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Basic Principles

The Boat and the Wind

In the following drawings and explanations, we only mention the main sail. However, the principles remain the same for the jib. The division into two or more sails increases the efficiency and flexibility of the craft.

a) The wind comes from the aft (behind). The mainsheet is eased out. The wind’s force on the sail is directed towards the front of the boat and pushes it forward.

b) The wind blows from the side. In order to fill the sail, the boom should be hauled in (with the main sheet) towards the middle of the boat.

The force of the wind on the sail can be represented as a single force F which can be broken down into a propulsive force Fp which makes the boat go forward and a perpendicular force Fd abeam which makes the boat drift sideways. Since resistance to the forward motion is much weaker than resistance to sideways motion, the boat will move forward in a direction almost perpendicular to the wind, with a slight sideways drift, and will ‘heel’ to ‘leeward’ under the effect of force Fd. YCC Sailing Course for Beginners

c) The boat turns close to the direction of the wind. The main sail has to be hauled in even more. The boat still advances but with a stronger lateral component (more drift and a greater tendency to heel).

d) The boat turns very close to wind, into the forbidden angle. The sails will eventually start flapping and the boat will lose speed and stop.

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