Turning Around – Tacking and Gybing

used laser dingy for sale

Once you’re confident in this direction, or you start to get close to the other side, you will have to turn around so you head for where you just came from, and so that the wind then will be coming across the other side of the boat.

So you may have the choice… you can either tack or gybe.

Tacking is when you bring the bow of the dinghy up through the eye of the breeze (ie. pointing straight into the breeze) so that the breeze is then coming from the other side of the boat. However, gybing is where you bear away so that the breeze comes from behind you as you (the stern is pointing into the breeze) as you turn so that the breeze then comes from the other side.

Tacking is probably the easiest and will be discussed first.

Tacking

sailing tackingWaiting until the breeze is nice and steady (ie. Not in the middle of a gust), assuming that you are reaching, slowly bring in the mainsheet and gently push the tiller extension away from you. This will force the boat up into the breeze.

Just as the boat is pointing directly into the wind, while facing forward, quickly but smoothly move to the other side, keeping the tiller and mainsheet in the same hands (try to keep the tiller angle the same throughout). By doing this, when you arrive on the other side, your tiller hand will be behind your back, and your mainsheet hand will now be your back hand. This may seem a little strange but works best for a smooth transition from one side to another.

As the sail fills, the tiller is now still pulled towards you, so push the tiller away from you again to make the boat travel straight.

Now you need to swap tiller & mainsheet hands. With the mainsheet in your back hand, reach down and grab the tiller extension in the same hand. Then let go of the tiller with your front hand (which is behind your back), and grab the mainsheet.

Now steer the boat so that it is pointing at roughly 90° to the wind, and hopefully, you should be heading back in roughly the same direction to where you just came from.

Tacking takes practice, and these are just the basics. However, as with most things, mastering the basics makes for a solid foundation for learning the trickier maneuvers, so keep practicing those tacks.

This may be enough to get you out on the water for your 1st sail, however, keep reading to familiarize yourself with other tips that, if you don’t use on your 1st day, you will definitely use on subsequent days.

Have a look at the video below which provides a good explanation of the steps involved when tacking a one-person small sailboat…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gMEOex9GQWU

Gybing (or Jibing)

The other way to head back in the same direction as you came is to perform a gybe.

sailing jibingSimilarly to tacking, waiting until the breeze is nice and steady (ie. Not in the middle of a gust), slowly ease the mainsheet so that it is almost all the way out (ie. 90° to the boat), and gently pull the tiller extension towards you. This will force the boat down away from the breeze.

When the boat is nearly pointing directly with the wind, watch the leech of the sail. When it starts to curl slightly, grab the mainsheet of the sail, and give the sail a hand to cross over the other side. An alternative is to pull on some of the mainsheet so that it brings the sail in and makes it easier for the sail to swap over to the other side (see the video below).

As the boom crosses over, keeping your head down and while facing forward, quickly but smoothly move to the other side, keeping the tiller and mainsheet in the same hands (try to keep the tiller angle the same throughout). By doing this, when you arrive on the other side, your tiller hand will be behind your back, and your mainsheet hand will now be in your back hand. As the sail fills, the tiller is now still pushed away from you, so pull the tiller into a central position again to make the boat travel straight.

Now you need to swap tiller & mainsheet hands. With the mainsheet in your back hand, reach down and grab the tiller extension in the same hand. Then let go of the tiller with your front hand (which is behind your back), and grab the mainsheet.

Now get the boat pointing at roughly 90° to the wind, and hopefully, you should be heading back in roughly the same direction to where you just came from.

As with tacking, gybing takes practice. There is probably more chance that you will capsize while gybing, as the boat is unbalanced for a longer amount of time.

Make sure you check out the video below by John Emmett for some extra tacking and gybing tips…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BR6ec_nPWbw

used laser dingy for sale

2 Comments

  1. Nancy MacLean on August 28, 2013 at 7:18 am

    Hi,
    Thanks for such a great website!
    I’m sailing my Laser at a Sailing Club, & leaving it out there when not sailing.
    I have to leave the boat tied down, on its dolly, when I’m not there, but am not sure which knots to use.
    There are 2 anchored chains, 1 on each side of the boat, to tie to.
    Would it work with 2 ropes: attaching each by a bowline knot to their corresponding chain, then a bowline in the free end of 1 rope. Then run the free end of the 2nd rope through the loop on the 1st rope, & secure it with another bowline, & 2 or more half hitches?
    Hope this makes sense, & thanks,
    Nancy MacLean.

    • admin on August 28, 2013 at 2:24 pm

      Hi Nancy
      Thanks for your comments and question. I am glad that you have found the site useful.
      There are heaps of ways that you can tie your boat down. But it depends on how much tension you need on the ropes to keep it in place. You could probably use bowlines and half-hitches to do the job (like the ones I have made videos for – see this post for more info). But the best one for you may be the truckies hitch or trucker’s hitch. I haven’t included this in my videos, because I don’t use it very often, and don’t think I have ever used it at all with my Laser. Nevertheless, it’s a good knot to know, as you can get heaps of tension on it, as it has extra purchase on it.
      Here’s one I saw on youtube. Or put in truckies hitch or trucker’s hitch in youtube yourself and I’m sure heaps of videos will pop up –
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HQFyR153mXI
      Make sure you practice it to perfect it before you head down to the club.
      Let me know how you go.
      All the best
      Brendan

Leave a Comment





Pin It on Pinterest

Share This