Partes de la vela en una embarcación a vela y así poder trimarla
Parts of a sail on a sailboat
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With the following explanation, which will turn as clearly as possible to the parts of a sail on a sailboat, I will try to understand each of the parts that compose it to be able to modify it at our whim. So we can know a little more about the limits of the sail and give them enough cane, but we will also learn to take care of them in the best way possible so that they last longer.

We will learn nautical vocabulary in a transversal way that will help us to assimilate terms without having to study them or memorize them. It’s like I think we should learn to navigate. Without having to study and trying to understand what each thing is for as it comes out naturally.

The basic nomenclature that we are going to see will be related to the topic we are dealing with and if I see that we deviate too much, I will try to leave the aspects that must be developed for another subsequent entry. Thus we will not make any accumulation to the rough of nautical concepts that would only make us end up dizzy.

In the first place, we are going to see something a bit theoretical about the definition of sail in a sailboat and then we will go into a rag with what is ours.

What is a sail ?

The concept of sailing on a boat could be this: A sail on a sailboat is a tool with which we can master an element. On the one hand, it is a tool because we have created it to use it for other things, leaving aside the hands and, on the other, it serves to dominate a type of energy like the wind to go over the sea water.

A more classic sail definition could be like the fabric that is hanging from the masts of square or triangular shape that collects or uses the wind to create an absorption effect and stretch the whole boat where the rudder directs it.

As we can see, it is a complex system in which when we try to explain something as simple as a piece of cloth, we do not see ourselves forced to go around the branches and talk about depressions, masts, rudders, etc.

The good thing about giving small or several explanations and many examples, as I like to teach myself, is that you do not need to learn with definitions, if not with concepts.

What matters to me is that the motor of a sailboat is the sails. Okay, they have a mechanical propulsion engine with diesel fuel … but what is important to know is that the most important thing that should not fail in the high seas are the sails. Engines can always fail. But the sails are the real lifesaver that will take us from port to port safely.

What are the sails of the boats for?

The sails of the boats serve to help us steer the boat where we want, that is, according to the position in which we put them, will help the rudder to change course. They are also the motor of the sailboat because they will start and move through the sea.

What are the parts of a sail on a ship?

Rigid parts

The sails have three hard parts that are called fists. They are in each corner and they serve so that some ends are tied to them and they stretch them.

Tip: when you browse or talk about nautical do not talk about ropes but about ropes.

The holes through which the ends will pass are called ollaos. They are large perforations of almost two centimeters composed of antioxidant metal. The sea is very corrosive and can attack, eat, oxidize and remove from the face of the earth any metal that oxidizes in a few months. If this happened on our sailboat we would be without him. Therefore, never buy anything that is not stainless (stainless). You will know it because it will have the word stainless inlaid in the metal.

What is the halyard fist

The halyard fist is in the upper part of the sail, the one that is higher up and away from us. It serves to withstand one of the highest tensions of the sail. That is why you will always see it very well woven, with several layers, with many thick seams and in different positions or directions. Above all longitudinal and parallel to the effort. This will hold many movements related to the vibrations that occur in a boat. Let’s think that everything is in constant movement: wind, waves and people walking and running over it.

Did you know … the vibrations stop. Whenever you navigate, try to move as little as possible. Especially in light sailing. The tremors are transmitted to the sails and to the water producing eddies. Both swirling wind and water.

What is the fist of aura

The tack is the one in the forward part of the sail. In the most forward part (front). But first you have to know what a boat is on a boat.

The bow of a ship is the position that it takes with respect to the wind. This phrase said like that, which is the correct one, sounds a little extraterrestrial, so let’s see another definition. That I like very much to explain with many examples so that you do not have to brood or memorize.
The tack is the course we take. It is the name that we put to the course. For example, if someone asks us what we wear we will have to choose an answer of five possible.

  • Question: What amura we carry?
  • Answer # 1: Our bow is tight.
  • Answer No. 2: Our bow is dismember.
  • Answer # 3: Our bow is through.
  • Answer # 4: Our bow is long.
  • Answer nº 5: Our bow is empopada.

Knowing this, the tack is the one that will join the sail with the sailboat. You can do it in different positions of the ship because, think well, that there are as many boats as there is a sailboat. There are classic four-masts (masts) with dozens of sails. And each one will have several fists. In some cases three and in four others since some sails are triangular and other square.

Then the tack can also hold a lot of tension, but without as many movements as the halyard fist because it will be a little firmer when joining the sailboat with a carabiner.

What is the sheet fist

The last fist of all; the third one in the case that concerns us, because I imagine that you want to learn to sail with a single-mast sailboat; It is the sheet.

This is the one that gives more play of all because it represents that it is the most important. With it we can play with the tension of the sail and as a consequence with its shape. If we change its shape we will change the wind current. And if we change the stream of aerodynamic flow we will change the place where the sail stretches us. Therefore, we will change course.

The sheet fist will also be extremely reinforced and pierced by a stainless steel pot. And subject by the sheet. Depending on where the sail is on which sailboat, the corporal that governs the clew will have another name. For example, if we try to trim (deform or shape) the sail called jib, the corporal that governs the clew will be a sheet. But if we work on the major, it will be done by a corporal called pajarín. And the sheet of the eldest will govern the boom.

The important thing now is to know that the fist of sheet is the one that is as far as possible (behind) possible or that is the one that is governed by the sheet. Thus, we can establish a relationship between the name of the three fists and their function:

Halyard Fist: it is stretched upwards by the line called halyard.
Flange grip: the ironwork attached to the cover tightens it forward.
Sheet fist: it is stretched backwards or sideways by the line called sheet.

Soft parts

The main parts of a sail that we must know are three: luff, leech and pujamen. They are three soft parts designed to be modified by us and thus be able to increase the speed in each course.

What is the luff

The luff is the part of the sail that is most forward (front). As the most advanced area that is between the halyard and tack fists, its tension is very important. Because it will be the one that welcomes the wind when it reaches our sailboat. The wind you will need is something tense that divides it in two and knows how to handle it well. If the luff we have a little soft what will happen is that the wind will move from side to side as if it were a flag causing turbulence. And the turbulence slows down.

It is a very common mistake typical of beginners or navigators who have not made the leap to regattas. Because the competition; like all sports; is what makes you go to the millimeter in everything to improve.

Then the luff must go quite tense. It will be the front part of the sail that will look at the wind completely in front when we navigate in directions that are not load bearing (in favor of the wind). In all the directions in which we navigate with a certain tendency to go towards the wind, the luff will be emproado (looking at the wind) to almost zero degrees.

As we just mentioned, the wind should be divided in two. Because here lies one of the secrets of sailing. Particles that will have to enter and leave at the same time will circulate on each side of the sail. This fluid dynamics is linked to aerodynamics. And what happens is that the particles that circulate through the convex part of the sails will be forced to go faster and this will create a low pressure in the form of suction.

What is the leech

The leech is the part of the backmost sail (aft) between the halyards of the halyard and sheet. That’s where the wind or the famous particles we’ve talked about come from. This part is important because if it does not carry any tension it will become a flag that moves or waves. If it waves it will create turbulence that will slow us down. Therefore, the leech should not tremble.

What to do if the leech vibrates and does not stop shaking:

If it does, the sail is old and should be changed. Over time it will unravel and the threads stop.
The corporal inside is not tense. On the large sails there is a small soul-shaped seat that taut the leech at will. You just have to present it without tightening it to death or leaving it 100% loose.
The sheet fist needs more tension.

Although it depends on the tack, the sheet or the sheet car must act to give the leech a slight tension so that it stops vibrating. This is a pretty good reference when it comes to knowing how to let the wind out of our sail.

Remember: If the leech vibrates create turbulence that breaks the aerodynamics and also vibrate the entire sailboat. Together, the boat slows down.

If this part has little tension it will curve. If the curve is up, it means that we have the sail open up. If the curve is in the middle means that we have the leech too loose and we have to hunt (strain) the sheet. If we have the curve below it means that the sheet is loose, directly.

Although I will develop this section in the trim (setting) of the sails, I will warm your maritime neurons little by little to keep you up to date. As a basic summary, the consequences of having the leech open or closed at the top are the following:

Sailing with the open leech

As it is said in the nautical slang, the sail will unload. That is, we intentionally let an opportunity escape. An occasion to catch more wind that does not interest us because we already have too much. Then the balumas very bent, loose or open at the top are because there is a lot of wind and the boat is too long. In other words, we go ass.

Sailing with closed leech

The sails will not unload. Moreover, it will be so tense that it will create a whirlpool on its anterior or concave face that will cause us to lose speed.

What is the pujamen

The pujamen is the area of ​​the sail that is between the fists and sheet. It is the lower part of the sail . Or the one that rubs with the cover in the type of sails that we are thinking. Normally this is the great forgotten and should not be because it has its trick. With it we can play with the power of the sail. That is, it will help us at times when we need a push.
If we find ourselves leaving our mooring (parking lot of the dock) or going down by the poltone (dock ramp to the sea) and there is no wind; there is only wind outside the dams and where we left is too disadvantageous or disadvantageous; we can release the pujamen. This will retain the little air or apparent wind (created by us) when moving after pushing off the ground and we will be able to navigate. That is to say, we will give the sail so much curve that the particles will take a long time to enter, go through the sail and leave. And this will help us move forward and out into open waters.

How to trim the pujamen

Bringing the pujamen of the sailboat loose or with power will also help us to pass the big waves. If one day we find ourselves sailing with big waves that are hard for us to pass, we can remove a bit of tension from the clew and the pujamen will bulge. This will make the waves rise better because in the lower part of the waves there is less wind than in the upper one. Because we think, that the higher the more wind. At 30 cm from the surface of the sea there is less wind than at 15 meters. Ok, this is not always the case, but it is a very good theory and general methodology to take into account and execute the days of training or regatta with very high waves.

What are the sabers?

The sabers are small rectangular plates of various materials such as plastic. They have a peculiar shape since they are very long, about one meter. Although they vary according to the size of the sail. And remember that each boat carries its size of sails. Almost almost to measure. Therefore there is a huge amount of sabers around the world.

For example, we can think that the dinghies are about 50 cm and those of a 20-foot transect one meter. And so we have a reference, which is what we want. Go learning step by step.

What relationship do swords have with the leech

Do you remember that we have said that the leech should not flame (vibrate)? This is where I stress the importance of sabers. Because the leech is very large; and in some cases it is not a straight line from fist to fist, but it is a curved line as it happens in the yachts of the America’s Cup of sail of some editions; It is very easy to flap to the minimum. And this is forbidden because of aerodynamic issues. Then these baras about 2 cm wide by 1.5 m long will go horizontally inside the sail, or sewn to the side with a side cover on the sail itself, so that the balluma laughs (tremble).

So if we do not want to see the leech laugh (shake) we should put sabers and give it a little tension without opening it too much on top.

What is a curl?

Stopping and doing curl when we were sailing full sail means that we have problems.
A curl is a shortening of the warlike surface. It is a manual or automatic folding if I have a winder inside the boom to make a small sail. It’s like cutting it with scissors.
That is to say, that the sails have several lines of holes distributed horizontally in each sail so that we can pass through it a rope and tie them by the pujamen. In the case of the majors (mainsail) they will be tied in the boom. If we have a reel inside the boom, we press a button until the sail is so small; or a small room; and the boat stops heeling and we’ll be comfortable and fast again.

When to make a curl

It is a way to make small or reduce sails because there is so much wind that we can not sail reliably. If the sailboats heap (they bend or knock) too much, they lose all the speed and, in addition, the navigation becomes uncomfortable because we do not have to be in a regatta. We can be sailing with a lot of wind on a day of walking or training. We may even be surprised by a storm on a summer picnic day.

The rope that holds the tied sail can be any rope, although normally a finite and elastic one is usually used. Because it grabs more and better all the rough surface of the sail that we do not have to have folded well in an awkward situation in which it can be moving everything uncomfortably.

How to make a curl

The curls in the sails are made because we are gone (with little control).

Let’s see how we can do one if we think of the mainsail of a current cruise.

First of all, let’s go ahead. If we want to list less we will have to lower the sails a little until the line of horizontal small eyelets is close to the boom (horizontal bar perpendicular to the mast). Then one person will go to the bow of the greater and another one to stern trying not to fall because it represents that it is very windy and, therefore, many waves. That is to say that one will be in the fist of aura and another in the fist of sheet.

Little by little a third party will lower (lower) the larger one slowly until the two people can pass an elastic loop through the ollaos. They will do it from bow to stern to the sail already folded from side to side on the boom. When everything is tied and well tied, the helmsman can set a course and continue with the march.