How to Sail: Your Points of Sail?

Your Points of SailHow well do you know your points of sail? From our “How to sail” series read our Sailing School handy guide to top up your sailing skills and remind yourself of all the points of sail, which describe a sailing boat’s course in relation to the wind direction. If the wind is coming from anywhere on the port side, then the boat is on a port tack. Likewise, if the wind is on the starboard side then the boat will be on a starboard tack. Unless the boat has it’s “Head to wind”, at any point of sail the boat will be either on a port or starboard tack.

  • No-go Zone (A) – A sailing boat cannot sail directly into the wind, nor on any course that is too close to the direction that the wind is blowing. This is called the “No-go Zone” – if your boat attempts to sail into the No-go Zone the sails will flap and the boat will come to a halt!
  • Close-Hauled (B) – This is sailing as close to the wind as you can get! Your sails will need to be trimmed tightly.
  • Beam Reach (C)– This is the course steered when you are at right angles to the wind on either a port or starboard tack. Your sails will be out half way approx 45 degrees and this is the fastest and easiest point of sail.
  • Broad Reach (D) – On this point of sail you will be heading downwind a bit more with the wind behind you at an angle. Your sails will be let out a bit more eased away from the boat
  • Run (E) – This point of sail can be tricky as the wind is directly behind you and it can be easy to misjudge the strength of the wind. On a run your sails can be let out either side of the boat (also called goosewinging), or you can set a big sail called a Spinnaker.

Sail Trimming – Whenever you change direction or the wind shifts you will need to trim your sails. Turning towards the wind is called “Heading Up” and you will need to pull your sails in “Sheeting in”. When you bear away from the wind you will need to let the sails out “easing the sheets”.

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