A cruising chute is primarily the same as a gennaker or asymmetric spinnaker. However, cruising chutes tend to be a little easier to handle than a racing asymmetric sail and in many cases they are more modest in size and are cut a little more conservatively.
Like gennakers and Asymmetric kites, cruising chutes are triangular, made of lightweight material and, as the name suggests, they are not cut symmetrically, meaning that they have a permanent luff, leach, tack and clew.
Many cruising chutes are fitted with a ‘snuffer’ which is a large lightweight nylon sock that is pulled up with a dedicated line once the chute has been hoisted. When you want to drop the chute you simply turn onto a deep broad reach, hoist or unfurl your headsail and then depower the cruising chute’s working sheet. Then you pull on the ‘snuffer line’ which pulls the snuffer down and over the sail, thus depowering it and collecting it ready for the ease of the halyard. Make sure you don’t lose the snuffer line after the hoist!
Cruising chutes can usually be flown either off a tack line run along the deck to the bow and then run through a block or sometimes they may be flown off a tack line at the end of a bowsprit.