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Do you know your points of sail?

From broad reach to no go zone - Do you know your points of sail?  Take part in the points of sail quiz and win a FREE RYA Crew to win book!

When you’re out sailing there are different ‘points of sail’, which refer to your boat’s course in relation to the wind, that you will need to learn. Each point has a different name and there is even ‘no go zone’.

Good sailors are always wind-aware, working out where the wind is coming from and how hard it is blowing (remember the wind can change direction!) and the more you practice working out where the wind is coming from, eventually it will become instinctive.

Let’s have a closer look at each of the ‘Points of Sail’.

Points of sail 

No Go Zone – this is the bit that you can’t sail in. Your sails will start to flap and your boat will come to a stop.

Close Hauled – This is as close to the wind as you can go. You will need to make sure you sails are pulled in nice and tight.  

Close Reach – Not quite as tricky as close hauled and you’ll need to let your sails about a bit.  

Beam Reach – This is the fastest and easiest point of sail. The wind is on the side of your boat (beam) and you’ll sail with your sails out half way.  

Broad Reach – On a broad reach you’ll be heading a bit further downwind, so you will have to let your sails out a bit more.

Training Run – Here the wind will be slightly to one side of your stern making it a bit easier to steer than in a dead run.  

Run – With the wind directly behind you this is the trickiest point of sail to steer as it can be quite unstable. On a run your sails can be let out on opposite side of the boat to catch the wind (sailing goosewinged) or a big sail called a spinnaker can be set.  

Sailing Upwind
You can sail in any direction except directly into the wind (in the no go zone), about 40 degrees off the wind is about as close as you can get. So if you want to sail upwind you need to zigzag from side to side of the no go zone. This is called beating to windward and involves tacking your boat through about 90 degrees from close hauled to close hauled through the no go zone.

Sail Trim
Every time you change direction, even if it’s just a little bit, you will need to trim your sails depending upon your heading. As you turn toward the wind, this is called Heading Up and you have to pull your sails in, ‘sheeting in’. When you turn away from the wind, Bearing Away, you will need to let the sails out, ‘ease the sheets’. 
 

Go Sailing! by Claudia Myatt

You can learn more about points of sail from the RYA’s practical handbook Go Sailing! by Claudia Myatt.

 

Quiz time

Crew to WinThe Points of Sail Quiz

Now you’ve learnt about points of sail and learnt a few new words see if you can match the word with the right description… Match the number to the right letter.  

Send your correct answers and postal details to editor.inbrief@rya.org.uk and the first 20 entries will receive a free copy of the RYA Crew to win book.  Try not to cheat!!!

Name Description
1. Close Hauled A. Big sail used when sailing downwind
2. Run B. Changing your boat direction through about 90 degrees from close hauled to close hauled
3. Goosewinged C. When you turn away from the wind
4. Spinnaker D. Pulling your sails in when heading up
5. Bearing Away E. Sails let out on opposite sides of the boat
6. Beam Reach F. As close to the wind as you can go
2. Run B. Changing your boat direction through about 90 degrees from close hauled to close hauled
7. Tacking G. The fastest and easiest point of sail
8. Sheeting In H. Wind directly behind you and the trickiest point of sail to steer

 THIS COMPETITON IS NOW CLOSED

Answer - click to reveal

1-F  2-H  3-E  4-A  5-C  6-G  7-B  8-D

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