Tacking like a Pro- Awesome Sailing Maneuvers

What is a tack? With sail boating, the wind acts as your gas/fuel and the sail itself is the engine that moves the boat. Your sheet line will be your gas pedal and also acts to pull the sail in the direction you want so as to manipulate the direction of the boat! So where does tacking play a role and how is it done?!

So you want to learn some basic sailing maneuvers like tacking but have no idea where to start! We got you covered. Whether its a wheel or tiller that is linked to the rudder  that you are seeking answers for or even just how to stop the boat, we got you! If you are typically a responsible driver on the highways, you will definitely need a good sound safety lesson in directional movement and breaking!

Coasting Into a Stop as Opposed to Stopping on a Dime

Unfortunately in sailing you will be hard-pressed to try stopping abruptly without some form of resistance from the harnessed power of the sails. That is unless you don’t crash on  island somewhere. The only other feasible way of stopping on a dime would be to heave an anchor overboard and hope it sticks a landing!

Sailboats are designed  not to have a quick breaking system. So how do you stop the boat!? Well, when you let a sheet out and luff your sails (picture a flag flapping in the wind) you have essentially let off the gas pedal and you will notice the sailboat coasting to drag out a stop. The heavier the sailboat the longer for this drag and the longer it will take for the sailboat to stop.tack

Basic Tacking

Newbie sailors tend to get nervous when the sails start to luff or flap. Reason being is that the sails start to get real loud! Add to that the sheets which are linked to the sails will start slapping around especially when the conditions get even windier.

Don’t worry though! Sails are meant to luff and flap to help you stop the sailboat! It is actually a reversal of power production so you would need them to luff! Remeber to stay  as low as you can be on board especially when that boom is rotating and moving across the boat in an arc like fashion!

Lets Sail into the Wind

Which direction can you sail? You’ll be surprised to know that you can sail in any direction. Even further, sailing straight into the wind , however doing that you will need to zig zag your way , or tack( pictured right) your way into it otherwise if you just try steering straight into it your sailboat will slow down and even eventually stop. Practice a zig zag maneuver with headwind.

How is this accomplished…First thing to do is:

  1. Locate a destination
  2. The Zig: pull your line (sheets ) inward as hard as possible without falling over
  3. Steer! a direction as near to the wind as you can and assure the sails are luffing around. You’ll know you are doing it right if the sails are stiffened up
  4. The Zag: halfway to your destination point, time to zag, or tack. This will be a ninety degree course change in which you start to turn, your sails will luff, but continue turning to complete your 90 degree turn and they will stop luffing and fill back up with wind which will now be blowing on other side of the sails. You will have accomplished the tack if you are now steering directly where your destination point had been!

Enjoying this wonderful hobby

There are so many ways to enjoy the wonderful world of sailing. You really have so many options to choose from and memories that will live with you forever. The people you meet in this sport may even change your life! Sailing romantically, the travel the moonlit nights you will experience whether it be alone or with someone else!

Where Can you learn how to Sail?! 

So you want to set sail but aren’t sure where to start. we will make sure to provide as much info as possible on this topic at Sailtack but we highly highly recommen

Lets Tack! But First..


d taking a class from a certified training school or :

books, magazines , reddit are great places to start your journey. Sailing World magazine is ideal if you really want to deep dive into the Sport of sailing and want to keep update on top notch tech and products available to help you aboard your sailboat. Others we recommend are Cruising World , Sail Magazine, Sailing, and  Yachting.

Most all sports take a both physical and mental toll . Practical will be learned on a boat when the wind coming down in your face but it never hurts to study theory offshore and keep up with the knowing’s and goings!

You can also learn on your own(disclaimer): Getting a hold of your own sailboat or borrowing someone else’s is obviously an option. Sailing is not rocket science however we recommend getting a solid foundation through the help of others.


Sailing School

Going it alone can also be dangerous so we highly advise baby steps especially when you are dealing with mother nature! As we all know coming face to face with certain conditions can cost your life if you aren’t prepared and we see accidents happen on a daily basis!

In a class setting with a pro sailing instructor: This is self explanatory. Get the help of sailors that have seen many hours on a body of water. Ask as many questions as possible and never shy away from learning an extra thing or two even when you feel as though there is nothing more to learn. There is always something to learn.

A good starting point

We believe starting on a small boat like a dinghie, would be ideal. They are naturally just less complex and way less of a hassle to lug around. You will experience more control. If you are a younger age or a junior sailor, even more of a reason to go with a smaller boat.

Most programs will use dinghies (Under 20 feet long) with a centerboard that retracts, to train. You may tip over , but best to tip over on a boat this size then any bigger!

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