What Is The Best Way To Remember The Points Of Sail When Sailing?

When you learn to sail, the wind is one of the most important things you need to understand. In particular, it is essential for you to understand the points of a sail or exactly how the wind works with sailing.

In sailing, the points of sail are the No Go Zone, Close Haul, Close Reach, Beam Beach, Broad Reach, and Run. Understanding what each of these means and your sail’s position could help you push or pull your sailboat forward.

Remembering The Points Of Sail

When you are learning to sail a boat, you must understand the points of sail. Some of the terms can be confusing; I know I have been there and gotten confused.

I must remember that at whatever point of sail you sail, the wind will be blowing over one side of the boat. Here are the points of sail:

Points of Sail

To understand the points of sail, we look at what direction the wind is coming from. And when the wind is coming towards you, you have two sides the port side, which would be on the left side of the boat, and the starboard side, which is on the right. 

Here are what each of the terms means and some suggestions on how you can remember the terms:

No Go Zone – Points Of Sail

The No-Go Zone in the sailing points of sail is when the boat goes directly into the wind. Because the boat is headed straight into the wind, there is no wind in your sail, and the boat cannot move.

One of the best ways to know if you are going into the No-Go Zone is if your sail starts to luft. The sail will begin luffing, or they move back and forth, and your sailboat will not go anywhere.

If you try to sail too close to the wind or sail into the wind, your sails will luft and you will lose power; your boat will come to a stop. It can sometimes be a fine line between the No Go Zone and the Close Haul point of sail.

Close Haul Point Of Sail – Sailing Upwind

The Close Haul point of sail is when you are at the edge of the No Go Zone. For the Close Haul, you will pull your sail and your jib sail in tighter to catch the wind.

When you can remember Close Haul, as the word “haul” is used. The word “haul” means to tighten the line. So for the Close Haul point of sail, you are tightening the lines of your main sail and jib to bring the sails in tighter.

When sailing Close Haul, you are sailing upwind. 

Close Reach – Point Of Sail

The Close Reach point of sail is next to the Close Haul. The Close Reach is when the wind comes towards the boat’s front side; the wind is further out from the Close Haul, so you need to let your sail out slightly from the Close Haul.

The best way to remember this is that your sails will be out more than the Close Haul but not as far out if you were on the Beam Reach or if the wind was coming over the side of the boat.

Beam Reach Point Of Sail – Wind Across The Beam Of The Boat

The Beam Reach is when the wind blows over the boat’s beam. The boat’s beam is the area of the width of the boat at its widest part or when the wind is blowing towards the side of the boat.

The beam reach can be remembered if you remember the wind blowing over the side of the boat or blowing over the beam. For a Beam Reach, as the wind is blowing over the beam, you need to bring the sails out to catch as much wind as possible in your sails.

Broad Reach Point Of Sail – Sailing Downwind

The Broad Reach point-of-sail is when the wind is behind your boat. Or other words, when you start to feel the wind on your neck as you sail.

One way to remember the term Broad Reach is to understand the definition of the word broad. Broad means to have enough distance from side to side or bringing the sails out to the side of the boat.

Bring your sail out to catch as much wind as possible when you are on a Broad Reach. A Broad Reach is about bringing your sails out to catch the wind behind you and the back side of the boat.

In a Broad Reach, you are sailing downwind.

The Run Point Of Sail

The run for the point of sail is when the wind comes directly behind you. For a run, your sails are out entirely so that you can get as much wind as possible to push your boat forward.

For a Run point of sail, you need to be sure that the wind is blowing directly behind you.

Points Of Sail And Starboard Or Port Tack

Suppose you sail on the Close Haul. Close Reach or Beam Reach, the wind will blow over one side of the boat. If the wind blows on the starboard or the right side, you sail on the starboard tack.

If the wind is blowing on the port or the left side of the boat, you are sailing on the port tack.

Understanding where the wind is blowing from is essential when sailing. Once you understand that, you can use the points of sail to help you know if you should pull your sails in or bring them out to catch the optimum wind.

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Anita L Hummel

Hi, I live in Hanoi, Vietnam but spend time traveling the region. I love to share with you things I see and learn through my travels.

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What Is The Best Way To Remember The Points Of Sail When Sailing?