Started Sailing

Tacking a Single Handler

by Ed
(Little Rock, AR)

Describe a smooth tack on a small single sail monohull. Do you face forward or aft? How do you transfer the mainsheet and tiller from one hand to the other?

Hi Ed,

Luckily I was sailing a single handler very recently, so I can answer you question with relative ease.

Firstly, you would check for any boats that would impend you way. Then you put your body weight slightly to leeward to start the roll. When the mainsail begins to flap sit on the old windward side so that the boat rolls. Finally sit back up on the new windward side with the tiller extension behind you. When ready, change hands.

Throughout the entire manoeuvre you must face forward (unless you are sailing an aftmain boat).

The way I change hands, is to take the hand that is holding the mainsheet down towards the back of the boat and hold on the the tiller. I then let go of the tiller with my tiller hand and hold on to the mainsheet. With my new tiller hand, I flip the tiller extension over and let go of the mainsheet.

Best Regards,

Comments for Tacking a Single Handler

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Sep 07, 2009
Ok so far
by: Ed

Thanks Alex.

I understand your explanation so far and have tried the tiller extension/mainsheet exchange and that's fine.

My awkwardness is in getting the tiller extension flipped and behind my back. Could you explain the sequence with a palm down hold on the extension directly in front of your chest (like a microphone)... and also starting with the extension under your armpit.


Sep 08, 2009
Flipping the tiller extension
by: Alex

I have a way that is not strictly as it is meant to be done and when you ask lots of people, they will have ways of doing it differently.

The way I do it is just to move forward a little bit and pull my arm around the side of my body and then shift my grip.

So say we have just tacked from starboard to port. My right hand is holding the tiller extension after changing hands, but it is still behind my back. I move forward, so that I can get my hand in front of me and then change my grip back into dagger.

Hope this helps, but remember everyone has their own way of doing it and you must find your own way.

Best Regards,

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