Parasailor

by Adrian on September 3, 2013

I’m pleased to report that our new Parasailor is performing as expected and promises to be an invaluable addition to the sail wardrobe.
DCIM100GOPROWe ordered it in a fit of madness in January, picked it up in May and have so far used it three times in anger over the summer.

It does what it says on the (very expensive) tin – it provides us with a easy to use, versatile and safe downwind sailing solution. It is very resilient to wind changes caused by rolling in light airs (the wing really does stop the sail collapsing) and although we have only taken it up to 20knots true wind it is able to handle a wide range of conditions. It is easy to set up and can be controlled entirely from the cockpit. Theres a lot of sail to snuff, but so far we haven’t had any problems.

On a recent sail from Poole to Portsmouth, we put it up without the mainsail and managed a respectable 6 knots throught the water in 10 to 12 knots of true wind from about 170deg behind us.

One surprising feature is that with the floating tacks and their associated guys led aft, the luff can be tensioned and the sheet hauled in so it acts like a huge Gennaker for winds on the beam. This makes for great sailing, as its nice to know you can gybe it and easily make large course corrections if required.

At over £7000 this sail was a real investment – but is going to be a great sail for crossing oceans and those long downwind passages along the trades.

The only downside is when packed away in its excellent compression bag it won’t fit through our sail locker hatch! This is a bit of a pain, and is due to the size of the large fibreglass (and good quality) snuffer, which is slightly larger than a traditional spinnaker snuffer as it has to smoothly capture, compress and snuff the wing into the sock on its way down. It will fit through when out of the bag (ie without all the rest of the sail packed on top of it), so we just feed the snuffer through the hatch then stuff the rest of the sock into the locker after it.

Not much we can do about that – but other Allures owners take heed, you may want to ask the factory about a larger hatch – although since it fits in-between the collision bulkhead and the anchor locker, it don’t think theres much room for change.

I must thank Stuart Anderson from Seateach, the UK’s Parasailor distributor for excellent service.

Seateach

Although they’re bloomin’ expensive, I would recommend one of these sails if like us, you need a versatile and easy to use downwind solution to eat up the miles and don’t want to faff around with spinnakers and poles.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Steve Neal February 1, 2015 at 14:48

Hi Adrian,

I think we may have met at the Southampton boat show. Were you there showing your boat a few years ago? I’ve also just noticed that we almost crossed paths along the Portuguese west coast this summer.

I wanted to ask how you’ve been getting on with the Parasailor. We’re considering getting one ourselves and, as you noted, they’re not cheap. I’ve only seen good things written about them but would be interested to know what your thoughts are having lived with it for a while now?

Cheers, Steve.

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Adrian February 5, 2015 at 16:36

Steve, yes, that was us at Southampton boat show. We finally made it away.

The Parasailor is a very good sail and it is great for long passages. We used it a lot across the Atlantic.

It works extremely well in the 10-20 knot (true) wind range at angles from dead downwind to 120° either side, and is the best there is as it is extremely forgiving, the wing really keeps it flying even in rolly seas.

The big dilemma we had was to fly it with a reefed main up or on its own. We have tried both. Having the main up helps a bit when snuffing it as by coming around to about 140° the main can blanket it a bit, although we snuffed it fine without the main.

It depends on your comfort level. We would drop it at 20knts true and at that speed (with the engine on to keep apparent speed down) could do it either way. Having the main up (albeit reefed with 2 reefs) meant we’d be a bit more confident and push the wind a bit more.

The main doesn’t help much otherwise, as the Parasailor does fine on its own giving great speeds (7-8 knots in 12-15 knots of wind from behind). I’d say unless you have to turn corners and will need to harden up around land, on balance I’d recommend flying it alone.

Squalls are the main problem, as we didn’t want to be hit by one and damage the sail, so in squally periods we didn’t fly the Parasailor.

The question is what do you do when the wind gets up and you drop the Parasailor? The factory answer is to roll out the genny as the wind will likely be strong by then. This mostly works, except you can’t keep the same wind angle and genny alone in a rolly sea isn’t an ideal sail for long periods as in the swell on its own it is hard to keep out.

The one mistake we made in our boat preparations was thinking the Parasailor would suffice as our only downwind sail so we didn’t bother getting a pole. Big mistake! You still need a pole for when the wind is strong to hold the genny/staysail out. We couldn’t do this, so struggled in the swell and had to compromise our speed by running off angle.

In squally periods when the gradient wind was 16+ knots of true or when the wind was 20+ knots, we dropped the Parasailor and used whites. Without a pole we couldn’t use the classic main and polled out genny so I think in all this cost us about a day on our crossing.

In summary, yep a great sail for the arsenal. It is big and there’s definitely a few tricks to learn to get it flying perfectly at different wind angles and in different sea states, but it is very forgiving and gives great boat speed and a smooth ride.

Adrian

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