Points of Sail

Downwind

Tactics

  • When sailing a straight line, let sail out nearly perpendicular to the boat for maximum speed.
  • To jibe—turn with the wind at your back—carefully pull in sail and gently turn rudder, then slowly let sail out on opposite side.

Warning
You’ve got the wind at your back, but you can’t relax. It only takes a slight wind-direction change to send your sail swinging to the other side—possibly capsizing the boat.

Saltyspeak: Other Ways to Say “Sailing Downwind”
“Running,” “sailing before the wind,” “sailing free,” “scudding”


Broad Reach, Port Tack

Tactic

  • When sailing a straight line, position sail at about a 45 angle to the boat for maximum speed.

Definitions

  • On a broad reach: with the wind coming diagonally from behind
  • On a port tack: with the wind hitting the port (left) side of the boat

Saltyspeak: Other Ways to Say “Sailing on a Broad Reach”
“Sailing large,” “quartering wind”


Beam Reach, Port Tack

Tactic

  • When sailing a straight line, position sail at just under a 45 angle to the boat for maximum speed.

Definitions

  • On a beam reach: with the boat at about a 90 angle to the wind—generally the fastest, simplest point of sail
  • On a port tack: with the wind hitting the port (left) side of the boat

Close Reach, Port Tack

Tactic

  • When sailing a straight line, let sail out just slightly for maximum speed.

Definitions

  • Sailing on a close reach: sailing upwind with the wind at about a 45 angle to the boat
  • On a port tack: with the wind hitting the port (left) side of the boat

Saltyspeak: Other Ways to Say “Sailing on a Close Reach”
“Beating,” “working on the wind,” “sailing by the wind,” “sailing full and bye”


Close-Hauled, Port Tack

Tactics

  • When sailing a straight line, keep sail almost entirely hauled in for maximum speed.
  • Since it’s impossible to sail directly into the wind—you’d end up stalled, your sails fluttering—you’ve got to sail a zigzag path to reach an upwind destination. Sailing close-hauled offers the shortest path to an upwind point, since it’s the closest you can get to sailing straight into the wind.

Definitions

  • Sailing close-hauled: sailing as directly into the wind as possible (sailing straight into the wind is impossible)
  • On a port tack: with the wind hitting the port (left) side of the boat

Broad Reach, Starboard Tack

Tactic

  • When sailing a straight line, position sail at about a 45 angle to the boat for maximum speed.

Definitions

  • On a broad reach: with the wind coming diagonally from behind
  • On a starboard tack: with the wind hitting the starboard (right) side of the boat

Saltyspeak: Other Ways to Say “Sailing on a Broad Reach”
“Sailing large,” “quartering wind”


Beam Reach, Starboard Tack

Tactic

  • When sailing a straight line, position sail at just under a 45 angle to the boat for maximum speed.

Definitions

  • On a beam reach: with the boat at about a 90 angle to the wind—generally the fastest, simplest point of sail
  • On a starboard tack: with the wind hitting the starboard (right) side of the boat

Close Reach, Starboard Tack

Tactic

  • When sailing a straight line, let sail out just slightly for maximum speed.

Definitions

  • Sailing on a close reach: sailing upwind with the wind at about a 45 angle to the boat
  • On a starboard tack: with the wind hitting the starboard (right) side of the boat

Saltyspeak: Other Ways to Say “Sailing on a Close Reach”
“Beating,” “working on the wind,” “sailing by the wind,” “sailing full and bye”


Close-Hauled, Starboard Tack

Tactics

  • When sailing a straight line, keep sail almost entirely hauled in for maximum speed.
  • Since it’s impossible to sail directly into the wind—you’d end up stalled, your sails fluttering—you’ve got to sail a zigzag path to reach an upwind destination. Sailing close-hauled offers the shortest path to an upwind point, as it’s the closest you can get to sailing straight into the wind.

Definitions

  • Sailing close-hauled: sailing as directly into the wind as possible (sailing straight into the wind is impossible)
  • On a starboard tack: with the wind hitting the starboard (right) side of the boat

In Irons

Tactic

  • If you find yourself stalled in irons (pointing directly into the wind) slowly turn your rudder to reposition the boat once again at an angle to the wind, allowing the sails to fill again.

Definition

  • In irons: when a boat is pointed into the wind, causing the sail or sails to flap like flags and the boat to lose speed or even stop

 
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