While sailboats can sail upwind, they cannot sail directly into the wind. Presuming you want to sail to a point (perhaps a dock) directly upwind from you, instead you must sail a 'zig-zag' course to get there. This is known as beating.
A sailboat sailing upwind changes direction by performing a tack (yes, there are two different definitions for the same word), a maneuver where the bow of the boat rotates through the wind direction, causing the boat to go from pointing diagonally upwind with the wind on one side of the boat to the other side of the boat.
How to Perform a Tack
- Initiate a gradual turn towards the wind by gently pushing the tiller away from you (towards the sail) using the tiller extension/hiking stick.
- While the boat is turning, stand up on the 'old side' and step across the boat without letting go of either the mainsheet or tiller extension/hiking stick.
- Once the sail(s) switches sides (aka tacks), sit down on the 'new side' opposite the sail(s).
- Center the tiller immediately to stop the boat from turning and re-establish a straight course, looking forwards to ensure that you're now traveling in a straight line.
- Slide your sheet-holding hand aft along the mainsheet to reach the tiller extension/hiking stick.
- Once you've grabbed the tiller extension/hiking stick with your 'old' sheet hand, let go of it with your 'old' tiller hand.
- At this point your 'old' sheet hand becomes the 'new' tiller hand, and it will be holding both the sheet and tiller extension/hiking stick.
- Grab the sheet with your 'old' tiller hand.
- Make sure your sail(s) is trimmed correctly and adjust if necessary.
|Here's a great video showing how it's done by Philip Worth from inside a dinghy similar to our Lasers. Note that the last two maneuvers after 1:17 are actually gybes and not tacks
||Here's a video showing how it's done in a Laser at around 1:00 and 1:38|