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Tacking Centre Mainsheet

  • Tacking with the centre main initially has some potential to get your hands tangled in the middle. On the other hand most people find centre mainsheets to be much easier for controlling larger sails, which is why they are common on boats.

    Terms used:
    Aft - Rear of the boat
    Mainsheet - The rope that pulls the mainsail in and out
    Tiller - The stick that controls the movement of the rudder

    1. Look around, make sure you're not going to turn into someone.
    2. Let the mainsheet out slightly, but keep the mainsheet in your front hand and the tiller in your aft hand
    3. Make sure the boat is balanced (flat) and is moving - it won't tack if its stopped
    4. Your front foot should be on your side of the boat, your back foot across the other side.
    5. Face forwards. Push the tiller away with the back hand, reaching across the boat
      Key point - make sure the tiller extension goes right accross the boat 
    6. As the sail flaps turn so that your whole body is facing forwards as you duck under the boom when the boat goes through head to wind. Don't move your feet, just let them pivot on the spot.
    7. Continue to turn your body and flip the tiller extension round the tiller so it is now pointing the correct way for the new tack. (You have to get the tiller extension beyond the tiller so that the joint bends the right way to straighten up.)
    8. As the sail fills on the other side pivot round again and sit on the side of the boat.
      Tip - Face slightly forwards (makes it easier to steer with the tiller extension behind your back)
    9. You are now almost holding the tiller extension behind your back with what is about to be the new front hand and the rope (mainsheet) in he other hand.
      Let the mainsheet slip through your fingers and reach in front and accross your body with the rope in hand to grasp the tiller extension. You now have both rope and tioller extenstion in the new aft (back) hand. Let got with the hand behind you back and reach round in front of you to take the rope (mainsheet).
    10. You are now sitting with tiller in aft hand, sheet in front hand, aft foot on the opposite side of the boat. Work the tiller extension back in front of your body (In most boats it comes under your armpit - if you find that hard you are probably sitting too far back - shuffle forwards)
    11. Pull the sheet in and get back up to speed.