Tips for Getting the Most Wind Power in Your Sails

How to Trim Sails Upwind

In this sailing basics video you learn how to properly trim sails when sailing upwind.

Want to master the basics of sailing? Take our Learn to Sail Course and learn the most efficient way to sail towards where the wind is coming from.

How to Trim Sails Downwind

In this trimming sails video you learn how to trim your sails for easy sailing when the wind is behind the boat and pushing you downwind.

Want to learn more? Take our Learn to Sail Course and learn the proper way to trim sails when sailing with the wind behind you.

How to Jibe a Sailboat

In this adjusting sails video you learn how to properly handle the sails when you move the boat through the wind. This is called jibing and when done right, there is little strain on the lines or the crew.

Want to learn more? Take our Learn to Sail Course or our Performance Sailing Course and learn the proper way to safely adjust your sails from one side to the other when the wind is behind you.

How to Use a Winch

In this video, Offshore Sailing School founder, Steve Colgate, shows you how to properly use a winch for trimming sails. Winches aboard a sailboat give you great purchase power. In this tip you learn how to load a winch and use it properly with safety in mind. Take a look at this video and remember these helpful hints:

  • Place about three turns of the jibsheet leading from the clew of the sail around the winch drum
  • Load it with one hand in a circular motion in a clockwise direction
  • If you have a self-tailing winch, run the jibsheet through the self-tailing groove and jam it into the cleat on top of the drum
  • Now put the winch handle in the socket hole on the top of the drum and turn it to trim (pull in) your sail
  • With most winches, you must take the winch handle out when you are finished trimming so you can easily add extra turns and release the line safely without the handle getting in the way or spinning out of control

Want to learn more? We start teaching you the right way to handle winches in our Learn to Sail Course and continue this process with bigger winches in all of our Cruising Courses.

How to Adjust the Fairlead on a Loaded Jibsheet

In this video you can see an easy way to fine-tune a jib lead without having to tack or use creative knots.

  • While underway, grab the lazy sheet, take it outboard of the lifelines on the leeward side, and cleat it to the midship cleat
  • Transfer the load by easing the working sheet until it is slack
  • Slide the jibsheet car on the track to the desired point and lock it in place
  • Trim the working sheet and uncleat the lazy sheet
  • Undo the cleat holding the lazy sheet and take the slack out that line

Want to learn more? In all our sailing courses you learn how to adjust your sails for good sail trim, always with safety and crew comfort in mind. Take our Fast Track to Cruising Course and get the skills to sail and cruise with confidence.

How to Handle Jib Furling Systems

In this video you learn how to furl and unfurl the jib without overworking your equipment and crew. Here are some helpful hints:

  • Unfurl your jib on a reach, which allows the wind to help bring out the sail
  • As the jib unfurls, keep a little tension on the furling line, using a winch or cleat, to prevent an override or help you bring the jib out partially for sailing with reduced sail area in a lot of wind
  • To easily furl the jib, take all the power out of the sail by blanketing it with the mainsail on a deep broad reach

Want to learn more? All our sailboats have roller furling jibs and genoas, so whether you are just getting into sailing basics with our Learn to Sail course or moving up to big cruising boats with our Live Aboard Cruising Course or Bareboat Charter Course, you learn the proper and easy way to furl and unfurl jibs and genoas.

How to Remove Lazy Jacks to Easily Hoist the Mainsail

In this video you learn how to clear away lazy jacks on a cruising boat when you want to hoist your mainsail. Here are some helpful hints:

  • Remove one side of the jacks
  • Then steer the boat so the sail falls out on the side where the jacks have been cleared
  • If you cleared the jacks on the port side, steer the boat with the wind on the starboard bow (and vice versus)
  • Once the sail is hoisted, it’s easy to reset the jacks to capture the mainsail when you lower it

Want to learn more? Take a Fast Track to Cruising Course with Offshore Sailing School and practice techniques that make sail handling on big boats easy.

How to Heave-To

In this video you learn how to stop your boat underway for a lunch break or rest in heavy wind conditions, without having to douse your sails and anchor. Here are some helpful hints:

  • Turn the boat slowly into the wind until the jib is fully backed
  • As the sail backs, take in the extra slack in the jibsheet and over-trim the jib
  • When the jib is fully backed, keep an eye on your course and wait a few moments while the boat loses way and the keel and rudder start to stall
  • The boat should now be balanced and moving very slowly
  • Since you may still be advancing a couple of knots, jumping in for a swim is not a good idea

Want to learn more? You practice how to heave-to in the Learn to Sail Course and continue to use it while learning on bigger cruising boats in all of our Cruising Courses. You never know when the wind pipes up and you need a break, or just want to pull out sandwiches for lunch underway. Learn how to do this right the first time, and add a key maneuver to your confidence list.



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