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Basic Principles

The Boat’s Course in Relation to the Wind

On a sailing boat, everything depends upon the wind. The various directions the boat takes in relation to the wind, as illustrated in Fig.3, are called ‘points of sailing’.

Each one of these points requires a particular setting of the sail. The points of sailing called ‘running before the wind’ require easing out of the sheets and the exact setting of the sails in general is not critical. However, when sailing close to the wind, the sails are hauled in to a maximum and the speed of the boat depends much on the actual setting.

If we come too close to the wind, the boat will drift sideways more than it will advance. We enter a forbidden zone, the ‘beating’ zone, where one has to zigzag if one is to move against the direction of the wind. This forbidden angle varies from 90° to 110° depending on the boat.

It is essential, on a boat, always to be aware of the wind direction. An effective means to indicate the direction of the wind and to be constantly informed on its changes is the use of a burgee, a small f lag at the top of the mast and/or ribbons fixed to the shrouds.

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