Archive for December, 2010

PostHeaderIcon Shift Gears

Shift gears – Optimizing your sailplan and trim for the current or anticipated wind and sea conditions, and tactical needs. A sailboat is not limited to a set number of gears like a car. Your sails can be formed into an infinite variety of shapes, or gears, for just the right mix of power, speed and pointing as needed. See also: acceleration mode, point mode and wave mode.

PostHeaderIcon Wave Mode

Wave mode – trimmed with sails twisted open, having some depth, and powered-up so some portion of the sails are always working as the boat pitches up and down in the waves. See also: shift gears. Compare to: acceleration mode and point mode.

PostHeaderIcon Point Mode

trimming sails and flattening the boat to make the most progress to windward in moderate to heavy air and smooth water. Point mode can be achieved only after the boat attains full speed by trading speed for pointing ability. Also known as height mode. See also: feather, scallop and shift gears. Compare to: foot mode and wave mode.

PostHeaderIcon Acceleration mode

Acceleration mode — trimming and steering the boat for increased speed, usually by bearing off slightly. Pointing ability is traded for speed. Also known as going fast forward, foot mode and speed mode. In more traditional nautical terms, sailing in this trim configuration is referred to as sailing full and by. See also: rumble and shift gears. Compare to: point mode and wave mode.

PostHeaderIcon Rail Meat

Rail meat — slang for any crew whose primary job is to hike out to counteract excessive heeling or to induce healing. Kinder job descriptions include rail jockey and stability technician.

PostHeaderIcon Crash Jibe

what happens when a boat is steered or the winds shift such that the boat’s stern unintentionally passes through the eye of the wind. Whether the jibe is planned or unintentional, the boom swings violently and in an uncontrolled manner from one side of the boat to the other. The force of the boom’s motion can be destructive: injuring or killing crew, damaging equipment, and even dismasting the boat. Sometimes a preventer is used to control the boom’s movement, but only proper helmsmanship can prevent an unintentional jibe. Also known as an accidental jibe or flying jibe. See also: chicken jibe.

PostHeaderIcon Crash Tack

a sudden, unplanned, often graceless tack done to avoid a collision.

PostHeaderIcon Bay

Bay – bays and sounds are both indentations in the shoreline along a large body of water that form naturally protected harbors. Bay is often used interchangeably with sound, and there are no governing rules about term use. By convention, a bay is typically smaller and shallower than a sound, but larger than a bight. A bay is also typically more protected than a sound. A bay is enclosed on three sides by land, while a sound is more likely to have two entrances. Compare San Francisco Bay to Long Island Sound.

PostHeaderIcon Bang the Corner

to sail all the way to or beyond the lateral extent of the racecourse (where the extended laylines from the weather mark and leeward mark cross) in search of a (usually mythical) strategic advantage. Banging the corner eliminates any advantages possible from wind shifts; lifts are no help to you and headers help every other boat but yours. Also called “going to Cornersville,” “Rightsville,” or “Leftsville,” where the population is usually 1. British and Commonwealth sailors call it “ringing the bell.” See also: overstand. Compare to: in the cone.

About the author:
Bob Roitblat is an avid sailor, writer and professional speaker. If you have any comments about this blog, or you are interested in having Bob to speak at your club, contact the author here:

You may also be interested in Bob’s other blog, At The Helm, that is focused on the owners of small-to-medium sized closely-held businesses.

PostHeaderIcon Windward/Leeward Course

Windward/leeward course — a racecourse configuration with a minimum of two marks: one placed directly upwind from the start line’s center (the windward mark or weather mark), and the other placed directly downwind from the first (the leeward mark). There may be an offset mark set perpendicular to the windward mark. A gate may be set at the course’s leeward end. You must first tack upwind to round the windward mark, and then sail downwind to round the leeward mark. Also known as a sausage course or windward return course. See also: gate and offset mark. Compare to: Olympic course.


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