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sailing - page 1


Sails are controlled by 'trimming' them, or adjusting the tension on a line known as a 'sheet' that is attached to the sail. Pulling the sheet in, or 'sheeting in' rotates the sail towards the centerline of the boat (closer to you). Trimming sails properly depends on whether or not you're sailing upwind or downwind. An easy way to think of it all is that the hull keeps us afloat and the rigging and sails keep us moving.

2.1 Sailboat design

First things first: The simple reason boats float, perhaps their most important characteristic, is because the weight of water displaced by a boat's hull is greater than the weight of the boat and everything aboard. Thus the boat is said to be buoyant. 

Second, in the broadest sense, all sailboats are the same. They vary widdy in size and shape depending on their intended purpose, such as racing, cruising, or daysailing; and within those broad categories, you will find a variety of shapes and sizes depending on the age of the boat, the opinion of its designer, and the changing trends in the marketplace. However, when they change course, when they tack or jibe, the crew aboard a 50-footer perform the same routine as on an 18-footer dinghy. And all the parts-hulls, masts and the standing rigging to support them, sails and sail-control lines-have the same names. If you can sail one boat, you can sail them all because all sailboats avail themselves of the same source of motive power in the same ways. 


Everything below the deck, including the parts above and below the water, is the hull. That part of the hull beneath the water is called the under-body, or sometimes the wetter surface. the bulging sides of the hull beneath the waterline are called the bildges. And the part of the hull between the aterline and the deck is called topsides. 

A modern sailboat can be studied and viewed from many user perspectives, including cruising, commerce, military or racing.

Regardless of its use, there are several features common to most sailboats. They are:

  • A vessel's keel, its weight and location keep the vessel from tipping over, and helps stabilize forward motion. This poor keel is so important but only on infrequent occasions do we see it – usually when the sailboat is heeled over in strong winds or hauled out for maintenance.

  • Hull design. This is perhaps the most important feature of a sailboat.

  • Rigging, standing and running. This consists of all the devices needed to control the sails. The evolution in rigging, design and materials, has been dramatic and continues to evolve.

  • Sails, the cleverly designed synthetic materials that grab and control the wind. These too, have become modern day marvels due to technology and new materials

In order to maximize sailboat efficiency and stay within production cost limits, boat designers cleverly integrate these components. The result has been an incredible evolution due to creative ideas, new construction materials and better science.

A sailboat’s hull and keel receive considerable designer’s attention since they determine the capacity of the vessel, how fast it will go and degree of safety and comfort. 

Modern hulls manufactured from composite materials that have been designed by engineers using complex computer simulation of stresses. 


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