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post #1 of 21 Old 08-07-2014 Thread Starter
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knockdown vs. capsize vs. broach

Can someone help me understand the differences between these three terms? Even the mighty Wikipedia has left me scratching my head a little. Thank you!!
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post #2 of 21 Old 08-07-2014
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Re: knockdown vs. capsize vs. broach

Knockdown - Storm comes up and you didn't reef, drop sails quick enough. Strong wind gust, your boat is knocked on its side i.e. 90 degrees. Usually come right back up but can lead to .....

Capsize - Boat rolls over mast points down keel points up. The boat may or may not right itself depending on design.

Broach - Might not have this one right but, my understanding is the stern swings to one side leaving the boat pointing in a direction 90 degrees or so from what it's heading was. Best example would be running with the wind, wave catches stern, stalls the rudder, stern is moving faster than the bow, stern swings to one side and now you're parallel to the waves. This can also happen with weather or lee helm and sudden strong gusts of wind.
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post #3 of 21 Old 08-07-2014
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Re: knockdown vs. capsize vs. broach

Broach - boat is pushed to an extreme angle of heel (40+) - usually by wind

Kockdown - boat is pushed to an very extreme angle of heel (50+) - usually wind or wave. Boat may right itself. (boat was knocked down, but popped right back up)

Capsize - boat is turned upside down (90+)

Others will weigh in, and tell you something different
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post #4 of 21 Old 08-07-2014
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Re: knockdown vs. capsize vs. broach

Knockdown - boat goes over, might splash the occupants, usually comes with a burst of air/gust... sometimes water over the railing, into the cockpit (no biggy).

Broach - you, like an idiot (sorry chastising my self on this one) decided that steering UP with the spinnaker up and oscillating, was smarter than steering down, usually directly preceding is a massive gybe, then an overcorrection by an over-zealous helmsman (pronounced massive NEWB) spin rolls hard to leeward, pulling you down with the gybe, then HOLDING your boat down, generally filled with water like a HUGE sea anchor. Broaches are FUN, because unlike a knockdown where you bounce right back up again, the broach will hold you down until you FIX your stupid mistake (hint RELEASE THE HALYARD YOU NITWIT, again sorry that was for me).

Capsize - generally reserved to board boats (centerboard), as keel boats generally remain upright and tend to get that way without a broach... boat is over mast in water, sometimes upside down (turtle), usually for a capsize. Again a keel boat doesnt' like to be that way, the keel makes sure of it. Now if you are unlucky enough to have your keel fall off (all due respects to the recent tragedy with the Beneteau 40 Cheeky Rafiki) then capsize is nearly unavoidable. its not unusual to capsize a laser, a sunfish, a 505, or even a decent number of smaller day sailors... all centerboarders. It's POSSIBLE to capsize a keelboat, but it requires the cabin to fill with water, or lazarettes or both. Look up J/24 capsize, and you'll see what I mean. My Capri 25 also has a similar design flaw, where the lazarettes open to below, and can flop open on a knockdown, fill with water, scuttle the boat, or capsize it, or worse yet, sink it.

Hope that's clear.

Knockdown (looks like they were attempting to do this intentionally):
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w00suzaDh_A

Broach (in glorious fashion, note he too steered to high with the spin up)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fJy7HVDz2OI

Capsize, note they gybed, but were still to low, a scramble to high side would have kept them dry! Boat looks similar to my Capri 14.2. Start watching around 1 minute. If you watch it through, you'll note the crew waited until they got to shallow water to get back aboard (cheating, its a real PITA to get aboard once its totally righted, easier to ride your way up while it's righting).
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xl9hFqCN840
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post #5 of 21 Old 08-07-2014
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Re: knockdown vs. capsize vs. broach

How about
broach - rail in the water
Knockdown - mast in the water
capsize - keel in the air
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post #6 of 21 Old 08-07-2014
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Re: knockdown vs. capsize vs. broach

Agree with above.

Capsize means the hull has lost stability and ain't coming back up.

Broach to me means you got sideways to forces of wind, or sea, or both that you shouldn't have, and are being rolled, or held down. this can be either from a knockdown (heeled way to leeward and headed up too high off that run) or from a bear-off-too far with kite up, deep roll to windward which quickly becomes leeward in a crash jibe, and a broach as you head "up" on your new involuntary tack to where you're beam-on to the seas and new leeward rail deep in the water (also affectionately known as the "death roll" or the "burnout").


Wait, are we sure we want to get into all this gory stuff in the "Learning to Sail" forum??? ;-)

Last edited by nolatom; 08-07-2014 at 09:57 AM.
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post #7 of 21 Old 08-07-2014
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Re: knockdown vs. capsize vs. broach

You don't need sails or a spinnaker to broach. Ever had one of those real sporty landings taking the dink to the beach through the surf?

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post #8 of 21 Old 08-07-2014
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Re: knockdown vs. capsize vs. broach

Here's a definition: "broaching" - The unplanned turning of a vessel to expose its side to the oncoming waves. In heavy seas this could cause the boat to be knocked down.

So, this is something that can happen when sailing on a broad reach or run. The action of the wind and or waves pushes the stern down and you end up broadside on to the following wind and waves. This can then lead to a "knock down" where the mast goes horizontal (in the water) and maybe a capsize if the boat turns upside down.

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post #9 of 21 Old 08-07-2014
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Re: knockdown vs. capsize vs. broach

Broach: "That was some sh*t."

Knockdown: "That was some bad sh*t!"

Capsize: "OH, S H I T !!!!!!!!!!!!"
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post #10 of 21 Old 08-07-2014
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Re: knockdown vs. capsize vs. broach

"Broach - boat is pushed to an extreme angle of heel (40+)"

Wait... 40 degrees is extreme angle of heel? I tend to start thinking that maybe it's about time to start adjusting my sail trim at about 45 degrees. But I'm new at this. Should I try to keep heeling to a lesser amount?
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