Editor’s Note: This article was written prior to widespread adoption of double spinnaker poles, which also utilizes separate sheets and guys. Therefore, some elements of this technique may be obsolete (twings for instance), but others remain very relevant and informative

I figured I’d pass along some dousing techniques to the fleet that Mike Martin had me attempting in San Fran last weekend. These steps have been refined by Team Tuesday. This technique works well for boats with spin socks where the skipper raises and lowers the kite (i.e. not Rondars or other boats where the crew can pull the kite down once it is started.

The principle around this maneuver is to be set for the upwind leg, with little or no adjustments necessary after rounding the leeward mark.

Here are the steps as I see them:

  1. Skipper sets up for the douse by handing the crew the pole launcher line, which is then tossed overboard so it runs free (throw in front of trap shock cord)
  2. Skipper heads down to balance boat, perhaps easing the main some.
  3. Crew unhooks and swings in while skipper starts pulling kite down.
  4. Crew sequence is as follows: Twings on (pull from middle or center handle), cunningham (if needed), outhaul, trap twings, centerboard (if not already down on run), blow pole (by this time the kite should be nearly in and the foot coming tight to the clew), grab vang on way out to wire.

The order really depends on how fast you are and how fast the kite goes down. You may need to move the pole up in the sequence if you are slow, or the skipper is fast o n the douse. It will also depend o n how your boat is set up and what you can reasonably reach quickly. Lastly, what you can pull on also depends o n when you douse relative to the mark (a late douse might prevent you from doing everything).

Mike likes the twings on immediately to help prevent the sheets from going over the bow. I believe the bow launcher cover also helps this, although it adds some friction to the douse.

Also, for those of you constantly getting the sheets over the bow, you may want to try over trimming the kite just prior to swinging in and letting go of the sheet. Another key is not blowing the pole until the foot comes nearly tight, and then holding the guy for a second to keep it from blowing over the bow.

So, as you can see, a proper douse is a coordinated event that takes a lot of practice to get right! I started to get in the rhythm but it will take some time in the boat to get the moves burned in my brain.

Good luck, and starting getting ready for spring sailing!