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The Manoeuvres


The expression ‘gybing’ applies to the manoeuvre which results in a change of tack when sailing with the wind from behind. It is more risky than going about, but can be safely done with good weather. However, beginners should refrain from gybing as soon as the weather becomes rough.

Sequence of actions.

  • Bear away until the wind is dead aft, whilst easing out the sheets to the maximum. The jib, in this case, can be brought over to the opposite side, which is called ‘goose winged’.
  • The helmsman calls ‘ready to gybe’. The crew should ensure that he is net in the line of the boom as it swings from one side of the boat to the other. He then answers ‘ready’.
  • Keeping rigorously on course with wind dead aft, the helmsman hauls in the main sail completely, so that it is as close as possible along the axis of the boat. The boom can then be made to pass over to the other side. It may do this of its own accord, or can be assisted by the helmsman. As it does so the helmsman cries "Gybe-O" and rapidly eases the sheets of the main sail, taking care meanwhile that the course does not change. Should the boom fail to pass to the other side, one can push the tiller in the direction in which the boom should go.
  • Finally, take up the new course and set the sails accordingly.

The boat is driven forward during the entire manoeuvre, which can be repeated continuously. However, gybing does present certain difficulties which may lead to the boat capsizing.

Possible accidents when gybing

  • Involuntary gybing: the boom passes unexpectedly from one side to the other, either because the helmsman bas allowed the helm to come up too much and the wind is no longer dead aft, or because the wind direction has suddenly changed, and the boat is sailing ‘by the lee’.
  • Sudden broaching to: this may happen at the moment of gybing if the helmsman has not kept on course or if the main sheet is jammed.


  • First be sure to have the wind dead aft. During the manoeuvre, watch the burgee closely.
  • Steer absolutely straight during steps A, B and C.
  • Be sure that the main sheet is clear to run freely.

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