Sailing Guide‎ > ‎

Basic Concepts and Terminology


On an extremely basic level, all sailboats function more or less the same. They can sail towards the direction that the wind is coming from (upwind), away from this direction (downwind), or across the wind (reaching).
Here are two examples of our most commonly sailed novice dinghies:

Hobie Bravo, left. Club Flying Junior (FJ), right.

While they're not identical, for the purposes of this guide, they are quite similar except for one major difference: 
              • The Bravo was designed to be sailed by one person, or "singlehanded", though it can be sailed with more than one person aboard. 
              • The FJ was designed to be sailed by two people, or "doublehanded", though more skilled sailors can sail it solo.

Essential terminology
  • Sailing dinghy - sailboat that primarily uses the weight of its crew to stay upright.
  • Port side - the left side of the boat when looking forward
  • Starboard side - the right side of the boat when looking forward
  • Windward - the side of an object that the wind is blowing onto. This can describe the position of objects in relation to the wind direction and each other, where the windward object is the one closer to the wind.
  • Leeward - the side of an object opposite to the side that the wind is blowing onto. This can describe the position of objects in relation to the wind direction and each other, where the leeward object is the one farther from the wind.

Parts of a boat
Now have a look at this labeled diagram of an FJ. You don't need to memorize all these terms immediately, but keep referring back to this page (terms link back to here) when you can't remember what part is which!

        


1) Rudder - It steers the boat
2) Tiller - It is a stick attached to the rudder to move it
3) Hiking Stick (aka Tiller Extension) - A stick that attaches to the tiller. It is what you hold on to and move side to side to turn the boat.
4) Centerboard - A large board that goes through the hull
5) Mast - A large metal pole that holds up the sails
6) Boom - A metal pole that attaches to the mast
7) Main Sail - The large sail
8) Jib Sail - The smaller sail in front
9) Main Halyard - The line that hoists (pulls up) and holds the main sail
10) Jib Halyard - The line that hoists (pulls up) holds the jib sail.
11) Outhaul - A line that pulls & holds the main sail along the length of the boom
12) Main Sheet - A line that goes from the mast to the middle of the boat. It is used by the sailor to control the main sail.
13) Boom Vang - A line that attaches between the mast and the boom. It holds the down boom at the right height.
14) Downhaul - A line that keeps the main sail tight along the mast
15) Jib Sheets - Lines that attach to the jib in order for the sailor to control them.
16) Battens - Hard sticks sewn into the sail to help the sail keep a nice shape
17) Hull - The body of the boat. It is typically made of fiberglass
18) Forestay - A metal wire that attaches to the front of the boat. It helps keep the mast upright.
19) Shroud - A metal wire that attaches to the side of the boat. It helps to keep the mast upright
20) Main Head - The top part of the main sail
21) Main Luff - The front edge of the main sail, the part of the main sail that attaches to the mast
22) Main Tack - The front corner of the main sail
23) Main Foot - The bottom part of the main sail
24) Clew - The back corner of the main sail
25) Main Leech - The back edge of the main sail
26) Jib Head - The top part of the jib sail
27) Jib Luff - The front edge of the jib sail
28) Jib Tack - The front corner of the jib sail
29) Jib Leech - The back edge of the jib sail