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While most people who own a model yacht will be happy to watch it sail across a lake or a pond without wanting to know about the finer points of sailing, there are many of you who would. Here is a simple guide to sailing with some added hints on the correct handling of your yacht, this will help you understand how obtain the best performance from it in different weather conditions.  

According to the setting or trim of the sails you can make your yacht sail in a given direction in relation to the wind. These settings are shown in the diagram below and are known as:

A.             "Beating", or "Close Hauled", when a yacht is sailing against the wind.

B.              "Reaching", when the wind is blowing broadside, or "abeam".

C.             "Running", when the yacht is sailing before the wind, (with the wind                      directly behind it)

Britannia Pond Yachts Sailing Terminolog

As a general rule even If you are not a beginner it is a good idea to set the sails slackly at first, this will ensure good performance in almost any wind conditions, you can then set the sails how you want them to be once you have a good idea of how your yacht is going to perform on the day, and adjust accordingly.


Matching the setting of the sails in relation to each other is important, as the correct balance needs to be achieved. If the model turns too close into the wind, causing it to "Beat" to a standstill, or go about, then the jib will need tightening in a little, or alternatively you can slacken off the mainsail sheet a fraction. If, on the other hand, the model tends to turn off down-wind, the jib will require slackening or alternatively the mainsail will need tightening. You may find in some instances that you might need to adjust both the jib and mainsail at the same time.

To make headway up-wind a method called "Beating" "Close Hauled" or "Tacking" is used, to do this you will need to sail the yacht with the bow pointing as close to the wind as possible (can be 45 degrees). When the opposite shore is reached, the yacht is put about, (you use a turning pole for this or lift your yacht out of the water and reset the sails on cutters and shove off). Your yacht will proceed with the wind on the opposite side as shown in figure, A.

When the model is sailing with the wind "abeam" as in figure, B. It is advisable not to have the sails "sheeted in" too tightly, especially in a stiff breeze, as this will cause the model to heel over too steeply.

Should you wish to try "Running" before the wind as shown in figure, C  you will need to open up the jib and mainsail by loosening the sheeting to its full extent. You will need to sail with the wind directly behind you and have the jib and mainsail swung as far as they will go in opposite directions to each other ideally at 180 degrees. Not all pond yachts can do this, due to the way they are constructed.

Remember that to obtain the maximum efficiency and therefore speed from your yacht, it should be sailed as upright as possible as the hull will be offering  less resistance when sailing on an even keel. This is particularly true for hard chine yachts and less so for yachts with a more rounded shaped hull.

Boats fitted with manually adjusted rudders and automatic rudders can help keep the boat on course, manually adjusted rudders should be set straight ahead at first so that you can set the sails, once happy with how your yacht sails you can then add some helm if required. Yachts fitted with Braine Gear are a little more complicated to control there is a section on how to sail with Braine Gear in the the Yacht Terminology Section.

It is hoped that this description helps you to understand what can be a difficult technique to grasp, and so help you gain even more enjoyment from this absorbing outdoor activity.

                                                        Points of Sail

These terms are nautical terms that apply more to those of you using radio control however these terms will be interesting to free sailing enthusiasts as well.

A "Starboard Tack" is when the wind is from "abeam" Starboard Side.

A "Port Tack" is when the wind is from "abeam" Port Side.

To "Tack"or "Go About" is to change from one tack to another by putting bow through the wind.

'Fine' or 'Close Reach" is a course between "Close-Hauled" and a "Beam Reach".

"To Luff -Up" is to steer the boat towards the wind.

"Beam Reach"is when the wind comes over the beam (90 degrees)

"To Gybe" is to let the mainsail change sides by putting the stern through the wind.

"Broad Reach" is when the wind comes over the quarter.

"Dead Run" or "Running Before The Wind" is when the wing is coming in over the stern.

"Stopped", "In Irons", or "In Stays" refers to heading directly into the wind the sails will stall and the yacht will stop.

The fastest points of sail are usually when the boat is sailing on Close Beam and Broad Reaches.

Britannia Pond Yachts Sailing Terminolog
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