Product of the Week: The Parasailor

Parasailors aloft
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Our product of the week, the parasailor, ideal for a short handed crew, was used on 33 sailing boats that took part in the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers at the end of last year.

The Atlantic Rally for Cruisers (ARC),is the biggest Atlantic regatta and one of the most famous regattas of all, now in its 27th year. In November last year 209 yachts recently started out on the ARC from Gran Canaria, heading for the Caribbean island of St.Lucia. 33 of them had already affixed the Parasailor at the spinnaker start, by the island’s capital, Las Palmas. Participants in the 2700 mile regatta can count for the most part on trade winds abaft and because the parasailor is so stable, many leave their Parasailor in place at night.

'We affixed our new Parasailor on the coast of Gran Canaria and sailed with a very steady course of 9 to 10 knots, reaching a top speed of 12.5 knots,' enthused the skipper of 'Victory Too' over the radio, also stating that the sail more than met with expectations.

In spite of the relaxed Parasailor sailing, the crews really got in the miles. Examples are the Farr 56, 'Victory Too', and the Oyster 56, 'Gwylan', who in the first day’s sailing announced they had covered 200 miles.

Of the multihulls among the five current leading boats, four were equipped with a Parasailor. The crew of the Privilege 495 'Mojomo' were delighted with their Parasailor in the special design of the Jolly Roger.

But if you've never used one, how does it work?

Parasailor diagram - wind profile
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Whe it was created, ISTEC's Parasailor was a breakthrough in sail design. The special features of the Parasailor mean that it can replace both traditional spinnakers and gennakers. It's the ideal downwind companion for short-handed sailors and those who want an easy sailing experience.

According to the manufacturer it can be used between 70 and 180 degrees to the wind. Relieving the pressure on the bow and the stabilising effect of the Parasailor improve the effect of the rudder and decrease the rudderthrows needed.

Operating Principle:
The sail is divided into an upper and a lower section which allows a profiled, three-dimensional, pressurefilled wing to be positioned into the air current of the resulting aperture. This wing was developed in a similar way to a paraglider or surf kite but using a special profile and it creates considerable forward motion (diagram: advance line) and lift (diagram: Bowlift). This results in a lifting force(Diagram:resulting force) on the spinnaker head, and clearly relieves the pressure on the bow. Because of the internal force, the wing part of the Parasailor acts as lateral support and stabilizes the leeches.

Advantages:
Can be set without use of a spinnaker pole
Pressurised wing performs like a soft batten preventing sail collapse
Aerodynamic lift from the paraglider type wing
Gust venting (slots in the sail act like as a pressure relief valve)
Reduces stress on rig
Smooth opening
Easy hoisting and lowering
Suppressed yawing and rolling
Great stability
Easy handling even for short handed crew

Greater Safety:
Rolling, yawing, pitching and broaching have been the main risks in sailing under spinnaker. Heavy seas and squally winds can result in even an experienced crew losing the spinnaker or, in the worst case, the whole rigging. The parasailor2 uses intelligent, patented technology to shift the sail's centre of pressure, which reduces this problem considerably.

Longer sail and rigging life:
An above-average sail and rigging life is ensured by the optimised sail cut and reinforcement, not to mention use of manufacturing standards found in the aviation industry, and materials specially designed for ISTEC and the Parasailor. The aperture of the Parasailor acts as a pressure relief valve and in gusts takes the surplus strength out of the sail. The increased lateral stability of the pressure-filled wing reduces considerably the collapse of the windward leeches and ensures a smooth reopening if necessary. The strains created both for the sail and also for the rigging and the boat structure are much less than with a traditional spinnaker.

Improved sailing comfort:
The lift of the wing relieves the pressure on the bow and reduces rolling, yawing and pitching. Despite higher speeds, this allows much more balanced steering of the boat and greater sailing comfort. The valve function of the Parasailor aperture dampens gusts as surplus wind can quickly escape but at the same time it creates lift. The ISTEC sock with the newly developed oval carbon-fibre funnel makes it considerably easier to hoist and lower the sail.

So it sounds like a great sail... are there any disadvantages? Well, yes. They are very expensive, but for those about to embark on long stretches of downwind sailing, don't discount them because of the expense.



About the manufacturer ISTEC:
Based in Landsberied, Germany, ISTEC is a company that delivers innovative sailing technologies. We are specialising in downwind sailing equipment, particularly downwind sails. Our flagship product is the Parasailor, the world's first wing-integrated spinnaker, designed especially for short-handed crews. We also offer the Parasail (a variant of the Parasailor), the snuffing system Easysnuffer, and sophisticated sail-bags. For more information, go to their www.istec.ag!website.

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