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Basic Principles

Elementary Manoeuvres

We shall deal now with the principal manoeuvres which are essential to sail a boat.

a) Rigging the boat
This is the preparation of the boat on the beach or at anchor. The sails are ‘bent’ on (put on) but are not hoisted. The rudder and centreboard are fixed in position.

b) Getting under way
The boat, lying in the water, is held facing into the wind by the bow mooring line. The sails are hoisted up the mast and forestay by means of their halliards. The sheets should remain completely free. The point of sailing is decided upon (port tack or starboard tack, i.e. with the wind blowing from left or right) and, when the boat swings in the appropriate direction, the moorings are cast off.

c) Sail trim - balance of the boat
Having chosen the course, the sheets of the jib and main sail are hauled in according to the direction of the wind in order to obtain the highest speed.

When ‘sailing chose to the wind’, the boat has the tendency to heel over. This should be counter-balanced by sitting on the ‘windward’ side, that is on the side against which the wind blows. It may be necessary to lean over the side to get greater effect; this is known as sitting out.

A boat should not heel over too much. If one cannot obtain balance by sitting out, one must free the sheets a little so as to spill some of the wind. The effect is immediate, and the boat rights itself again. YCC Sailing Course for Beginners

At other points of sailing, the crew is placed in such a way that the boat remains more or less on an even keel. In most cases, and for best trim, the crew should be grouped together more or less towards the centre of the boat, where they produce least turbulence and maintain the fore and aft balance.

d) Changing course
Between (A) and (B), by pushing the tiller, we have brought the wind more directly ahead, that is, we have brought the boat more into the wind. At the same time, we have trimmed the sails in more to keep them drawing. The helmsman has put the ‘helm down’, or has ‘luffed’ more to wind.

If we leave the tiller in this position, the boat will pass through the wind (C), the wind will spill from the sails and, because of its inertia, the boat will continue on her course and (D) change tack. This is called ‘going about’, and is a basic manoeuvre in sailing.

Between (E) and (F), by putting the ‘helm up’ (to windward) the boat turns more to leeward. The sheets are loosened off somewhat. Here we say that the helmsman has come round off the wind, or he has borne away. One can also continue changing direction when the boat is running before the wind (G), but it will be necessary to gybe, that is to let the boom pass to the other side of the boat. At this instant, it is necessary to keep rigorously on course (H). From the new position we can take up our course again, on the new tack. This manoeuvre is called ‘gybing’ and is somewhat more difficult to perform than going about particularly in strong winds.

e) Berthing and derigging of the boat
To come alongside a quay or to tie up to a buoy, the boat must arrive facing into the wind, and should have lost all way (speed) at the moment of arrival. The sails spill, the sheets are eased out, the boat is moored to the buoy, and finally the sails are taken down.

After this, the boat is derigged, tidied up and cleaned and, if there is any damage, this should be repaired or reported to the person in charge of maintenance. In all sailing clubs, it is standard procedure to leave the boats in a state of perfect order and cleanliness.

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