Asymmetric vs symmetric
First off, there are two types of spinnaker for dinghies – asymmetric and symmetric.
An asymmetric spinnaker is flown from a pole coming out from the bow of the boat, called a bowsprit. A symmetric spinnaker uses a spinnaker pole, which is a pole attached to the front of the mast to hold the sail out.
The clue is in the name with both of these sails; the symmetric spinnaker’s luff and leech are an even length, making it a symmetrical shape. The symmetric spinnaker sits directly in front of the boat and is thus ideal for running dead downwind.
The asymmetric has a longer leech than its luff, and sits to one side of the bow, making it great for reaches. Both spinnakers can be gybed with the boat, but they have different tactics for doing so.
Our dinghies with an asymmetric spinnaker include the RS 200, RS 500, RS 16 catamaran, Laser 2000, Laser Bahia, Dart 16, Vago, Topper Argo, Omega, Topaz 14CX, Topax 16CX, and Vibe. Our only dinghy with a symmetric spinnaker is the Wayfarer.