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A Beginner's Sailing Chalk Talk

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Being a senior comes with the honor of cherishing your senior night, the night that every underclassmen can’t wait for. However after being on the varsity swim and dive team for 5 years I decided that I wouldn’t dive for the school, even if it meant not having a senior meet. Instead I decided to sail competively. As with any sport there are techniques to help you improve. The techniques in sailing directly apply to physics. The other day as it was too windy to sail, as a team we had a discussion about the basic these technics. Our conversation began with points of sail and the different velocities that come with each. By learning the points of sail we were learning the best way to manipulate the sail to catch all the wind in order to move the boats. So obviously when a boat faces directly into the wind the sails will be unable to caught any wind, therefore if the boat is moving at all it is moving backwards, this is called irons. Now if you were to sail a little bit off the wind this in known as close hauled and a little more a close reach, these points of sail get their name because the boat are sailing close to the wind. These two points of sail are known as going up wind. When going up wind the sails are pulled all the way in, the more you’re off the wind you are the more you can let your sail out.  Now when the boat is perpendicular to the wind this is known as a beam reach since the wind is crossing directly over the beam of the boat. This point of sail is the transitions between upwind and down wind. Now if the was to head down wind there are two points of sail, one is called a broad reach and the next is called running. Running is when you are directly downwind. After knowing the points of sail we can now learn the velocity that comes with each. At this chalk talk we learned that a broad reach is the fastest point of sail. This makes a lot of sense because there the sail is almost all the way out and is capable of being all the way full of wind and the boat is not fighting to go against the wind since it has moving in the same direction as the wind. Many sailors may believe a close reach is the fastest since it feels the fastest. This is only due to the apparent speed the boat create. As a sailor you feel the wind that is coming towards you and the wind of you moving hence the apparent speed. The ultimate goal is to get a “lift” when sailing this is only possible when the boat is moving at its maximum speed. A lift is when the boat is able to come out of the water and glide above water. If you get really good some boats may look like the one below.

points of sail.jpg


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