Tacking By Example

TackingTacking is the turn of the boat so that the sails change side of the boat and during the turn you end up facing where the wind is coming from.

GybeWhile a gybe (jibe) is also where the sails change side of the boat but during the turn you face away from where the wind is coming from.

 How to tack by Shirley Robertson (Royal Yachting Association)

 Tacking with Jon Emmett (Wiley Nautical)

A playlist of examples

Key points – The Triggers

1. Prepare for the tack

Once you see or have the need to tack get ready…

  • Check you have the mainsheet and tiller extension in a dagger/microphone grip
  • Take your back foot (foot closest to the back of the boat) out from under the toe/hiking strap and prepare to place it across the boat opposite your front foot.
  • Figure out where you are going to stop your turn.  Try looking over your front should at a point 90 degrees from where you are currently heading.

2. Initiate the Tack

Push the tiller (by pushing your hand holding the tiller extension towards the end of the tiller).  The following actions will start to happen automatically after a little practise.

3.  Move across the boat

Wait until the boom moves to your current side of the boat then move across the boat with your back foot being placed opposite your front foot.  This will keep you facing forward and more importantly mean you’ll sit down directly opposite were you were.  So no shuffling forward required to get out of the way of the tiller when you can’t move it enough to steer properly.

4. Straighten up / Stop the turning

This is vital and your trigger for this when the boat nears heading towards that point you selected when you prepared yourself for the tack (see no. 1. Prepare for the Tack).  Your awareness of this is vital, if you don’t stop turning you’ll end up going in a circle and it’ll be really hard to get to go where you want to.  As you move across the boat start looking for your point that you have chosen to guide you to straight up.  Once you have straightened up and are seated again you can reorganise your hands to swap over the mainsheet and tiller extension.  And you’ve just done a successful tack.  High five, keep your eyes on where you are going though.


  1. To straight up after you have crossed the boat pull and twist the tiller extension, as it will assist bring the tiller back to the middle/neutral position.
  2. Keep a hold of the tiller extension, no matter what.  If you do have to let something – better it be the mainsheet rather than the tiller extension.  I’d prefer you were going the right way slowly rather than the wrong way fast.
  3. At the end of the tack if you are not in the right place to hike out straight away and the boat goes on to a big heel ease the mainsheet.