Your sailboat’s points of a sail refer to the angle between your heading and the direction from which the wind is coming. For safe and efficient sailing, you must always be aware of that angle, because it affects how you control your rudder and sails.

Head to Wind

When your sailboat’s heading is straight into the wind, the sail’s luff and you lose all headway. Because there is no pressure on the sails, this is the ideal angle for setting or furling. Because the boat stops, this is the ideal angle for dropping or weighing the anchor or picking up an object or person lost overboard.
Sails: free to luff

Close Hauled

At this point of sail, when your boat’s heading is just far enough off the wind to begin to sail, you are sailing close-hauled. In a sailboat, this is an angle of 30° off the wind but may change slightly depending on wind strength and the size and shape of the waves. The sails are hauled in as close to the boat as they can be.
Sails: all the way in

Close Reach

At these points of sail, the crew must keep the sails trimmed properly. This term refers to any heading between close-hauled and 60° off the wind.
Sails: continually trimmed to be as far out as they can be without luffing

Beam Reach

At these points of sail, the crew must keep the sails trimmed properly. When your boats heading is 90° off the wind, you are sailing on a beam reach. This is the fastest point of sail.
Sails: continually trimmed to be as far out as they can be without luffing

Broad Reach

At this point of sail, the crew must keep the sails trimmed properly. This term refers to any heading between 90° and 180° off the wind (see beam reach and running).
Sails: continually trimmed to be as far out as they can be without luffing or putting too much pressure on the shrouds

Running

At this point of sail, the crew must pay careful attention to the trim of the sails. When your boat’s heading is exactly opposite the direction from which the wind is coming (180° off the wind) you are running. The sails fly best on opposite sides. Sailing this way there is no sideways force on the boat keel.
Sails: continually trimmed to be as far out as they can be without putting too much pressure on the shrouds

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