Topping up your sailing school skills ready for the new seasons sailing around the beautiful waters of Vancouver island, is a great way to get ready for the new season. This week our sailing school skill that we are focussing on is Sail Trimming. Raising the sails on your yacht does not take a great deal of skill, but once they are up then there is skill involved in how best to use them and there are a number of tasks to perform in order to get the best use out of the sails.
Firstly once you have pulled the sails in (tightened the sheets), they will stop flapping and you are sailing, but the skill involved is making sure you are going in the direction you want to, and setting the sails correctly to make the maximum use of where the wind is coming from. This takes practice and more practice as you learn to automatically feel where the wind is coming from. However long you have been sailing whether you are a complete novice or have been sailing for many years, you can still learn and improve all the time, which is why reminding yourself of the skills learnt at sailing school now or long ago is an invaluable lesson.
Sail trimming is an essential sailing school skill that will be covered when you do a yacht sailing course, include the following;
Feeling the wind
Of course the wind is a core element to sailing, and it changes all the time, so your ability to accurately sense changes in wind speed and direction is the most valuable sailing school skill. You need to learn how to tell what direction it is coming from by first learning how to feel the wind on your face and around you and also by looking at your surrounding; flags moving, the tell tails on the boat, the shifts on the water and how dark patches can show you a wind shift..
Knowing how best to set the sails to use the wind, in order that you are following the direction that you want to go in.
Being able to tack and jibe
Tacking a yacht (or ‘coming about’), is when you change the direction of the yacht by turning the bow of the boat up through the wind. The bow of the yacht is turned into the wind through the ‘no-go zone’ so that the direction from which the wind blows changes from one side of the yacht to the other.
Jibing the yacht is the opposite to a tack, when instead of the bow turning through the wind, the stern passes through. It is a more challenging maneuver than a tack so is often taught at sailing school after tacking has been mastered.
This is another valuable skill that all sailors learn at sailing school, it is a way of fixing the helm and sail positions in order to slow a yacht’s forward progress.
Reefing is when you reduce the amount of sail that is set in order to respond to the wind strength. It is a very important part of sail trimming and takes practice to both perform the task and judgement in knowing when and how much to sail to reef.
So as you can see, getting the sails up is easy in relation to all the sailing school skills needed in order to be able to properly trim your sails so that you are fully in control of your yacht at all times.