Best Boating

Sailing Information and Resources

Once upon a time, sailing was more than just a recreational activity (though, as we've mentioned already, boating is a way of life, sailing included) but today it is primarily just that: recreational. No more are sail boats used as a means of exploration, helping explorers to venture across vast seas and oceans to discover new worlds. Today this type of sailing has been mostly replaced by boats that make use of internal combustion engines, though a few areas in the world do still make use of fishing and trading sail-powered vessels. Sailing is something that is still widely enjoyed as sailing races are not only enjoyed around the world, they have become an olympic event.

What It Is

At it's most basic, sailing is when a boat is propelled in a given direction due to the wind catching the sails of the craft. One of the oldest forms of transportation, there are artifacts depicting sailing dating as far back as 5500 BCE. Over the years sailing has improved tremendously, providing more control over the boats and the usage of more modern materials.

Point of Sail

The direction a boat is heading in relation to the direction of the wind is known as point of sail. The five main points of sale are:

  • The minimum angle of the wind that a boat can handle, usually about 45 degrees, is known as close haul.
  • The point of sail that falls between close haul and beam reach (which is around 90 degrees to the wind) is known as close reach.
  • 90 degrees to the wind is beam reach.
  • The point of sail that falls between beam reach and running (directly or close to directly downwind) is broad reach.
  • And directly downwind is running.
  • Sail Trim

    Points of sail affect how much sail trim there is. When running sails are all the way out, and when sails are pulled tight the point of sale is close hauled. Being able to correctly trim sails for the strength of wind and desired direction is one of, if not the, most important skill of a sailor.

    Trim is the aft balance and force of the boat. Ideally a sailor is able to maintain an even keel by adjusting the ballast backward and forward. On small sailboats you will often see sailors leaning forward or far back over the water.

    There are five essential aspects of sailing: Course made good, Trim, Balance, Sail Trim, and Centerboard or Daggerboard.


    As with all types of watercraft, sailing requires those venturing out onto the water to follow certain safety guidelines. Because sailing has become such a well known and widely enjoyed recreational sport, many sailing races have not only safety guidelines, but additional rules to ensure that all participants remain out of harms reach during the competition. Some standard sailing rules that should always be obeyed are that sailors should always maintain proper lookout, know if they should give way or stand on in close-quarters situations, and adjust their speed depending on the conditions.

    In addition to following basic rules, some areas may require a license to sail. It is important to know what rules apply to any area in which you may choose to go sailing.

    Sailing Resources

    For additional information on sailing guidelines, terminology, courses, and much more, visit some of the resources on sailing that have been compiled in the list below.