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Glossary

A

Abeam: at right angles to the boat.

Aft: toward the stern; opposite of forward. 

B

Back: to trim a sail windward so that it fills with wind backward

Backstay: the support wire between the top of the mast and the back of the boat

Bear away: to turn away from the wind (or to turn to leeward). 

Bearing: the angle to an object measured in compass or relative degrees. 

Boom: the horizontal pole that supports the bottom edge of the mainsail. 

Bow: the front of the boat. 

By the lee: sailing downwind with the wind coming over the same side of the boat as the boom is trimmed, which can cause an accidental jibe. 

C

Clew: the aft, bottom corner of a sail.

Close-hauled: the closest course to the wind that you can effectively sail. Also called sailing upwind, on the wind or beating.

Cockpit: the area where the crew sits to operate the boat. 

D

Deck: the top of the hull. 

Downwind: (1) a run, but can mean any point of sail when the wind is aft of the beam (2) the direction the wind is blowing toward.  

F

Flight: a group or series of races 

Foot: (1) the bottom edge of a sail. (2) to sail slightly lower than close-hauled in order to go faster. 

Forestay: the support wre that runs from the mast down to the bow. 

G

Genoa: a large jib that overlaps the mast. 

Grommet: a small plastic or metal ring pressed or sewn into a sail, creating a hole.> 

H

Head: the top corner of any sail. 

Head up: to turn the boat toward the wind (or windward). 

Heavy air: strong winds. 

Helm: (1) the wheel or tiller - the steering device. (2) A technical word for the balance of forces on the rudder. (3) the position of the helmsman on the boat. 

Helmsman: the driver or skipper of the boat. 

Hull: the body of the boat. 

J

Jib: the most common headsail. 

Jibe: to change tacks by turning away from the wind.  

K

Keel: A fixed, ballasted center fin that keeps the boat from sideslipping and provides stability to prevent capsizing or tipping over. 

Knot: (1) nautical mile (6,076 feet) per hour.

L

Layline: the line beyond which you can lay (make) the destination on a close-hauled course with no more tacks.

Leech: the back edge of a sail. 

Leeward: downwind; away from the wind. 

Luff: (1) the front edge of a sail from the head to the tack. (2) The flapping motion of sailcloth when a sail is undertrimmed (or not trimmed at all). 

M

Mainsail: the aft-most sail on a boat with one mast, normally attached to the mast along its front edge. 

Mainsheet: the adjustment rope that pulls the boom (hence the mainsail) in and out. 

Mast: the vertical pole that supports sails.  

N

No-sail zone: Zone where a sailboat can't sail; about 90 degrees wide, with the center point being toward the true wind direction. 

P

Port: left. 

Port tack: Sailing with the wind coming over the left side of the boat. 

Puff: An increase in wind velocity. 

R

Rig: (1) the mast and standing rigging. (2) a term for preparing the boat (or sail or fitting) for use. 

Round Robin: A round-robin tournament (or all-race-all tournament) is a competition "in which each contestant meets all other contestants in turn".

Rudder: the underwater fin that steers a boat; controlled by a tiller or wheel on deck.  

S

Sheet: the primary line that adjusts the sail's trim. Usually referred to with the sail it adjusts, as in, "Pull in the mainsheet." 

Spinnaker: a big, colorful, parachute-like specialty sail used when sailing downwind. 

Standard rigging: all the wires that support the mast, including the forestay, shrouds and backstay. 

Starboard: right. 

Starboard tack: sailing with the wind coming over the boat's right side. 

Stern: the back end of the boat. 

T

Tack: (1) the front, bottom corner of a sail. (2) the boat's heading in relation to the wind (that is on starboard or port tack) (3) to change tacks by turning toward the wind, entering the no-sail zone from one side and exiting on the other. 

Tiller: the lever arm that controls the position of the rudder. 

Tiller extension: a device attached to the end of the tiller that enables a person to sit farther outboard while steering. 

Trim: (1) to pull in a rope or a sail. (2) the set of sails. (3) the bow-up or bow-down position of the boat when not moving. 

W

Windward: toward the wind; the side the wind blows upon. 

Wing the jib: when sailing on a run, to trim the job on the opposite side as the mainsail.

Source: The wmrt match racing glossary