SailNet Community - Reply to Topic
Thread: Dinghy sailing - tacking Reply to Thread
Send Trackbacks to (Separate multiple URLs with spaces) :
Post Icons
You may choose an icon for your message from the following list:

Register Now

In order to be able to post messages on the SailNet Community forums, you must first register.
Please enter your desired user name, your email address and other required details in the form below.
Please note: After entering 3 characters a list of Usernames already in use will appear and the list will disappear once a valid Username is entered.

User Name:
Please enter a password for your user account. Note that passwords are case-sensitive.


Confirm Password:
Email Address
Please enter a valid email address for yourself.

Email Address:


Human Verification

In order to verify that you are a human and not a spam bot, please enter the answer into the following box below based on the instructions contained in the graphic.

  Additional Options
Miscellaneous Options

Click here to view the posting rules you are bound to when clicking the
'Submit Reply' button below

  Topic Review (Newest First)
08-06-2012 02:27 PM
Re: Dinghy sailing - tacking

Didn't see anyone else with this but you did remember to put the centerboard/daggerboard down didn't you?
08-06-2012 01:33 PM
Re: Dinghy sailing - tacking

Ballast in a dinghy is important too. Move to the low (leeward) side of the boat just before you start the tack. This will start the boat turning into the wind. Then move the rudder AS LITTLE AS POSSIBLE so that speed is maintained. The boat's track through the water should look like an "S", not a "Z". If you have crew, have him ease the jib slightly as move to the low side, then allow it to backwind for a time (less for more wind) with sheet in hand, uncleated, before allowing it to move to the new tack.
08-02-2012 11:16 AM
Re: Dinghy sailing - tacking

Quib Quib,

the accepted slang for the above, if you want to sound cool, is "pinching" versus "footing". The happy medium, of course is in between these two, it's a narrow "sweet spot" indeed, that's why close-hauled/beating is the most challenging point of sail, on the other points the sweet spot is pretty wide.

Often we will "foot off" a little just before the tack, as the extra fwd momentum will outweigh the slightly wider turn you have to make to get her around. Then right after the tack, you'll foot a little to get some speed, and good airflow over your sails, then "harden up" a little to point higher once you're moving. Sort of like shifting from low gear to high.
08-02-2012 03:25 AM
Re: Dinghy sailing - tacking

The "pointing too high" problem is something that took me a little while too, not to mention the fact that you'll often reach your destination faster by bearing off a little and building up/preserving boat speed. It was sailing a beach cat that really brought it home early on as they can't point worth buggery!

A good article I've found discussing "velocity made good" (or VMG) can be found here if you're looking for some details.
07-31-2012 10:54 PM
Re: Dinghy sailing - tacking

Hey thanks everyone. Great replies! I also talked offline to some of my sailing mentors and this is what they said as well:

1. Be sure your jib is inside the shrouds not outside.
2. A 45 degree point is considered average and I would feel good with that.
3. Sitting on the rails, or using a hiking strap, or moving your crew weight forward toward the keel box will help with point.
4. Old blown sails can affect point but yours looked pretty good to me.
5. Sometimes you can move faster with less point and more angle. The guy with more point can sometimes actually be moving slower though he has better point angle. That means you can arrive at your destination faster or at least at the same time as the other guy. In other words a good point doesn't always mean more speed. My Sovereign could make a 39 degree point if I made rig adjustments including mast bend) but she sailed faster at 45 degrees. Fancy racing boats (a J-24 for example) can move fast with a narrow point but they have to have a myriad of rigging adjustments to pull it off, hull design and keel design. Very good point with very good speed often means poor sailing comfort

I know for sure that I was trying to sail much to close to the wind. I am going to stick with a 45 to 50 degree angle next time.
07-24-2012 06:16 PM
Re: Dinghy sailing - tacking

Good advice from Tom. Backing the jib gets you around in light air and chop -- but it can cause trouble in heavy air unless you have really quick crew on the sheets who can blow & re-sheet in about half a second. You do NOT want a 17kt wind to yank your bows to leeward & get caught beam-to-wind on the new tack.

Our Bucc 18 can be tricky to tack thru in strong winds, esp. with any chop. Bows are the tallest part of the boat, and one wave can knock you back out of the tack or stall you in irons. Coming up to a tack, we crack the mainsheet, fall off a few degrees to pick up speed, then leave the main sheeted out as we choose a flat spot between waves. Crew should have both jib sheets in hand, if crew you have; if not, keep them both draped across one thigh.

We really snap the boat into the tack; you ain't 'shooting' very far on a crew-ballast boat. Crew should wait, wait, wait, until the boat passes thru the eye of the wind, then bail off the rail or bench and get across FAST. Helm may want to stay low side for a couple more seconds. Or you get helm across first and crew can stay on the new low side to cleat the jib, tho on all dinghies I've sailed, jib trimming is easy from the opposite rail. Anyhow, putting both people across at once risks rolling the boat back to windward & knocking the air out of your sails. (In v. strong winds, go earlier & go together.)

You should end up on a close reach, new tack. Jib sheeted home for power, and as the bow starts to dig in, helm sheets the mainsail back to close hauled as his/her bottom hits the rail -- which will bring your nose back up to it correct heading and really give the boat a kick in the fanny. It's like roll-throttling a motorcycle out of a corner. Racers don't like to oversteer cuz it loses them ground, but for singlehanders on a daysail, going close-reach to close-reach gives you more time to do what needs doing before powering on.

Marking close-hauled positions on your jib & mainsheets is good practice & lets you pre-set things before power comes on on the new tack. Sharpie permanent markers work well.

& some day, in light winds, try sailing backwards, manually backing the sails, spinning circles with the rudder and without, steering the boat by moving around the cockpit ... whatever occurs to you. Think it, do it.
. Next time it doesn't want to tack thru, you'll have a repertoire of tricks to call on. One amazing thing about windsurfers is the education they give you in that regard, and the whole bag of freestylin' tricks you can do on them. Not all of them translate to sailboats, tho I did dunk my rig in the water a few weeks ago. Oh well. Sail's clean on one side....
07-24-2012 02:55 PM
Re: Dinghy sailing - tacking

Yeah, speed before the tack is what you need. Sounds like you're running out of forward momentum before you get head-to-wind. Get up to close-hauled, get comfortable, then jam the tiller over and keep it there. The Widgeon's at least lukewarm if not a "hot" boat, she should come around.

You could head up then back the jib, but wouldn't recommend that in 17 knots, in 5-10 it'd be okay.

But you shouldn't need to. Get pointing high but footing fast, so you only have to turn 90-100 degrees. Make sure you get the jib in quick after the tack--it, not the main, is what gets your acceleration started.

In light air, learn to "roll tack", where you/crew stay on the "old' side a little longer before crossing over to the new windward side. This "pulls" the sails/mast over onto the new tack more quickly, and minimizes your luffing/no propulsion time during the tack. Watch the college racers do this, it seems their sails (at least the main anyway) go form full on old tack to full on new tack without any luffing. It's cool, and fast.
07-24-2012 02:17 PM
Re: Dinghy sailing - tacking

I don't get the "bringing the main in, then turn" part. Aren't you beginning the tack from close hauled? You should begin the tack from the highest point of sail that gives decent speed.

I remember that my Wayfarer (sloop centreboard daysailer) would be pretty much stopped after a tack. So for a short time the rudder is doing nothing, and the jib and main sheets are doing the steering (or their relative trim, to be precise).

What I found worked best is to uncleat the old jib sheet as the rudder goes over and begin the tack with the new sheet in my hand. Cleat it for the new tack as you come through the wind. That way as you come onto the new tack, both sails are properly trimmed and the boat will set itself up for the new tack and accelerate away in the proper direction until the rudder takes effect.

I also found that a slow, gentle tack was better, rather than throwing the rudder over. The slowness allows you to time the sheets correctly and thus keep good directional control.
07-24-2012 01:10 PM
Dinghy sailing - tacking

What you need is speed and the momentum that gets you to make the turn without any driving force from the wind. So you may need to fall off the wind to build speed right before the tack. I've just started sailing a small dinghy myself, and it is so much more difficult than the bigger boats I have always sailed.

Gary H Lucas
07-24-2012 12:03 AM
Re: Dinghy sailing - tacking

Sounds like the wind was hitting you on the nose and the channel too narrow to tack and make any forward progress. You need to sheet in tight to point as high as you can, dagger/centerboard needs to be down also. Other than that don't know what else you do. Admit defeat and break out the trolling motor
This thread has more than 10 replies. Click here to review the whole thread.

Posting Rules  
You may post new threads
You may post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is On

For the best viewing experience please update your browser to Google Chrome