Sailing is the art of controlling a sailing vessel. 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.
The energy that drives a sailboat is harnessed by manipulating the relative movement of wind and water speed: if there is no difference in movement, such as on a calm day or when the wind and water current are moving in the same direction, there is no energy to be extracted and the sailboat will not be able to do anything but drift. Where there is a difference in motion, then there is energy to be extracted at the interface, and the sailboat does this by placing the sail(s) in the air and the hull(s) in the water.
Sails are airfoils that work by using an airflow set up by the wind and the motion of the boat. The combination of the two is the apparent wind, which is the relative velocity of the wind relative to the boat's motion. The sails generate lift using the air that flows around them. The air flowing at the sail surface is not the true wind.
The sail alone is not sufficient to drive the boat in any desired direction, as a sail by itself would only push a boat in the same direction as the wind. Sailboats overcome this by having another physical object below the water line. These include, a keel, centerboard, or some other form of underwater foil or even the hull itself (as in catamarans without centreboard or in a traditional proa). Thus, the physical portion of the boat which is below water can be regarded as functioning as a "second sail". Having two surfaces against the wind and water enables the sailor to travel in almost any direction and to generate an additional source of lift from the water. The flow of water over the underwater hull portions creates a hydrodynamic force. The combination of the aerodynamic force from the sails and the hydrodynamic force from the underwater hull section allows motion in almost any direction, except straight into the wind. This can be likened, in simple terms, to squeezing a wet bar of soap with two hands which causes it to shoot out in a direction perpendicular to both opposing forces. Depending on the efficiency of the rig, the angle of travel relative to the true wind can be as little as 35 degrees to over 80 degrees. This angle is called the tacking angle With a 35 degree tacking angle on either side of the wind, it is possible for a sailboat to sail directly over 290 degrees of the compass (360 - 2x35 = 290 degrees).
When sailing upwind, the sails, when correctly adjusted, will generate aerodynamic lift. When sailing downwind, the sails no longer generate aerodynamic lift and airflow is stalled, with the wind push on the sails giving drag only. As the boat is going downwind, the apparent wind is less than the true wind and this allied to the fact that the sails are not producing aerodynamic lift serves to limit the downwind speed. When moving, the motion of the boat creates its own apparent wind. Apparent wind is what is experienced onboard and is the wind that the boat is actually sailing by. Sailing into the wind causes the apparent wind to be greater than the true wind and the direction of the apparent wind will be forward of the true wind. Some extreme design boats are capable of traveling faster than the true windspeed.
Some non-traditional rigs purportedly capture energy from the wind in a much different fashion are capable of feats that traditional rigs are not, such as sailing directly into the wind. One such example is the wind turbine boat, also called the windmill boat , which uses a large windmill to extract energy from the wind, and a propeller to convert this energy to forward motion of the hull. A similar design, called the autogiro boat, uses a wind turbine without the propellor, and functions in a manner similar to a normal sail
Can This Boat Sail Correctly?
This helps the crew to remember these essential points;
Together, these points are known as 'The Five Essentials' and constitute the central aspects of sailing.
Sailing the boat within roughly 30 degrees either side of dead downwind is called a run. This is the easiest point of sail in terms of comfort, but it can also be the most dangerous. When sailing upwind, it's easy to stop the boat by heading into the wind; a sailor has no such easy out when running. Severe rolling is more likely as there is less rolling resistance provided by the sails, which are eased out. And loss of attention by the helmsman could lead the boat to gybe accidentally, causing injury to the boat or crew. (A preventer can be rigged to prevent damage from an accidental gybe.) Alternately, if there is a sudden increase in wind strength, the boat can round up very suddenly and heel excessively, often leading to a capsize in smaller boats. This is called broaching.
For most modern sailboats, that is boats with triangular sails, reaching is the fastest way to travel. The direction of the wind is ideal for reaching because it will maximize the lift generated on the sails in the forward direction of the boat, giving the best boat speed. Also when reaching, the boat can be steered exactly in the direction that is most desirable, and the sails can be trimmed for that direction.
Reaching however may put the boat on a parallel course with the waves. When the waves are steep, it may be necessary to sail closer to the wind to avoid waves directly on the beam.
A basic rule of sailing is that it is not possible to sail directly into the wind—at least not for long. Generally speaking, a boat can sail 45 degrees off the wind. When a boat is sailing this close to the wind, it is close-hauled or beating (beating to weather).
Since a boat cannot sail directly into the wind, but the destination is often upwind, one can only get there by sailing close-hauled with the wind coming from the port side (the boat is on port tack), then tacking (turning the boat through the eye of the wind) and sailing with the wind coming from the starboard side (the boat is on starboard tack). By this method, it is possible to reach that destination directly upwind. For a yacht beating upwind to a mark at a distance upwind of one mile, it will cover a distance through the water of over 1.42 miles, if it can tack through an angle of 90 degrees. An old adage describes beating as sailing for twice the distance at half the speed and three times the discomfort.
How closely a boat can sail into the wind depends on the boat's design, sail trim, the sea state, and the wind speed, since what the boat "sees" is the apparent wind, the vector sum of the actual wind and the negation of the boat's own velocity. The apparent wind speed is what the anemometer on top of the mast shows. The apparent wind angle while sailing close hauled will be less than the true wind angle. A good, modern sloop can sail within 25 degrees of the apparent wind. An America's Cup racing sloop can sail within 16 degrees—under ideal conditions. Those figures might translate into 45 degrees and 36 degrees relative to the actual wind, depending on boat speed.
Reefing means reducing the area of a sail without actually changing it for a smaller sail. Ideally reefing does not only result in a reduced sail area but also in a lower center of effort from the sails, reducing the heeling moment and keeping the boat more upright.
There are three common methods of reefing the mainsail:
Mainsail furling systems have become increasingly popular on cruising yachts as they can be operated shorthanded and from the cockpit in most cases, however, the sail can become jammed in the mast or boom slot if not operated correctly. Mainsail furling is almost never used while racing because it results in a less efficient sail profile. The classical slab-reefing method is the most widely used. Mainsail furling has an additional disadvantage in that its complicated gear may somewhat increase weight aloft. However, as the size of the boat increases, the benefits of mainsail roller furling increase dramatically.
An old saying goes, "The first time you think of reducing sail you should," and correspondingly, "When you think you are ready to take out a reef, have a cup of tea instead."
As noted above, sail trimming is a large subject. Basic control of the mainsail consists of setting the sail so that it is at an optimum angle to the wind, (i.e. no flapping at the front, and tell tales flowing evenly off the rear of the sail).
Two or more sails are frequently combined to maximize the smooth flow of air. The sails are adjusted to create a smooth laminar flow over the sail surfaces. This is called the "slot effect". The combined sails fit into an imaginary aerofoil outline, so that the most forward sails are more in line with the wind, whereas the more aft sails are more in line with the course followed. The combined efficiency of this sail plan is greater than the sum of each sail used in isolation.
More detailed aspects include specific control of the sail's shape, e.g.:
The points of sail are the most important parts of sail theory to remember. The wind, irons, or no go zone, is about 45° either side of the true wind, for a racing hull and sail plan optimized for upwind work. More commonly and on cruising sailplans, the best angle achievable upwind is 50° to 55° to the true wind. A boat cannot sail directly into the wind; attempting to do so is called luffing. There are 5 main points of sail. In order from the edge of the no go zone to directly downwind they are:
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 half way out, on a run sails are all the way out, and close hauled sails are pulled in very tightly. A large proportion of the skill of sailing is in trimming the sails correctly for direction and strength of the wind.
Most of the above effects can be used to right a heeling boat and to keep the boat sailing efficiently: if however the boat heels beyond a certain point of stability, it can capsize. A boat is capsized when the tip of the mast is in the water. Yachts are traditionally divided into non-capsizable (which means that they have a heavy keel which in normal weather should stabilize the vessel) and non-drowning (which usually means that the vessel has a centerboard and even in normal circumstances can be capsized, but will not sink).
Sailing boats with one hull are "monohulls", those with two are "catamarans", those with three are "trimarans". A boat is turned by a rudder, which itself is controlled by a tiller or a wheel, while at the same time adjusting the sheeting angle of the sails. Smaller sailing boats often have a stabilising, raisable, underwater fin called a centreboard (or daggerboard); larger sailing boats have a fixed (or sometimes canting) keel. As a general rule, the former are called dinghies, the latter keelboats. However, up until the adoption of the Racing Rules of Sailing, any vessel racing under sail was considered a yacht, be it a multi-masted ship-rigged vessel (such as a sailing frigate), a sailboard (more commonly referred to as a windsurfer) or remote-controlled boat, or anything in between. (see Dinghy sailing)
Multihulls use flotation and/or weight positioned away from the centre line of the sailboat to counter the force of the wind. This is in contrast to heavy ballast that can make up to ⅓ of the weight of a monohull sailboat. In the case of a standard catamaran there are two similarly sized and shaped slender hulls connected by beams, which are sometimes overlaid by a deck superstructure. Another catamaran variation is the proa. In the case of trimarans, which have an unballasted centre hull similar to a monohull, two relatively smaller amas are situated parallel to the centre hull to resist the sideways force of the wind. The advantage of multihulled sailboats is that they do not suffer the performance penalty of having to carry heavy ballast, and their relatively lesser draft reduces the amount of drag, caused by friction and inertia, when moving through the water.
A traditional modern yacht is technically called a "Bermuda sloop" (sometimes a "Bermudan sloop"). A sloop is any boat that has a single mast and a headsail (generally a jib) in addition to the mainsail. The Bermuda designation refers to the fact that the sail, which has its forward edge (the "luff") against the mast (the main sail), is a sail roughly triangular in shape. Additionally, Bermuda sloops only have a single sail behind the mast. Other types of sloops are gaff-rigged sloops and lateen sloops. Gaff-rigged sloops have quadrilateral mainsails with a gaff (a small boom) at their upper edge (the "head" of the sail). Gaff-rigged vessels may also have another sail, called a topsail, above the gaff. Lateen sloops have triangular sails with the upper edge attached to a gaff, and the lower edge attached to the boom, and the boom and gaff are attached to each other via some type of hinge. It is also possible for a sloop to be square rigged (having large square sails like a Napoleonic Wars-era ship of the line). Note that a "sloop of war," in the naval sense, may well have more than one mast, and is not properly a sloop by the modern meaning.
If a boat has two masts, it may be a schooner, a ketch, or a yawl, if it is rigged fore-and-aft on all masts. A schooner may have any number of masts provided the second from the front is the tallest (called the "main mast"). In both a ketch and a yawl, the foremost mast is tallest, and thus the main mast, while the rear mast is shorter, and called the mizzen mast. The difference between a ketch and a yawl is that in a ketch, the mizzen mast is forward of the rudderpost (the axis of rotation for the rudder), while a yawl has its mizzen mast behind the rudderpost. In modern parlance, a brigantine is a vessel whose forward mast is rigged with square sails, while her after mast is rigged fore-and-aft. A brig is a vessel with two masts both rigged square.
A spinnaker is a large, full sail that is only used when sailing off wind either reaching or downwind, to catch the maximum amount of wind.
Rope is the term used only for raw material; once a section of rope is designated for a particular purpose on a vessel, it generally is called a line, as in outhaul line or dock line. A very thick line is considered a cable. Lines that are attached to sails to control their shapes are called sheets, as in mainsheet If a rope is made of wire, it maintains its rope name as in 'wire rope' halyard.
Lines (generally steel cables) that support masts are stationary and are collectively known as a vessel's standing rigging, and individually as shrouds or stays (the stay running forward from a mast to the bow is called the forestay or headstay).
Moveable lines that control sails or other equipment are known collectively as a vessel's running rigging. Lines that raise sails are called halyards while those that strike them are called downhauls or cunninghams. Lines that adjust (trim) the sails are called sheets. These are often referred to using the name of the sail they control (such as main sheet, or jib sheet). Sail trim may also be controlled with smaller lines attached to the forward section of a boom; such a line is called a vang, or a kicker in the United Kingdom.
Lines used to tie a boat up when alongside are called docklines, docking cables or mooring warps.
Some lines are referred to as ropes: A bell rope (to ring the bell), a bolt rope (attached to the edge of a sail for extra strength), a foot rope (on old square riggers for the sailors to stand on while reefing or furling the sails), and a tiller rope (to temporarily hold the tiller and keep the boat on course). A rode is what keeps an anchor attached to the boat when the anchor is in use. It may be chain, rope, or a combination of the two.
Walls are called bulkheads or ceilings, while the surfaces referred to as ceilings on land are called 'overheads'. Floors are called 'soles' or decks. The toilet is traditionally called the 'head', the kitchen is the galley. Lines are rarely tied off, they are almost always 'made fast' or 'belayed.' Sails in different sail plans have unchanging names, however. For the naming of sails, see sail-plan.
Additional knots are available List of knots
Even experienced sailors may forget their knots if they are not performed on a regular basis. Forgetting how to tie an important knot can damage a boat or cause injury.
Power driven vessel A that is on a potential collision course crossing the port side of power driven vessel B must give way. Sailing boats with their sails set on the same side of the boat, require that the windward boat shall give way to the leeward boat. Vessel A overtaking vessel B normally must keep clear of them . Head on collisions are avoided by vessels both turning to Starboard.
If these rules are not followed in a yacht race, a protest may be called by one of the skippers. A hearing of protestor and protestee by the protest committee panel will decide who wins the rule breach.
However there are many other rules besides these, that are applicable and sailors are required to know these, which are fundamental boating safety rules including:
After sunset all boats racing are bound by the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea (COLREGS) rather than the Racing Rules of Sailing.
Sailboat racing ranges from single person dinghy racing to large boats with 10 or 20 crew and from small boats costing a few hundred dollars to multi-million dollar America's Cup or Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race campaigns. The costs of participating in the high end large boat competitions make this type of sailing one of the most expensive sports in the world. However, there are relatively inexpensive ways to get involved in sailboat racing, such as at community sailing clubs, and in some relatively inexpensive dinghy and small catamaran classes. Additionally high schools and colleges may offer sailboat racing programs through the Interscholastic Sailing Association (in the USA) and the Intercollegiate Sailing Association (in the USA and some parts of Canada). Under these conditions, sailboat racing can be comparable to or less expensive than sports such as golf and skiing. Sailboat racing is one of the few sports in which people of all ages and genders can regularly compete with and against each other.
Most sailboat and yacht racing is done in sheltered coastal or inland waters. However, in terms of endurance and risk to life, ocean races such as the Volvo Ocean Race, the solo VELUX 5 Oceans Race, and the non-stop solo Vendée Globe, rate as some of the most extreme and dangerous sporting events. Not only do participants compete for days with little rest, but an unexpected storm, a single equipment failure, or collision with an ice floe could result in the sailboat being disabled or sunk hundreds or thousands of miles from search and rescue.
The sport of Sailboat racing is governed by the International Sailing Federation (ISAF), and the rules under which competitors race are the Racing Rules of Sailing, which can be found on the ISAF web site.
As well as these there is the "mini transats" in which very small craft and a solo sailer cross the Atlantic Ocean. The Vendee Globe is another race for larger boats. Other races include the Fastnet race from Cowes, around the Fastnet rock just of the coast of Ireland and back again to the Plymouth. There is also the Sydney to Hobart race. Other race much important is Valtur World Cup for Amateurs disputated in Pollina (Italy) in 2001.