Gybing for Dummies

There is a reason you learn gybing after you can do tacking.

It is very hard in heavy winds.

It is when you turn onto another tack when you are running.

This happens, because the wind is behind you and so when you turn the boat even further leeward, the wind will push against main sail on the other side causing to snap to the other side.

Lets go through what happens during the manoeuvre:

  • First the rudder is pulled towards the helmsman, causing the boat to go leeward
  • Next the genoa changes sides (called a goose-wing). you are now on a dead run with wind directly behind you
  • Finally the wind exerts pressure on the other side of the main sail causing to swing across the boat
  • The sails catch the wind and the boat turns slightly windward
  • You continue sailing on a different tack

Thats practically it.

Of course the crew and helm have different parts to play, but you can see that in their individual pages.

Note that it doesn't matter how fast or slowly you are going, you can always do it.

But if it is too windy, you could go head to wind and tack then go back on to your run.

You would now be on the opposite tack!

Of course this in only useful in high winds when you can speed up again easily (tacking is very slow).

Improver's Gybing (Tips and Tricks)

This manoeuvre gives you a huge boost in speed if you get it right, usually ending up in you going faster out then going in.

This usually occurs in light winds when it is beneficial to 'work the boat'.

Working the boat is an important skill in both high winds and low winds.

For instance if you are stuck in someone's dirty wind, in light wind, you could very easily stop.

Instead do the manoeuvre, which will give you a burst of speed and find an area with clear wind.

Another important feature, which you may have encountered on the Tacking Page is roll gybing.

It is similar to roll tacking in that it further increases gybing exit speed, but in their execution they are nothing alike.

Lets go through this:

  • First, get onto a dead run
  • Next, holding the tiller still, both the crew and the helm move to the windward side
  • This causes the boat to naturally move leeward
  • The mainsail swings across and the boat heels even more than normal
  • The crew stays down and the helm rights the boat

If you do it right you should be able to here whooshing sound as you accelerate very quickly.

Of course you might also be thinking "what do I do with the genoa?"

When I am crew, I have always taken the genoa off before I move to windward and then just as we do it, pull the genoa across.

This is a very good tactic, because it means that the moment you do it, the genoa is already correctly set, which boosts you even more.

If it is not correctly set quickly, then like in tacking, you will lose the extra boost.

And that is it everyone!

Of course practice makes perfect, especially for newcomers. Get out on a boat and practice your tacking and gybing.

For improvers follow the roll gybing guide as it really gives you that extra push that you need to get ahead.

As you already should know every boat length counts and you should do whatever you can to maximise your speed.

To see the other sailing manoeuvre, click here to see Tacking

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