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the Outside Of the Boat And the Sails

  • Naming of Parts - The Boat from the Side

    RS Vision - parts of a boatHere are the principal parts of the boat that it is as well to know, visible from the side. This is a doublehanded RS Vision Dinghy. It is the standard doublehanded training boat at the sailing club (as well as many other sailing clubs).   It has 3 sails: a main sail, a jib and a spinnaker (the spinnaker is only used downwind).

    Parts of the Sails

    sailparts.gif Racing Dinghy sails are vaguely triangular. Each has three corners and three edges, and each has a different and special name, symmetrical perhaps the names are the same for each type of sail. The top corner is the head, the front corner the tack and the back corner is the clew. The leading edge is the luff, the back edge the leach, and the bottom edge the foot. When it comes to conventional (symmettrical) spinnakers, where the front and the back edges change around when you gybe, only the luff and tack tend to be referred to. You'll find the word tack (of course) and luff are also used for maneuvers. My guess is that this dates back to square rigger days, when those parts of the sail were most affected by those maneuvers.

    Apropos of nothing, if a sail disintegrates because of the pressure of the wind (which only really happens in big offshore racing boats) it referred to as being blown out. This leads me on to possibly the oldest and corniest joke in sailboat racing, which I heard very many years ago...

            Q. What did the jib say when it got blown out?
            A. I haven't got a clew...