The Art of Sailing
Sailing is the art of controlling a boat with large (usually fabric) foils called sails. By changing the rigging, rudder, and dagger or centre board, a sailor manages the force of the wind on the sails in order to change the direction and speed of a boat. Mastery of the skill requires experience in varying wind and sea conditions, as well as knowledge concerning sailboats.
While there are still some places in Africa and Asia where sail-powered fishing or transport vessels are used these craft become rare as outboard and modified car engines become available even in the poorest and most remote areas. In most countries people enjoy sailing as a recreational activity. Recreational sailing or yachting can be divided into racing and cruising. Furthermore use of sailboats can be divided into long-distance sailing (also blue-water sailing or offshore sailing) and daysailing.
Points of Sail
The points of sail are the most important parts of sail theory to remember. The no-go zone (shown shaded in accompanying figure) is about 45° either side of the true wind for a racing hull and sail plan optimized for upwind work. On some cruising yachts, the best course achievable upwind is 50° to 55° to the true wind. No sailboat can sail directly into the wind; attempting to do so leads to the sails luffing. There are 5 main points of sail. In order from the edge of the no-go zone to directly downwind they are:
* close haul (often about 45° to the apparent wind - the least angle that the boat and its rig can manage)
* close reach (between close hauled and a beam reach)
* beam reach (90° to the apparent wind)
* broad reach (between a beam reach and running)
* running (close to directly downwind)
The sail trim (and, on smaller boats, centre board/dagger board position) on a boat is relative to the point of sail one is on: on a beam reach sails are mostly let out, on a run sails are all the way out, and close hauled sails are pulled in very tightly. Two main skills of sailing are trimming the sails correctly for the direction and strength of the wind, and maintaining a course relative to the wind that suits the sails once trimmed.