Sailing terms you need to know: points of sail

June 30, 2017

There are many important sailing terms you need to know for a safe navigation because like many other sports sailing has its own terminology: there are some basic terms, that you will quickly learn, and other more specific terms, that need more time to be learned. Anyway, you will improve your skills only with a lot of experience.
If you’ve tried to sail, at least once in your life, or if you are a truly qualified and reliable sailor you already know that sailing is to change the boat’s orientation to the wind direction, that can change at every moment. So, if you want to use it, to go faster, instead to use the engine, you need to know what are its effects on the sails to use it efficiently. Therefore, if you want to fully enjoy your sailing holiday the game will be to maintain a perfect balance of the boat, adjusting the sails and providing the right power to go in the right direction and for this you need to know some basic, but fundamental, sailing terms.
So, grab the helm and choose you destination, you’ll discover the specific points of sail.

Sailing terms you need to know: Close Hauled and Beam Reach

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There are sailing terms for each movement of the sailboat and especially during a sailing week in the Caribbean, where a great close hauled (or beating) can’t be missed as some good turning and steering technique. This point of sail the hull becomes alive and more responsive at the helm, the sails are trimmed in tightly and the sailboat is diagonal to the wind: only on board you can feel a unique and vibrant sensation!
The boat heels, but don’t worry, the weight of the underwater hull can balance the sailboat that always returns to a safe harbor! Nowadays the boats have hulls and other attachments (bulb and helm) that allow to going back to the wind up to 45 degrees. The pleasure of sailing is precisely this one: catching the gusts and feeling the bow cutting the waves.
Then there is a moment when someone on board asks … “But how fast the sailboat can move?” To know that you need to find the right angle, changing the direction, adjusting the course and the point of sail. An experienced sailor, in order to make the sails more efficient, would choose the Beam Reach, where the wind is coming across at a right angle to the centerline. So we could have the maximum speed to organize a regatta between the boats of our flotilla, challenging your friends in a race of water balloons!

Sailing terms you need to know: Broad reach and Running

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Last but not least other sailing terms you need to know are: Broad reach and Running.
Have a drink and get ready to enjoy the holiday: the sails in the broad reach are eased out away and the point of sail is around 135 degrees and it is the most comfortable and stable one. The boat remains “pretty flat on the water” and the sails push without forcing, so we always have to know how to go in the right direction and at the best speed. Finally, if the wind is not too strong and the waves are small the relaxation is guaranteed!! At the contrary if it increases and waves swell we can follow them and, after finding the right direction and a good sensitivity at the helm, we can also do some “surfing”!
And what about the Running with the wind? Now the sails are let out at right angles to the centerline of the boat, the wind is a relative bearing of 6 o’clock. This is about 180 degrees and we are exposed as much sail area as possible so pay attention to boom during an accidental jibe, during which as the boat crosses the wind the mainsail swings fast round to the other side.
When the wind is in our sails the situation is in our favor, we can immediately the wind in our hair, the speed is increased and the sailboat best responds to the helm. At this point you can ask to the skipper if there is a Gennaker, (used when sailing downwind and between a genoa and a spinnaker). Then, get to work, every little gust add a little more of “sprint” to the sailing. In addition there are more sailing terms that you need to know such as knots or tacking and jibing, are you ready?