Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: SF Bay area
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No, but it's associated with heaving-to. Ideally when you're hove-to, you should drift slowly directly downwind. If you're not balanced properly, or if you boat is just really not good at heaving-to, then it might make some progress in the direction it's pointed (forward) as well. This is fore-reaching.
The reason you want to go directly downwind is that the water that flows past your keel as you drift forms vortices that don't transport normal sea wave energy very well, so you leave behind a "slick" of relatively calm water, directly upwind of you. Since this is where dangerous waves usually come from, those waves tend to die down a bit before they get to you. Most importantly, they're much less likely to break on you.
If you're fore-reaching, you're effectively constantly sailing out of this slick, and so you lose its protection.
s/v Laelia - 1978 Pearson 365 ketch