How to Tack Your Sailboat Smoothly and Quickly – 2 Ways

sailboat sailing on water near island

Tacking is a sailing procedure by which a sailing vessel, whose desired route is into the wind, turns its head toward and through the breeze so that the place from which the wind blows changes from one side of the boat to the other enabling progress in the wanted direction.

The counter maneuver to tacking is called jibing or wearing on square-rigged ships, twisting the stern through the wind. No sailing vessel can move directly upwind, though that may be the wanted direction, making this an indispensable sailing ship maneuver. A series of tacking moves, in a zig-zag fashion, is called beating and enables sailing in the coveted direction.

There are a couple of ways to tack a sailboat: by tacking the mainsail or tacking the jib. If you know how to do each, it will undoubtedly help you enjoy smooth and quick sailing. Tacking a sailboat with the correct wind conditions makes sailing more accessible and a lot more enjoyable. Tacking your sailboat adjusts your boat according to the wind direction. There are two ways to wear a sailboat. When you understand them, your time out on the water will be much more relaxing and enjoyable.

Tacking with the jib

Tacking with the jib is similar to turning the sailboat with the below covered mainsail. However, you need to add on some important steps. In planning to turn, you must ready the jib sheets. The sheet released during the tack must be the one in use, and you must quickly bring the other in while the jib is crossing to the other side. It would be best if you remembered to alert the crew so they will know when to keep the other jib cloth. When the jib is played backward during the turn, don’t forget to release the jib sheet quickly; make sure it doesn’t get caught in or stuck on any lines. Also, have someone from your crew trim down the other jib sheet so it does not flap loose, which will decrease the boat’s speed. Larger sailboats will need a crew member to crank the jib sheet down with a winch. Just as you would when wearing the mainsail, you must pay close attention to the wind traits at all times while participating in this water sport. Ready your sail and exercise regularly to master complete control when tacking your sailboat.

Tacking with the mainsail 

To prepare for this tack, the first thing you must do is a sheet of the mainsail tight and sail close to the wind without losing any boat speed. Alert your crew with the traditional command “Ready about!” when you are planning to tack so they can adequately synchronize their movements. You must pay close attention while in the tacking position. Your body must be totally ree from all ropes and other equipment so that you can effectively perform the tacking action and dodge, putting the boat in a position that will blow it off course and perhaps collapse for good. When ready, alert and signal the crew with the traditional “Hard alee!” command, so they will know that you are pushing the tiller to the lee side for the boat to tack. Both the roar and the mainsail will cross the centerline, and the sail will fill the other side of the ship as it turns. So the boat can turn easily, have the crew move to the other side of the boat, so their weight is on the right side. As the full tack is finished, you can smoothly steer the boat. Do not over-steer further away from the other side of the wind, or your boat could capsize.

Now You Know

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