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Tacking: Turning can be done in one of two ways. Tacking is turning into the wind or turning the bow through the wind. This is the easier method as everything happens more gradually than in a gybe. As the boat comes round, the sail gets closer to the wind (it is sometimes a good idea to sheet in the mainsail during the turn to maintain steerage). When the boat is pointing directly upwind the sails will flap until the boat comes around on the opposite tack.

Gybing: Gybing is turning away from the wind or turning the stern through the wind. As the boat turns away from the wind the sails stay taught but once the wind gets behind the sails they flip over onto the other side. You have to be quick to jump across to the other side when the sails change or you will be in danger of capsizing. It helps to sheet in the mainsail just before a gybe - the sails will flip over sooner and then can be sheeted out again.

Reversing: When in irons, you will have to reverse. In small dinghies with only a mainsail you can "push, push and pull, pull." In other words, push the boom away from you and push the tiller to the opposite side. This will reverse and turn the boat. Then pull in the mainsheet and pull the tiller towards you and off you go. In larger boats you can back up the jib. That is, if you want to go off to port, sheet in the starboard jibsheet. This will allow the jib to catch the wind and push the bow back to port. Once far enough from the wind, slacken the starboard jibsheet and sheet in the port jibsheet and off you go.

Heaving-to: Heaving-to is getting into the stopped position; the hove-to position. Compared to being in irons, it is easy to start up again; all you have to do is sheet in. The hove-to position is pointing perpendicularly across the wind with the sails sheeted out to the leeward side and flapping in the wind. To hove-to, go into a reach and let the sails out until you stop. It helps to turn into the wind once you let the sails out to slow down the boat, then simply turn away from the wind into the hove-to position when you still have a bit of steerage. In boats with a jib, it might be better to back up the jib. Steer the boat across the wind, let out the mainsail and back up the jib. This wind will be pushing the bow downwind, so turn the rudder so that it 's pushing the bow into the wind. It works better than just letting out all the sails.

Pinching: When beating, it is usually the objective to move upwind as much as possible. Turning to far into the wind will slow the boat down but doing it just a little bit at a time for short intervals will help you to move upwind. This is pinching.

Slowing down: To slow down on a beat or a reach simply let the sails out they will loose power and the boat will slow down. On a run, you have to sheet in.

Running by the Lee: This is a training run with the mainsail on the windward side of the boat. The sail will not be at 90 degrees to the wind which is about the best angle for it. The boat will still move forward but there is a danger of gybing accidentally. This can happen if a slight alteration of course to windward is taken or if the wind shifts direction slightly and gets behing the sail. The advantage of running by the lee is that it is faster than an ordinary training run.

Going upwind: As mentioned before, sailing vessels cannot travel directly upwind. To move upwind you must take a zig zag course of beating. This is called tacking, probably because you have to tack at the end of each leg of the zig zag.

Reefing: If the wind is strong you may want to reduce the sail area. The way you do this depends on the boat; usually you tie the mainsail down to the boom or wrap it around the mast. With most yachts, a number of storm jibs are provided. These are jibs of different sizes and you choose the one most appropriate for the wind conditions. Some yachts have furling genoas (a type of fore sail) which can be very easily furled to reduce its size.

Last Updated October 30th, 2007 QUB Sailing club