The task of becoming sea-worthy

Jibing – Basics

Jibing – Things To Know:

Jibing changes the direction through the wind by taking the stern through the wind.  It enables one to change from a broad reach on one tack (direction) to a broad reach in another tack (direction).

Jibing successfully is challenging due to the possibility of capsizing the boat.  The centerboard provides no lateral resistance on a run, making the boat unstable.  Proper weight distribution is necessary.

1.  Operating as a team, the helmsman gives the preparation order: “Prepare to Jibe?”

2.  As the crew prepares to balance weight in the middle of the boat, they respond: “Ready.”

3.  The helmsman steers the boat so the end of the boom crosses directly into the direction of the wind.

4.  Helsman and crew duck below the crossing boom as they prepare to take sail on the new side, sitting and balancing effectively.

Both the mainsail and the jib will need to be adjusted.  The mainsail is first centered, the turn is made, then the mainsail is let out.  The jib’s working sheet is changed and the new working sheet is winched.

Unlike the tack, the sail will cross quickly to the new side without any luffing (flapping), and in a strong wind this sudden change of wind pressure from one side of the boat to the other can cause a capsize if precautions are not taken.

1.  Move the tiller to windward.  Immediately reach around behind your back with the forward hand to  hold the tiller to windward.

From Port Tack to Jibe to Starboard Tack

At the same time, adjust your weight to the centerline of the boat again facing towards the bow, preferably in a deep-knee squat as to keep your head below the moving boom.

Enter a deep broad reach.  This is a point of sail just before the jib starts to luff (flap) as the mainsail masks the jib’s wind.

2.  Turn the boat directly downwind in a run and sail ‘wing on wing’.

3.  Now you can switch the jib & working jib’s sheet to the outer side of the boat.

4.  Adjust the jib for a new point of sail.

5.  Center the mainsail and jibe the boat.  Unlike coming about, the boat only needs to be turned a few degrees to allow the mainsail to be switched to the other side.

6.  After the mainsail swings to the opposite side, quickly ease the sheet (the rope which controls the sail)and trim the main for the new tack (direction).

Unlike a tack, a large change of course is not necessary for a jibe to occur. If the boat is already sailing on a RUN (a course where the wind is at the stern) a change of course of a few degrees or a wind shift of a few degrees, can cause a jibe.

Extra information:

Because the boom and even the mainsheet tackle can be heavy and moving very fast during a jibe, they may injure a crew in the way. More sailors are knocked overboard by jibes than anything else on a sailboat.

High stresses on the rigging and sails occur when the mainsail snaps into its new position across the boat. Rigging or the sail may be damaged, including breaking a shroud or stay—which could even cause a dismasting.

With a large jib bellied out ahead of the forestay, the sail may wrap around in front of the forestay during the jibe. Friction and the wind can pin the sail against the forestay, preventing it from coming out cleanly on the other side.

Prevent Accidental Jibes

When sailing downwind, there is always a danger of an accidental jibe due to a wind gust, a wave suddenly turning the boat, or a steering error. To prevent this, use a line to hold the boom in place so that it cannot move across the boat.

This line, called a preventer, can be rigged in various ways depending on the boat. It can be as simple as a dock line tied to the boom and a cleat or stanchion forward of the mast. Permanent preventers can be rigged from the boom on both sides, running forward to blocks at the rail and then back to the cockpit. Such preventers can be left in place, cleated tight in the cockpit on the lee side as needed and released on the windward side until needed.

Jibing Still Dangerous even with a Preventer

A preventer does not keep the boat from turning across the wind—it only prevents the boom from crossing the boat. Should the boat turn across the wind, the mainsail will back and it will be difficult to control or turn the boat, especially in a strong wind. It is therefore important to steer very carefully downwind and, when practical, to sail a broad reach rather than a run to avoid the risk of an accidental jibe.


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