Flapping sail, unhappy sail


Learning to sail is not hard. Most people will figure out pretty quickly where the winds coming from, how the tiller works and how to adjust the sails. Sailing a boat well or ‘in the groove’ is a finer art.

It’s best to learn the basics of sailing on a dinghy or any keelboat up to 25 foot. They are so much more responsive. You can really feel the impact of the wind on the sails, boat and rudder. The first thing to master is understanding which direction the wind is blowing from. There are several ways to know which direction the wind is coming from. The easiest ways are by feeling the wind on your face, watch how boats are swinging on their mooring or by watching the wind indicator on top of a mast.

Everything we do in sailing revolves around the Points of Sailing. These refer to the angle between the direction of the boat and the wind direction. It’s crucial for a sailor to understand what you can and what you can’t do with a sail boat. Try to ‘listen’ to your sails and keep an eye on your wind indicator, particularly when you’re new to the sport. One of our best used training one-liners is: ‘a flapping sail is an unhappy sail’. Sails will always tell you what needs to be done. If the sails are luffing it either means that you’re too close to the no sail zone or that your sails are too loose.  When you’re sailing in or too close to the no sail zone, you’ll need to steer away from the wind to fill up your sails. If your sails are too loose you must bring them in until they stop luffing (flapping).

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