Sailing yacht manoeuvres covers the procedures of the tack and gybe. These manoeuvres are the same for sailing yachts as for dinghies but the sail handling equipment is different and the manoeuvres take longer, as a sailing yacht reacts slower than a dinghy. A sailing yacht is much larger and heavier, therefore subject to more power in the sails and greater loads on the sheets.
Boat winches are be used to sheet in the headsail, as forces are greater than what a man can handle. A sailing yacht with [ self-tailing boat winches ] can be operated by a single crew member, but an ordinary boat winch needs a crew member to turn the winch and another to do the tailing. Tailing is the act of looping the sheet or halyard around the boat winch, and pulling the end of the sheet while the winch is being turned.
With self-tailing boat winches, only one crew member is only needed to sheet in the jib after tacking. The sheet is fed into the self-tailing groove on the top of the winch, then winding the winch handle sheets the jib sheet home.
Before beginning to tack, the yacht should be sailing fast and not too close to the wind.
This allows the momentum of the boat to complete the [ tack ] . Prepare to tack by sailing on a [ close-hauled course ] with the skipper ensuring that the new course is clear.
With enough crew members, it is best to have one manning each jib sheet boat winch; otherwise, a single crew must prepare the new winch before releasing the old jib sheet. Members of the crew should make sure they know how the helmsman likes to perform the tack and the skipper should brief the crew beforehand to avoid confusion.
The helmsman should slow down the turn once the bow has passed through the wind, giving the crew time to sheet in the jib before it fills with wind. The helmsman should be careful and considerate as the yacht may turn too far on the new tack, making it more difficult for the crew to sheet in the jib when full of wind.
When gybing a yacht, the aim is to turn the stern through the wind safely and smoothly. Gybing a sailing yacht is less complicated than gybing a small dinghy. The larger boat is inherently more stable, but the gear on a sailing yacht is heavier requiring more control of the boom through a gybe. This is because the sails remain full when crossing with some force to the other side of the boat.
Prepare to gybe by sailing on a run and in strong winds with the boom pulled in tight to prevent it sweeping across the boat with the potential to cause damage or injury. On larger sailing yachts the mainsheet is winched in, except in light winds.
Downwind performance can be improved by using a cruising chute, a poled-out headsail or spinnaker. Cruising chutes or poled out headsails are preferable for family sailing yachts as they are much easier to handle than spinnakers.
The Sail Trim Sailing Simulator is an interactive application to understand the sail trim principles to be applied for efficient sailing.
With a gennaker or an asymmetric spinnaker, the tack is fixed to the bow or bowsprit, with only the sheet needing adjustment. A conventional spinnaker is more intricate, as both the guy and sheet are adjusted to trim the sail.
To maintain performance, the sheet on all downwind sails is constantly adjusted to keep the sail eased to the maximum without it collapsing. Well-cut downwind sails are eased until they curl at the luff indicating the sail is perfectly trimmed. Easing more sheet, the sail collapses and it will be necessary to pull the sheet in briskly before the sail fills again.
Once filled, ease out the sheet that has been pulled in because the sail will be over-trimmed, slowing and heeling the sailing yacht making it harder to steer and leading to a broach in stronger winds. If the crew does not wish to constantly play the sheet, the sheet should be slightly over trimmed and then cleated.
Racing crews use a dip pole gybe where the pole remains attached to the mast. When the pole is eased forward and dipped to the deck, the foredeck crew releases the old guy and inserts the new one, then the pole is hoisted again meanwhile the mainsail is gybed during the manoeuvre.
In moderate to strong winds, most sailing yachts avoid using additional downwind sails, but sail downwind under mainsail and a headsail. If the mainsail and headsail are set incorrectly, a rolling motion sailing downwind occurs.
If the wind is too strong for a spinnaker, pole the headsail out to windward when on a run or broad reach to add speed and reduce rolling.
A spinnaker broach occurs when the sailing yacht is sailing under a downwind sail in moderate to strong winds. Avoid a broach by reducing sail area in good time in moderate to strong winds.
A spinnaker broach happens when the boat is under pressure and turning forces develop overcoming the effect of the rudder. It is likely to occur in large waves, when the boat becomes unbalanced and the helmsman loses control of the boat's direction, with the boat spinning round towards the wind and heeling violently.
In moderate winds, a broach occurs when sailing on a reach under spinnaker with the sheet pulled in excessively, causing the sailing yacht to slow down and heel, indicating the first signs of a broach. If a rising wind threatens a broach, drop the spinnaker and sail under mainsail and headsail.
To regain control of a sailing yacht, that has broached violently under spinnaker with beam-on to the strong wind and the boom end in the water, let go of the boom vang and spinnaker sheet.