Definition of spinnaker in US English:



  • A large three-cornered sail, typically bulging when full, set forward of the mainsail of a yacht when running before the wind.

    • ‘The large panniers at the back held the main sail and the spinnaker.’
    • ‘Night Train had not yet set its spinnaker when the two people were spotted in the water, 150 yards away.’
    • ‘IT'S one of those dynamically bright mornings when Sydney is at its most Olympian, with the sky rippling like the spinnakers on the yachts dashing across the harbour.’
    • ‘But from a distance, say on a charter boat coming from Phuket, the whitened cliffs catch the sun and shine like spinnakers in a yachting regatta, locked side by side in a never-moving race.’
    • ‘But the crews are sailing downwind with the spinnaker up.’
    • ‘A sail blows off the foredeck and a spinnaker drum jams so they can't jibe on the downwind leg.’
    • ‘The start was really spectacular, with the cruisers and three dinghies setting spinnakers as all 53 boats broad-reached toward the eastern end of Spike, a fast passage with the last of the flood.’
    • ‘Setting a spinnaker involves keeping the boat steady with the wind behind while the spinnaker sail is raised.’
    • ‘As a spinnaker, often used in yacht racing, cannot be fitted to the ultra-streamlined trimaran, speed had to be sacrificed.’
    • ‘The other crew with a spinnaker up momentarily lost control of the sail.’
    • ‘Whenever her dad needs a new spinnaker or satellite navigation system, another cottage or parcel of land gets sold.’
    • ‘Show your support and love of boating by choosing the card that depicts an exhilarating ride on a powerboat or the card that features a sailboat with spinnaker flying.’
    • ‘A larger headsail and cruising spinnaker are nice to have for beam reaching and running in light air but many owners find the mainsail and 120% jib work just fine.’
    • ‘A weekend sailor, Gehry wondered how to design the space between the mast and a spinnaker blown full by the wind, and he shows us just how with this brilliant installation: Gehry sculpts.’
    • ‘Both the 470s and the 49ers also have an additional sail for downwind, called a spinnaker.’
    • ‘Seeing two runners limbering up on the deck of a yacht while you race spinnaker is quite fun.’
    • ‘The 2000 race was another typical adventure, with spinnakers set for the first eight hours until the wind moved to the south-west and increased to gale force during the next two days.’
    • ‘When the breeze picked up to 35 kts we dropped the spinnaker, gybed, set the headsail and started heading back inshore to catch the cold front moving in from the south-west.’
    • ‘On racing days, on many if not most courses, every competing yacht needed to raise its spinnaker directly under my balcony.’
    • ‘Women sailors ranging in age from their 20s to grandmothers brushed up or learned new skills in on-the-water sessions in sail trim, spinnakers, crew-overboard drills and life raft deployment.’


Mid 19th century: apparently a fanciful formation from Sphinx, the name of the yacht first using it, perhaps influenced by spanker.