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Sailing Jibe Definition and Review

Jibing/gybing is one of the key moves in sailing. However, there are some misconceptions and misleads about it that confuse sailors. The following, therefore, is an authentic introduction to what a Sailing Jibe is and how one can perform it individually. Following these instructions will make you a master of jibing.

Sailing Jibe Definition and Review

Sailing Jibe Definition and Review

British people call it gybing, but we Americans prefer to entitle it jibing—although the pronunciation is identical. But regardless of the name, it’s always been one of the main nautical maneuvers and, therefore, learning what is a jibe in sailing is elemental. So, here at Sailingyes, we’d like to lend a hand with that.

The following is an article about all the altered aspects of this practice—containing a how-to manual for beginners as well.

Technical Description

A jibe in sailing is a move that allows the boat to turn from one side of the wind to the other while having the airstream behind it. In fact, jibing is only possible when the stern of the watercraft is aimed at the current of air. This is while tacking is the other extreme of the action with the bow of the vessel facing the airstream.

Since the spinnaker and lower parts of the mainsheet are under full power during the procedure, flicking happens rapidly. However, mariners always start the practice when on a Training Run to avoid intense turns. Indeed, they gybe only when the craft is 150 degrees away from the wind. (See below).

This would slow down the flicking process to a reasonable speed where it’s not unexpected anymore. Therefore, they don’t lose control of the boom/spare and end up evading capsizing even though the full-power mainsheet eventually flicks quite rapidly.

The Role of Sailing Points in Gybing

The Role of Sailing Points in Gybing

There are seven core sailing points which indicate the interrelation of your craft and the air path. So, each of them, in fact, tells you what’s your existing spot according to the wind. Training Run, for example, is a situation where your boat is 150 degrees away from the air path. This is a suitable setting for performing a sailing jibe as the wind will not get to pass through the mainsheet intensely, impeding the capsize.

So, as the skipper, you must always be aware of the air path to decide what to do next accordingly. You could utilize marine gadgets to detect the airflow, and/or use environmental clues for that. Here’s a guide on determining the airstream path that will teach you how to take care of this task.

If, for whatsoever reason, you try to jibe while possessing an otherwise sailing point, expect extreme flapping leading to a keel-over situation. That’s because the leeward movement forces the spinnaker to be at the full power, and any other point rather than the Training Run will let the air pass through the mainsheet forcefully. Eventually, that would push your watercraft to one flank, guiding to a turnover incident.

The Science of Gybing

What happens during this move is that you let the airstream to cross the main almost forcefully and from behind, but on the reverse side. In other words, if you have the sails at full power on the right edge while moving towards point A, gybing would change their position as well as the existing track. So, you’ll have the boom on the other flank of the craft (in this case, left) and will aim for point B.

To get a solid grasp of the concept, imagine you’re watching a paper boat floating over the water in a sink. It will probably stay stationary as long as there’s no wave and/or airstream. Now, you virtually start blowing it from behind, making an artificial airstream on the left. The boat will obviously start moving towards right, leeward.

But what if you change the air path? What would happen if you start blowing from the contrary rim? The watercraft will change its route and move to the left, which is basically what happens when you jibe too.

The only difference is that you do not change the airflow during this maneuver. Indeed, you just let the spinnaker and spar to create a pulling force on the opposite flank of the boat.

How to Perform It?

How to Perform It?

  • First, position your watercraft on the Training Run sailing point and make sure the centerboard is three-quarters of the way up. Keep the boat 150 degrees away from the air path while having the stern facing it. Bear in mind that your new route will be to the point under the present pole pose.
  • Next, check the areas to see if there are any obstacles around. If it’s all clear, pull the mainsheet by a couple of armfuls to ease the speed a bit to make the further steps trouble-free. If you’re traveling with a crew, inform them in advance, waiting for their call to start.
  • Roll the tiller in the direction of the boom after the one last safety check.
  • Now, shift your full body weight to the center of the boat/dinghy and gently push the tiller away from the spinnaker.
  • At this stage, the boat/dinghy will start to turn quickly. So, be prepared and give the mainsheet a rapid drag to accelerate flicking while ducking under it.
  • Straighten the rudder as soon as you sit on the other wing of the dinghy. Otherwise, the watercraft will continue turning, leaving you circling 360 degrees and/or stuck in irons.
  • Finally, since the rudder is behind your back, you must swap the hands and hold the mainsheet with the opposed one.

Avoid These Actions When Jibing

Weight unevenness: if you fail to balance your weight when moving across the boat/dinghy, it’ll eventually capsize. So, shift your body weight precisely to the center of the dinghy after rolling the tiller towards the spar. (See above).

Rudder straightening failure: flattening the tiller too soon will turn the watercraft from a Training Run to Dead Run. Moreover, if you fail to uncurl the rudder on time—after you’ve reached the desired point—the craft will continue turning. This will force you to move in a circle and depart the looked-for path.

Pulling the mainsheet late: this is a common jibing mistake that would leave you with a caught line. In fact, if you flunk pulling it on time, the rope will eventually get caught up in the backend of the dinghy, causing serious issues. To avoid having this problem drag the rope as soon as the craft starts to turn.

Ducking delay: when you fail to duck under the boom, serious injuries are not a surprise. So, don’t forget that the mainsheet is under full power and it will flick rapidly. Keep your head in the safe distance with the pole and wear a helmet during the on-water trips.

Accidental tacking: it’s a mistake that many beginners make when learning how to jibe. In fact, if you push the tiller headed for the boom instead of pulling it away, your craft will start to tack. This would stop you from changing the route as you wish, putting you in an anti-clockwise route instead.

It Differs from Wearing Around

Jibing Differs from Wearing Around

You must not confuse wearing around (aka chicken jibe) with jibing. In reality, they are both maneuvers to turn a vessel from one edge of the wind to the other, leeward. However, wearing around is a technique that replaces a 150-degree tack with the normal jibe to avoid capsizing. And that’s why some call it the chicken jibe—pointing out the lack of risk-taking attitude.

During the chicken jibe, a boat turns around in a circle, ending the maneuver on the opposite verge of the imaginary circle.

To paint the concept with a broad brush, imagine there’s a virtual clock under a vessel and you’re at its center while the bow is facing 8 o’clock. Hypothetically, you like to make a change in the recent route and bring the boat to a path where the bow is facing 4 o’clock. But since the airstream is coming from 12 o’clock, you’re afraid to face a keel-over situation when jibing.

So, you decide to tack and go from 8 o’clock to 9 o’clock continuing the clockwise movement until you reach the desired 4 o’clock spot.

In brief, using the clock example above, a normal jibe is an anti-clockwise change from 8 to 4 o’clock, while wearing around maneuver is doing the same thing clockwise.

Jibing vs. Tacking, Beating, and Chinees Gybing

You tack to aim the bow at 2 o’clock when it’s facing 10 o’clock at the moment—and vice versa. This maneuver takes place when the airstream is forward-facing and the vessel needs to turn to the other edge of the no-go zone. So, it’s the same concept when compared to gybing. However, the only chief dissimilarity here is that the former is performed when the bow is aimed at the airstream, while the latter is done leeward with the wind aiming at the stern.

Beating, on the other hand, is a series of coming about (i.e. tacking) moves. Indeed, a mariner utilizes a sequence of route altering, generating a zigzag path. This is done to rich a destination that is lined up with the wind coming from the no-go zone. So, it’s not comparable to jibing—and you’re better off without confusing them.

Chinees gybing, however, is more of an accidental maneuver where the spinnaker changes its position due to excessive heel leaving the spar and lower flank of the mainsail in their present site. So, you’re better off avoiding this move because it contrasts the normal gybing where you intentionally let the whole sail shift from one edge of the craft to another.

Reference (s):

Sailing Fundamentals

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