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Old 05-02-2012
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Re: Tacking in heavy winds

Generally, you need at least an overlapping headsail to be able to sail to windward and to tack, but the better alternative is to use a mainsail and jib. You need to balance the CE (center of effort of the sails) against the CLR (center of lateral resistance of the keel). If all or most of the force on the sails is forward of the CLR, then the boat will bear away, downwind. The boat needs some force aft of the CLR to enable it to point to windward.

A sailboat pivots on its keel. If all the force on its sails is exerted only on the bow of the boat, the bow will bear away downwind, yielding to the force of the wind. If roughly equal forces are exerted on both the bow and stern, then the boat will maintain the same stance in relationship to the wind, the keel will resist the lateral force exerted by the wind on the sails, and the boat will "squirt" forward.
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