I love teaching about sailing angles to the wind. Some people call it “the points of sail” but I just call it the sailing angles to the wind. At first, it seems a wee-bit tricky; but it’s actually pretty simple.
When you are sailing, you are always sailing at an angle to the wind. Each angle has a name. You will need to learn these names so that you can properly communicate to other sailors. Hover over each letter next to a boat below to learn the name of each angle.
O Into-The-Wind; also called Dead-To-Wind and Head-To-Wind
A sailboat cannot sail directly into the wind. If you try, the sails will just flap wildly. The boat will stop and will even be blown backwards. You can sail in all directions, except directly into the wind.
A and K: Close-Haul
A “close-haul” sailing angle is as close to the direction where the wind comes from as you can sail. At this wind angle, you will need to make sure your sails are pulled in tight and the daggerboard/centerboard is all the way down. The boom should be pulled into a position so that the line of the boom points to the aft corner of the boat.
You typically sail at this angle to the wind if you are trying to sail to a place that is up-wind. To get to this place you will need to sail pointing in direction A, then switch over and point in the direction K. Then, you repeat and repeat this until you get to your upwind destination. You’ll learn later that this switch from A to K is called tacking. As you sail on angle A or K, you have to watch the sails closely. If they become loose, it means you are sailing too much up into the wind and so you will need to make a tiny adjustment to bear-away from the wind to fill the sails again. Keep watching. Over time you’ll get good enough to feel the boat change if it is pointed too much up into the wind. You’ll learn about this more in the section of this course called sail-trim.
Below, Finn is on a close-haul on-port. Why on-port? Because the wind is coming from the port side of the boat (you can see this becasue the sails are blown over to the starboard side).
B and J: Close-Reach
A close-reach sailing angle is when you are sailing a little bit upwind but also across the wind. Your sails will be let out just a little bit more than when compared to the A and K “close haul” sailing angle. Your boat will go pretty fast at this angle to the wind.
Below, I am on a close-reach on-port.
C and I: Beam-Reach:
A boat on a beam-reach means it is cutting exactly across the wind. The wind hits directly on the side of the boat hull. The boat moves through the water the fastest at this angle. The boat does not heel over as much as a close-haul or close reach because the sails are let out. Look at this this in the image below. To go even faster and to make steering easier, you can even pull the daggerboard halfway up.