beam reaching

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Point of Sail
Point of Sail
A sailing craft's direction of travel under sail in relation to the true wind direction over the surface
Points of Sail
Key points include beating, close reach, beam reach, broad reach, and running downwind
Wind Angle Zones
Approximately 45° on either side of the wind is a no-go zone where a sail is unable to mobilize power
Sail Forces
Sails provide lift when angled with airflow parallel to the surface and drag when airflow is perpendicular
A beam reach is when the true wind direction is exactly perpendicular (90°) to the sailing craft's direction of travel. On a beam reach:
  • The sails are let out halfway, with the mainsail trimmed to the centerline and the jib/genoa sheeted out until it stops fluttering.
  • It is generally an efficient and fast point of sail for most boats.
  • The apparent wind is at a 90° angle to the boat, generating maximum lift and propelling the boat at its highest potential speed.
  • The boat is not heeled over much, so less effort is needed to counteract heeling compared to sailing closer to the wind.
  • The helmsman steers a straight course by watching the wind vane or telltales to keep the apparent wind at 90°.
To properly trim for a beam reach, the crew first eases the sails out from their close-hauled position until the luff starts fluttering. Then the helmsman bears away onto a beam reach course, and the crew pulls in the jib sheet until the jib stops fluttering and is properly trimmed. The mainsail may need some minor trimming as well to stop any flutter in the luff.
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