Basic Gybing a Sailboat

Basic Gybing a Sailboat: 1) Preparation 2) Maneuver 3) Swapping Hands/Helms, Basic Gybing a Sailboat

Basic Gybing a Sailboat: 1) Preparation 2) Maneuver 3) Swapping Hands/Helms


Helmsman/Helmsperson gives the command: “Prepare to gybe.” This gives the crew a chance to get ready and set up for the maneuver. Trim main sheet. Helmsman puts the tiller away from the mainsail, (windward side) and gives the command: “Gybe-ho.” This notifies the crew that the boat is being turned. Or, helmsman turns the wheel toward the mainsail.

“Ready to gybe?” • “Prepare to gybe!” • “Ready to gybe?” • “Prepare to gybe!” You can choose what you want to say, but it is recommended that you don’t stray too far from those phrases listed above. Crew looks 360° around the boat, get ready to gybe, and says, “Ready!”

What do I prefer? “Ready to Gybe,” “Ready,” “Gybe-Ho.” Simple challenge and response; no chance for miscommunication.


  1. Helmsperson decides to gybe, must communicate action to crew
  2. Helmsperson says, “Ready to Gybe” and indicates next point of sail and direction
  3. Crew gets main and jib sheets ready; this action varies by boat
  4. Crew says, “Ready”
  5. Helmsperson checks that crew are truly ready
  6. Helmsperson initiates a slow, smooth turn to preserve momentum
  7. Helmsperson allows boat to coast downwind, avoids oversteering, look forward
  8. Boat runs downwind, loses speed, helmsperson readies to shift sides
  9. Crew releases burdened jib sheet when the clew dips
  10. Helmsperson turns boat a bit quickly to finish tack – as needed; boats are different
  11. Crew sheets in lazy sheet, there will be immediate resistance
  12. Crew adjusts sheets to point of sail one deeper than final point of sail
  13. Crew readjusts sheets to actual point of sail once momentum is gained
  14. Crew readies lazy jib sheet for the next gybe, helmsperson moves body upwind


What is gybing? How do you know when to gybe a sailboat?
What do you say when you gybe a sailboat? What is the difference between tacking and gybing?

Why/when would you backwind the jib? When would you consider a “Chicken Gybe?”
What is the benefit of “challenge and command” over “command?”

What part of the boat passes through the wind when you tack?

What additional care must be taken when gybing vice tacking? What damage can result?

Basic Gybing a Sailboat: 1) Preparation 2) Maneuver 3) Swapping Hands/Helms, Basic Gybing a Sailboat

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