OCSC Sailing School

Spinnaker 101A

Description / Overview | Course Schedule

OCSC's "Introduction to Performance Sailing" course

OCSC's "Introduction to Performance Sailing" course

Previously known as Performance 1, OCSC's Spinnaker 101A course is a comprehensive introduction to both spinnaker sailing as well as upwind boat handling. As opposed to the race course where you specialize in only one skill, this course will rotate you through the four positions: helm, pole-guy, sheeter, and foredeck. This way, you will truly have a complete understanding of all that is needed in order to "fly the chute".

There is very little more exciting than spinnaker sailing on San Francisco Bay, especially downwind to Berkeley at the end of the day. It is the highlight of any day sail. Spinnaker 101A gives you the skills you'll need to "fly the chute" safely in moderate conditions.

Topics Covered:

  • Basic spinnaker flying theory
  • Proper set-up techniques
  • The art of packing a spinnaker in its turtle
  • Safe spinnaker pole handling on the foredeck
  • Crew Coordination on all maneuvers (communications, timing and commands)
  • Hoisting, gybing and dousing the spinnaker
  • Proper trim of the spinnaker (loving the curl)
  • Driving techniques to keep the boat under the spinnaker
  • Broach prevention and ecovery techniques
  • Performance upwind sail trim
  • Proper crew positions for racing trim, upwind and downwind

Successful completion prepares you to:

  • Charter J/24's or Olson 25's with the spinnaker with OCSC membership in up to 18 knots (enough to plane!)
  • Serve as a competent member of a crew in casual racing with spinnakers on mid-sized keelboats like J/24's, Olson 25's, Santa Cruzes and Express 27's.
  • Sail faster upwind while sailing the J/24 in its performance mode and, when your "chute" is up, feel a rush you might not have experienced on a sailboat before.
  • Get your friends together, create a spinnaker flying team and refine your skills in preparation for the racing preparatory course, Spinnaker 101B.

Good to know:

  • Spinnaker 101A has two time schedules. In the months of April through October, we start at 8 am to take advantage of the favorable morning winds. October through March we begin class at 9 am.
  • This is a 16 hour course, from 8 - 4 or 9 - 5, so be prepared for the longer day.
  • This is a slightly more athletic course than Basic Cruising, so be sure to get some advice from one of our instructors or club managers about what will happen during the weekend.
  • While we introduce some basic racing information for those who plan to develop their racing skills, the main intent of this course is to build solid, generic spinnaker handling, boat speed and spinnaker safety skills.
  • Sailing gloves are always important, but in spinnaker courses they are absolutely necessary.
  • The course often plans to take its lunch with it to maximize sailing time, so, if being aboard all day without a shore break won't work for you, simply inform the office staff and they will ensure you have a mid-day shore break.


Class Information


  • Member: $521.25
  • Retail: $695

# of students:

  • 4 maximum



  • Two Days
    Saturday & Sunday
    8 am - 4 pm (Apr-Oct)
    9 am - 5 pm (Nov-Mar)


Basic Cruising certification or equivalent experience.

(We also recommend sufficient skippering experience to fully enjoy this course.)



May 2017

Symm. Spinnaker J/24

  1. Sat, 13th 8:00am Day 1
  2. Sun, 14th 8:00am Day 2

August 2017

Symm. Spinnaker J/24

  1. Sat, 5th 8:00am Day 1
  2. Sun, 6th 8:00am Day 2

October 2017

Symm. Spinnaker J/24

  1. Sat, 7th 8:00am Day 1
  2. Sun, 8th 8:00am Day 2