USA. Fiorentino creates first
video library for use of parachute sea anchor

BMY Industry Thursday, 08 October 2009

Fiorentino has created a unique series of five instructional videos aimed at eliminating confusion surrounding parachute sea anchors. A parachute anchor is an underwater parachute that slows a boat’s drift and pulls the bow into approaching waves, thus stabilizing any boat. The videos, available free on its website at, are designed to clear-up any misunderstanding about how to use these potentially life-saving devices.

Drag device inventor Zack Smith, a recognized expert in the field, is the host for all five videos, several of which were shot by Mike Fowlkes from Fox Sports. Smith takes drag device instruction to the next level by taking viewers step-by-step through the best ways to deploy and retrieve parachute sea anchors, including tips on rode lengths and what to do in varying seas. The videos provide clear, simple instructions for use on trawlers, sport fishers, monohulls and multihulls.

A key part of the videos is "Smith’s Short Rode Length Theory" which completely contradicts the common belief that boaters should always pay out all of their rode (10 to 15 feet for every foot of boat). Smith maintains that rode tension is the "Big Secret in successfully using a parachute sea anchor."

“Rode naturally stretches under force until it becomes taut,” says Smith. “As force is reduced, rode becomes relaxed. What boaters want to avoid is too long a period of rode slack that leaves a vessel swinging beam-to where waves can heavily roll the boat or in rare circumstance, cause it to fall back on its rudder(s).”

According to Smith the only other options for maintaining more rode tension are using larger para-anchors, adding a small length of chain to the parachute or flying a riding sail to increase vessel windage. He notes that so far independent research from the U.S. Navy and NASA seems to indicate that his theory is on the right track in regard to his rigging formulas for drag devices.

Along with the new video library on its home page, Fiorentino offers home videos from sailors using parachute sea anchors and excerpts from Smith’s 2003 DVD, “The Complete Para-Anchor Set-up.”  Video instructions and photographs of the new Shark Drogue being deployed in gale force conditions are located in the product section of the company’s website. The company plans to expand its video series in 2010.

Zack Smith, a life-long sailor began sailing in his youth in the waters around Olympia, Washington. A social science graduate
of Washington State University, Smith set out to pursue a career in forensic investigation in government-related fields. In 1994, Smith took a huge side-step in career when he was offered the opportunity to investigate the use of drag devices in heavy weather. He relocated to California and for the past 14 years has worked for Fiorentino conducting extensive research with drag devices on a vast range of boats, under various conditions. As a result of his work, the company has been awarded 14 patents for drag devices, an industry record. Zack has designed custom drag devices for the U.S. Navy, the U.S. Coast Guard and NASA and designed the new Shark drogue released in 2008 by Fiorentino. He has written for publications including Sail Magazine, Latitudes and Attitudes and Blue Water Sailing. Today, when he’s not committed to boat shows or lectures, you can often find Zack on his Beneteau 35 cruising from Newport Beach to Mexico and back.

Return to Zack's FAQ's

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                           - Coming Soon -



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