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Language: jargon: sailing

Tack Naut.

  1. The lower, forwardmost angle of a sail.
  2. The cringle, ring, becket, or other attachment fitting located there and used to attach the sail to the boat.
  3. The side of the vessel which is to windward, port or starboard or, when the wind is directly behind, the side opposite of the boom's position.
  1. To change tacks, from port to starboard or vice versa. Traditionally either by coming about or gybing but more commonly in modern usage exclusively the former.

In most modern sails, the tack consists of a pressed ring through the dacron fabric in the corner formed by the foot and luff of the sail. On mylar composite sails the tack is more usually a ring attached with many webbing straps (often made of kevlar) aligned with the tape reinforcements of the sail. The ring is commonly shackled to the boom near the gooseneck, or slipped on a tack hook, or lashed to the boom, lacing rail or gooseneck.

Determining on which tack a boat is sailing is quite easy; it is the same as the side of the boat the boom is not on. Knowing which tack is important in regards to the International Regulations for Preventing Collision at Sea, Rule 12, which gives right of way to a vessel on the starboard tack over a vessel on the port tack. While this doesn't come up often in real life, racers are very likely to be shouting "STARBOARD!" at each other.

When altering course, it is very likely a sailboat will be changing from one tack to the other. Because this will involve the boom and sails moving from one side of the boat to the other, there is a safety protocol followed on most boats. When the helm needs to change tacks by pointing the bow into the wind and then falling off on the new tack, s/he will call out "Ready about?", inquiring if everyone is prepared/out of the way. Crew will pipe up "Ready!" in response. When the helm has heard from all crew, s/he will begin the course change and call out "Helm's alee!" Similarly, when changing tacks with a gybe the call is "Prepare to gybe?", "Ready!", and "Gybe-ho!" These calls and responses allow everyone aboard to avoid injury and to be prepared as the boat switches heeling from one side to the other.

  • Edwards, Fred; Sailing as a Second Language; International Marine Publishing Company; © 1988 Highmark Publishing Ltd.; ISBN 0-87742-965-0
  • Marino, Emiliano; The Sailmaker's Apprentice: A guide for the self-reliant sailor; International Marine/Ragged Mountain Press; © 1994 International Marine; ISBN 0-07-157980-X
  • Rousmaniere, John; The Annapolis Book of Seamanship; Simon & Schuster; © 1983, 1989 John Rousmaniere; ISBN 0-671-67447-1