Running before the wind may look like the ideal course to the amateur sailor, but a little experience cures him of that belief. Fig. 1 shows the location of the sail when on this course. Steering is difficult when running with the wind aft, especially in rough water, and there is danger of the sail gybing over when least expected. Except on smooth water it is better to haul the boat up so as to have the wind on one quarter, and after following that course for some distance, to " take the other tack, " gybe over so as to bring the wind on the other quarter. Fig. 2 represents the wind on the quarter. Fig. 3 shows the wind abaft the beam. Fig. 4 shows the wind abeam, or directly at right angles with the boat. Fig. 5 shows the wind forward of the beam. Each figure shows the proper location or direction of the boom or, in a nautical term, how the sail should be trimmed. All of these are what are known as favorable winds, the sheet being hauled in such proportion as to give the best results. The positions in all of these figures show a boat when it is what is termed " sailing free."
To sail "close hauled" means to bring the boat up as close into the wind as possible and still keep it on its course, with the wind filling the sail so as to drive it forward. A properly built boat will lie within four or four and a half points of the wind, while some, especially those built on racing models, will do even better than this. Fig. 6 shows about the proper location of the boom when sailing close hauled. The wind, striking the sail at this angle will drive the boat forward and maintain a reasonable degree of speed, while to haul it closer would increase the leeway until, if the sail were hauled parallel with the keel, the only progress made would be to leeward. Most boats will sail closer to the wind in smooth water than in a rough sea.
When sailing close hauled, it is necessary to hold the boat on a course that will just nicely keep the sail filled with wind. This point can be ascertained by putting the helm slowly to the leeward. As soon as the sail begins to shake near the head, you have reached a point where it is not drawing as much as it should and, if the helm is kept down, the sail will begin to flap in the wind and the boat will lose headway. A little practice will enable an amateur skipper to see the beginning of this " tremble " in the sail, and at the first symptoms he must reverse the helm until the wind fills the sails fairly.