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How to Jibe

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1. How sails work
2. Points of sail
3. Apparent Wind
4. Sailing Against the Wind
5. How to Tack
6. How to Jibe
7. Knots

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There are many ways to jibe your sail, we do it different ways for different things. We can jibe to maintain as much speed as possible, or we can jibe as safely as possible, or to maintain a straight course, and there are many other ways.

"Prepare to Jibe!" is very important. Everyone must prepare themselves for the boom, boom vang and mainsheet to come quickly across the cockpit and make sure they are ready and will be out of the way. They should respond "Ready". The helmsman, after checking to see if they really look ready, announces the turn with "Helm's to windward" or something. At the moment before the sail is blown across, a "Jibe HO!" should be given.

One good way to jibe safely is to minimize the heeling force produced by the sails. Reducing the wind speed can work well, and running downwind will reduce the windspeed and amount of heel. I prefer to let out the sail all the way, turning the heeling force into forward pull. As you see in this video, the boat heels very little, but the wind was light, 5-10 mph. At 20 mph with 4 times the power, safety is more important, and body weight position plays a larger role.
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Click for How to Jibe Video, 32MB
Click for How to Jibe video

We balance the heeling force with our body's position, so in a small boat we should move our bodies to the positions needed to balance the boat at the propler time. In a jibe the healing force can go quickly from one side to the other, so if we move our bodies from one side to the other at the same time, the boat may remain balanced and upright. There are many variables, and practice really helps. Higher wind equals more heeling force. The closer the sail is to the boat, the more heeling force.

A Laser often weighs less than the sailor, so having your body in the right positon at the right time becomes very important. In this video you will see a very good sailor, who puts his body in the correct position before the sail powers up after the jibe. His reaction time is less than zero, because he knows what forces to expect long before the sail jibes. He uses the time when the sail jibes and not powered to finish repositioning his body and be ready for the sudden increase in force when the sail powers on the new side. Notice the boat doesn't heel at all, this sailor is very good. He not only puts his body in the right place, he does it at the right time.

Note how he has the sail quite far out. This minimizes the heeling force and maximizes the forward force, the boat goes fast, does not heel much and he has enough body weight to balance the heeling force without hiking his body far out to one side.

Now watch it again, because in the jibe the sailor must also change hands. His tiller hand becomes the mainsheet hand, and vice versa. The tiller extension must be in the right postion to change, and when done correctly neither the tiller nor the mainsheet are let go. Can you see how it's done? It is hard to see in this video, but in the third jibe you can see the tiller extension change sides very early to prepare for switching hands.

How to jibe a Laser. Dunedin, New Zealand

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