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Adjustable Spinnaker Pole Cars

Greg Hartlmeier—Senior Engineer Special Projects

Spinnaker shape can be matched to sailing conditions by adjusting pole height. Raising the outboard end of the pole causes the sail to have a fuller, more powerful shape. Most useful on a broad reach. Lowering the outboard end of the pole causes the sail to have a flatter, less powerful shape. Most useful on a tight reach, especially in heavy wind. 

The inboard end of the spinnaker pole should move in unison with the outboard end. A ball bearing spinnaker pole car makes it possible to adjust the car, even on a heavy air reach. 

Harken ball bearing spinnaker pole cars move so freely their control systems require special thought. If the pole gets cocked with one end substantially higher than the other, the crew could lose control and the car could slide to the top or bottom of the track at dangerous speeds, making the foredeck a hard hat zone. 

The control system should incorporate a continuous line: cheek blocks, cam cleats and the correct purchase. A boat like a J/35 uses a 3189 Midrange ball bearing spinnaker pole car. A 2:1 purchase system would be ideal. There are two 2650 blocks 40 mm fixed Carbo blocks on the car, a 2644 Carbo cheek block and a 073 eyestrap at the top of the track. Don't forget to use E2700 heavy-duty end stops. 

In use, the crew utilizes the braking ability of the ratchet block to control the raising and lowering of the spinnaker pole car.

Harken has ball bearing spinnaker pole cars and control systems for all sizes of boats.

These include:

  • 3188: Small Boat CB/ring
  • 1645: Midrange CB/toggle
  • 1646: Midrange CB/bell
  • 1647: Midrange CG/toggle
  • 3189: Midrange CB/ring
  • 3097: Big Boat CB/bell
  • 3098: Big Boat CB/toggle
  • 3099: Big Boat CB/toggle

Harken spinnaker pole cars are based on recirculating ball bearing travelers to permit adjustment under any load. They roll freely on low profile traveler track to allow the crew to adjust the inboard pole end for optimal sail shape on all points of sail.

Small Boat and Midrange cars feature rings for end-for-end jibing. Midrange and Big Boat cars accept two popular toggle studs or the Harken bell end fittings. Custom cars are also available. 

The 3188 Small Boat spinnaker pole car fits masthead boats to 9.7 m (32 ft) and fractionally rigged boats up to one tonners.

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