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a boat heeling

Sailing is a fun past time that can contain elements of relaxation, adrenaline and unfamiliarity. If you have never sailed before, you might find some of the aspects of sailing slightly odd and perhaps a little challenging. A good example is that a sailing boat doesn’t always sail “upright” and can lean to one side (called heeling). It may feel odd, but when you understand the dynamics it makes sense and is somewhat comforting.

A boat uses two opposing forces: the wind (there’s a surprise) and it’s righting movement (normally it the shape of the keel). This opposes the wind pressure and wants to keep the boat upright, so what you get is something in between and the boat moves forward. As the wind increases, the boat leans more. This has the effect of allowing less wind to fill the sails as there is less area for the wind to catch, and the boat naturally tries to balance the conditions using the heeling of the boat. In reality, we don’t want too much, but 20% – 25% is a good value. To maintain this, we can also reduce the sail size with reefing and other controls if the wind picks up. The picture above shows about as much heel as we would want.

At Devon Sailing Experiences, we use all or part of the first day to introduce you to the basic techniques and to get a feel of how the boat moves through the water which allows you to be more accustomed and ultimately to enjoy the experience more. If we have experienced guests, we still go through the same procedure (albeit it a bit quicker) as one boat is different to another. Don’t forget, all our experiences come with a fully qualified skipper / trainer , so you can take part in as much (or as little) sailing as you choose.