||As they say, practice makes perfect, and there are many exercises you can perform to improve your sailing skills. We've thought of several good drills to start with, but if you want to practice a specific skill, simply design your own drill.
FIGURE EIGHT: Find two bouys lined up across the wind that you can use to practice tacking and controlling your boat in specific maneuvers. Go the other way to work on gybing.
LABS: Using the same two bouys, reach back and forth, tacking around one bouy and gybing around the other. Wheb you are between the bouys, try to sail on a reach with your helm balanced.
SAIL CIRCLES: Go through all of the points of sail by sailing in a circle. Use your rudder, sails, and weight to help the boat turn and see yow tight a circle you can sail.
OVERBOARD RECOVERY: With luck, you will never have to perform this maneuver other than for ractice, but if you do, your practice may make the difference. Besides ensuring the safety of you and your crew, this overboard recovery drill is excellent boat-handling practice. Wheb practicing, substitute a cushion or other floating object for the real thing-a person. Everyone on board should be able to perform the recovery drill, as it could be the skipper who falls overboard. Turn to a reach and keep your eye on the persom in the water. Teck around without releasing the jib; the backed jib helps you head down more sharply. Approach the person in the water slowly using the sails to control your boat's speed.
Slowing and Stopping
It's very important to know how to control the speed of your boat for docking, pecking up a mooring, sailing in traffic, and recovering a crew overboard. There are many different techniques; here are a few of them.
- Slowly head up into the wind, allowing both sails to luff and your momentum to drop. You can drop your jib when making an approach.
- Stay on a close-hauled course, but let your sails luff to slow the boat. This way makes it easy to accelerate if you need to.
- Stay on a close-hauled course, luffing the sails to slow down. Push the boom out to leeward to "back" the main, and the boat will stop.
- Make sharp "S" turns to slow the boat. You can combine this with luffing the jib or overtrimming the sails.
- Bear off to sail on a broad reach or run while trimming the main in tightly. You can also overtrim the jib or trim it to windward. You cannot stop your boat when sailing below a close reach unless you drop your sails. Never try to make a landing downwind without dropping your sails and approaching very slowly.