Points of Sail - How to Sail


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Points of Sail


The direction a boat is sailing in relation to where the wind is coming from

Points of Sail are based on the angle a boat is sailing in relation to the direction wind is coming from. Understanding the points of sailing is important as the wind is your energy source and will have an affect on how well the boat sails, if at all!

Beam Reach
This is a precise point of sail and is exactly perpendicular (or 90°) to the direction of the wind, from the direction of the wind. Here the sails are let out half way and the centreboard on sailing dinghies is set to ½ down. Generally for most boats this is an efficient point of sail and can provide for the fastest speeds
Broad Reach
A broad reach is not a precise point of sail and can be any angle to the wind from a beam reach to running downwind. The sails should be let out and for dinghy boats the centreboard is only ¼ of the way down. Even though you are starting to sail down wind a little bit, you actually lose efficiency from a beam reach and will generally see slower speeds
Close Hauled
Sailing as close to the No Sail Zone as possible without entering it. The sails of the boat will need to be in tight, and if sailing a dinghy, the centreboard should be fully down
Close Reach
Includes any angle to the wind between close hauled and a beam reach. Sails are let out more than close hauled and on a sailing dinghy the centreboard should be about ¾ down
Head To Wind
Head to wind is when the boat is facing directly into the wind. While on a Head to Wind point of sail the boat will in the No Sail Zone, the sails will start to flap, and the boat will slow down, eventually starting to drift backwards
No Sail Zone
The no sail zone is not a point of sail, but an angle, approximately 40° to 45°, either side of the direction of true wind. This zone is where a boats' sails cannot generate any lift and therefore cannot sail. For boats to head up wind they will need to sail a zigzag course using close hauled/reach points of sail