Chapter 4
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Points of Sailing

Ch 4 01

Close Hauled

  The yacht is sailed as close to the wind as possible without losing forward drive, with the sails sheeted in towards the yacht's centre-line. Depending on the design, a modern yacht will normally point between 40o and 50o from the true wind or 30o to 40o from the apparent wind; this is the term used to describe the wind direction when the yacht is moving through the water. Thus a masthead wind indicator would show the apparent wind when the yacht is underway, and the true wind when stationary. As a yacht increases speed on a given course, the apparent wind direction will move forward.

Ch 4 02

Close Reach

  The wind is forward of the beam, but the yacht is not fully close hauled.  The sheets are eased as far as possible without spilling the wind and the headsail is set to follow the same curve as the main.  This is normally the fastest point of sailing.

Beam Reach

  The wind is on the beam and the sheets eased further, using the same principles as for a close reach.

Broad Reach

  The wind is abaft the beam and the sheets eased still further.


  The wind is over the port or starboard quarter, and the sheets eased until the sails are about right angles to the wind direction. The "lift" effect of the wind over the curvature of the sails has now been lost, and the wind is simply pushing the yacht through the water.


  When the yacht is running almost directly downwind, the main and the headsail set on opposite sides, usually with the headsail boomed out to windward. As more sail area is presented to the wind the speed of the yacht will increase.  Under running conditions a lazy guy€¯ or preventer€¯ rigged from the end of the boom to the bow should be used to prevent an accidental gybe and to keep the mainsail steady.

Running by the Lee

  When running, the boom is set on the windward side in the same quarter as the wind. Apart from reducing the efficiency of the sails, this point of sailing may cause a dangerous accidental gybe if no preventer is rigged.

In Irons

  The yacht is lying exactly head to wind without enough momentum to pass through the wind onto another tack.  In this situation the sails will not fill and the yacht will gradually lose way.  To remedy this situation the headsail must be sheeted in hard either to port or starboard, when the sail will fill and the yacht begin to pay off on the opposite tack.  When the normal direction of sailing is reached the windward headsail sheet is freed and the leeward sheet is taken in.  As the yacht begins to make steerage way, head and mainsheets are trimmed in the normal way

Ch 4 03



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