A boat under sail is far different than driving a power boat and every sailor needs to know some basic points of sail to keep the vessel moving. A quick check of the different points will keep your skills sharp and technique tuned.
Here's a quick guide to the different points of sail:
No Sail Zone - Obviously, it is impossible for a sailboat to sail directly into the wind. A sailboat heading toward a destination that is directly upwind must use a zig-zag course to get to that point. The best that most boats can sail is 45 degrees of true wind. Some of the newer boats can achieve better. Bringing a boat too much into the wind will cause the boat to slow then eventually stop. The sails will slap and beat in the wind and the boat will succumb to a position known as "in irons".
Close-Hauled - Though its not possible to sail directly into the wind, most modern sail boats can sail upwind but just off, fairly well. In this point of sail, all sails are positioned tightly sheeted where they are slicing into the oncoming wind. Close-hauled sailing is when you're sailing as close to the wind as possible.
Close Reach - The next over from the close-hauled point of sail is the close reach. We achieve that by easing the sheets and turning away roughly 20 degrees.
Beam Reach - To many boats, the beam reach is the fastest point of sail. This is achieved when the boat is turned to a position whereby the wind is blowing directly into the side of the boat. All sails should be eased roughly half way out.
Broad Reach - The broad reach is the first point whereby the wind is now coming from aft end of the boat, specifically the port or starboard quarter. The sails are now eased well out to maximize containment of the wind.
Run - This point of sail is essentially a full downwind point with the sails set in the wing-and-wing position. This position is accomplished with the mail sail set all the way out on one side and the head sail set all the way out on the opposite side. A spinnaker is often used on this point as well.
Steve has been sailing for over 20 years and writing articles on the subject for nearly 4 years. In addition to an avid sailing interest, Steve's marketing interest brings quality vendors of low priced breast pumps for new moms to his website
as well as all breast feeding products.