Heavy wind gybing – fast and safe!

Gybing the boat in windier conditions is always going to be a bit of a challenge and there’s plenty of opportunity for mistakes which can slow you down and even be dangerous. With the right preparations and precaution taken you can significantly improve your chances of safe and fast gybes, even when the wind is above your normal level of comfort. This article is focusing entirely on the main sail aspect of the gybe, genoa and/or spinnaker gybing will be covered in another article.

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Spinnaker gybing


Spinnaker ready to gybe

The following article describes a safe and fast way of gybing (jibing) a spinnaker on a 40 foot yacht. The key aim has been to reduce complexity so that no one in the crew is trying to do several things at once. E.g. it’s quite a common technique, where the spinnaker trimmer tries to trim both sheets at the same time during the gybe, which on this size of boat becomes nearly impossible in a good breeze.

The method requires that you prepare by making a mark on each of the spinnaker sheets for a base trimming position where the spinnaker clews only just clears the forestay when sailing without a pole.

To break down the activities it’s easier to look at the gybing maneuver as a three phase operation:

  1. Preparing for Gybe (Jibe)
  2. Gybing
  3. Post-Gybe