Yacht Racing - Reaching
( Originally Published 1911 )
REACHING, for the modern small racing boat, is the fastest point of sailing in most conditions. When running before the wind you cannot go faster than the wind is blowing ; while in beating to windward the boat is laced down and does not have the free action that she shows when the sheets are well started and the sails are lifting, so getting all the benefit of the drive.
Reaching may be either broad or close. By broad, I mean when the wind is coming over the weather side further aft than a-beam ; by close, T mean when the wind comes forward of the beam and you can still fetch your mark without going to windward.
Reaching is a condition of sailing where model counts a good deal, although not nearly so much as when going to windward.
Any boat can reach, as there is nothing for the skipper to do except station his crew in the best possible positions and keep his sails just right with every inch of canvas drawing. If it is not blowing too hard, it is advisable not to cleat your sheets, but put a man on each one. Have him watch the sails and be sure that they are always full of wind.
On a reaching start there is always bound to be a lot of luffing and bearing away to be done and the craft is never steady on her course. If the wind is very heavy and there is also a heavy sea running, the modern boat is very apt to yaw and twist and be very uneasy and hard on her helm, twisting and turning on her narrow fin. The bow wave is usually very large and has a tendency to make the boat broach to. When she has a coamer under her stern quarter, pay her off slightly in order to let her run on the crest as far as possible, which she will do at great speed. Do not attempt to check every slight move or twist caused by the sea, as it is impossible, and the rudder will stop her far more, turning from one side to the other, than though you let her alone.
Of course, if there be a twist of any magnitude, take it early and check her, but as she swings back into her course straighten the helm out slowly so as not to send her beyond her true course, and so make it necessary to put the helm hard down.
In other words, feel your boat and help her ; do not retard her by unnecessary turning of the rudder.