How to Gybe a Sailboat

Gybing is the act of turning a sailboat across the wind downwind. For example, if the wind is from the north and you are headed southeast, the wind is behind you on your port aft quarter and your sails are to starboard. If you want to turn to a westerly direction, you’ll cross the wind directly downwind and the sails will be blown to the port side.Here’s what happens when you turn the boat in a gybe: The mainsail and boom will swing across the boat from one side to the other by themselves. In a larger sailboat, or a small boat in a strong wind, this can happen very quickly and stress the rigging. The boom moving very fast can be dangerous to anything or anyone in its path. The mainsheet is then adjusted for the new point of sail. In a boat with a head sail, the jib also will be blown to the other side. The currently used jibsheet must be released to let the sail move to the other side, and the other jibsheet is brought in to trim the sail to the new heading. The Difficulty and Danger of Gybing…Gybing is more difficult than tacking, or turning across the eye of the wind, because the sails move from far out on one side to far out on the other side. If the wind is light, especially in a small sailboat, this may not be difficult. But a larger boat and even a smaller boat in a strong wind faces these difficulties and dangers: Because the boom and even the mainsheet tackle can be heavy and moving very fast during a gybe, they may injure a crew in the way. More sailors are knocked overboard by gybes than anything else on a sailboat. High stresses on the rigging and sails occur when the mainsail snaps into its new position across the boat. Rigging or the sail may

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