fashion.