North Sails LOFT NEWS

Story Contributors: Louisa Bobyk

THE LATEST OBSESSION: CODE ZEROS

A Win-Win Decision

Why do people love Code Zeros? First off, the name itself sounds cool. Secondly, they have become a secret weapon for anyone looking to take their sailing to the next level. It’s the sail to get you out in 5 or 6 knots. You can also reach higher angles and gain some speed deploying a code. Code sails have a 75% mid girth but are as flat as possible to hit those close reaching angles, so they help fill the gap between upwind headsails and downwind spinnakers. If you are looking to optimize your inventory, having a code sail in the mix is a win-win for sailors of all types.

They aren’t just for racers; polyester code zeros are “set it and forget it,” which is perfect for cruising. Even better, you can leave it up and furled with a UV cover. Longtime cruiser Francois Bertheau says, “I’ve used it twice now and it is beyond my expectations. In three knots of wind, going three knots upwind. I had a 50 degree angle. The sail is beautiful. It’s working really nice. Very, very efficient and has great shape.

North Sails expert Miro Balcar adds, “I see code zero as a must-have sail for the latest cruising boat designs. These boats come with small headsails and sometimes with only self tacking jibs, which are quite underpowered in light winds!”

Another reason to buy a code sail is ease of use: it furls like a genoa, so there’s no need to leave the cockpit. Add UV paint and the sail can stay hoisted for the whole weekend. That’s why North Sails cruising sail expert Bob Meagher’s favourite phrase is “set it and forget it”! 

Code zeros

For a crossover sail between racing and cruising, the laminate code zero is a great option. It’s easy to trim and will hold its competitive shape over the life of the sail, while also saving on the weight. You can cruise with it, do point to point sailing, and use it in your local beer can series. 

Racer/cruiser Chris Bobyk first used his Code Zero on his Beneteau 10R for an overnight race in 2019. Blast was looking for a A3 spinnaker for distance racing in reaching conditions, with wind angles too tight for our A2 spinnaker and to better optimize sail area compared to the genoa. North proposed a hybrid design code zero, which filled the sail inventory void and is more versatile than the earlier envisioned A3 spinnaker. It proved to be the right choice with fantastic results. The Code Zero came out of the bag for the first time during the 2019 Susan hood, and to say the crew was impressed was an understatement – we extended on the fleet behind and closed in on competitors ahead, including advancing into the larger fleet that started earlier. The internal torsion rope made it a breeze for furling and unfurling too.”

Bobyk’s prior experience with Code Zeros made him think they were limited to use within a small wind angle window, but this sail taught him otherwise. “It is one heck of a versatile sail. We have used it in just forward of the beam reaching conditions, when we would typically switch to the A2. It has become a go-to sail in medium to light winds. The sail is very impressive, and North’s design experience was spot on in recommending it based on the inventory void we wanted to fill.”

Recent advances in the design and engineering of code zeros has made it possible to tailor sails for any application; from offshore racers setting records, to family cruisers looking to add performance for day sailing. The choices are nearly endless –  size, shape, target wind angles, top furling, bottom furling. Our team of experts are here to help guide you in finding the perfect secret weapon.

Want to learn more about cruising code zeros? Watch a webinar presented by North Experts Austin Powers, Bob Meagher and Peter Grimm

Story Contributors

The Latest Obsession: Code Zeros headshot
Louisa Bobyk

Office Manager — Toronto, Ontario

Louisa has been sailing since she was a kid in middle school flipping between dinghies and keelboats. She grew up sailing Hobie’s and Laser’s at camp while her father had a Beneteau 36.7. Louisa started in the marine industry through...