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Names of Thingys in Sailing

Have fun with this animation. Test yourself on what a label is then tap on it. The name will appear.

On a sailboat, there is a lot of terminology and we recognize that there is too much to learn immediately. In reality, you don’t need to. As you go sailing more often the terminology will start to come naturally to you. But we would be remiss if we did not at least give you a place to refer back to to see the definitions.

Ultimately, you will need to know all this stuff but for now, have a glance at this list and see how many you recognize. As you go through the course feel free to jump back here.

Names of Other Thingys in Sailing

  • Bear Away – Steer the boat more in a downwind direction.
  • Boom – The thing that hits you on the head (aptly named).
  • Clew – The bottom aft eyelet in the sail.
  • Come Up – Steer the boat more in an upwind direction.
  • Cunningham – A final device to downhaul on the main sail after it has been hoisted. Adjust the leading edge tension.
  • Fairlead – A block between the clew and the winch that the jib sheet passes through. Controls leech tension in the jib sail.
  • Foot – The bottom edge of the sail.
  • Forestay – The front stay connected at the bow to the top of the mast.
  • Genoa – A head sail where the foot of the sail is longer than the distance from the mast to the bottom forestay connection.
  • Halyard – The vertical line attached to the top of the sail to hoist it up and to create vertical leading edge tension.
  • Head – The top eyelet in the sail.
  • Jib Sail – A head sail where the foot of the sail is shorter than the distance from where the mast sits on the deck to the bottom forestay connection.
  • Jib sheet – These are the lines that lead from the bottom aft (clew) of the head sail back to the cockpit. There is one on either side of the boat. They let out or bring in the jib sail or genoa.
  • The Leech – The trailing edge of the sail.
  • Leeward – A direction downwind from your current position.
  • The Luff – The leading edge of the sail.
  • Mainsheet – The line that leads from the boom to the traveler. It lets out and brings in the mainsail.
  • Mast – The big stick up the middle.
  • Outhaul – The line attached to the clew (bottom aft) of the sail running to the aft end of the boom.
  • Sheet – A line that lets the sail out or brings the sail in.
  • Sheet in – Tightening up on the sheets.
  • Sheet Out – Letting out the sheets.
  • Stay – A cable running from the boat deck to the top of the mast.
  • Tack – The bottom forward eyelet in the sail.
  • Traveler – A block sliding on a rail running across the boat. The mainsheet connects from the traveler to the boom. Controls leech tension in the main sail.
  • Trim – Tightening up on the sheets.
  • Heading Upwind – Heading at any angle from 30 degrees to 89 degrees off the wind. Often means heading on a close haul (at about 30 degrees off the apparent
  • Wind Backing – The wind direction moves counterclockwise. e.g. if it was coming out of the north, now it is coming out of the northwest.
  • Wind Veering – The wind direction moves clockwise. e.g. if it was coming out of the north, now it is coming out of the northeast.
  • Windward – A direction upwind from your current position.

And looking at a sail, here are some names you’ll eventually become familiar with.

Jib Sail Components

Figure 1.1 Components of the Jib Sail


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Source: Basic Sail Trim
Topic: Sails and Sail Trim
Authors: Grant Headifen, NauticEd Global Director of Education
NauticEd is a fully recognized education and certification platform for sailing students combining online and on-the-water real instruction (and now VR). NauticEd offers +24 online courses, a free sailor's toolkit that includes 2 free courses, and six ranks of certification – all integrated into NauticEd’s proprietary platform. The USCG and NASBLA recognize NauticEd as having met the established American National Standards.