“Why does a sailboat lean?”
The power of the wind tilts the boat slightly. The breeze passing through the sails creates a “lift” like that of an airplane taking off. But in this case the “wing” operates sideways as the mast holding the mainsail steady. The ideal tilt is 10-15 degrees as the boat gains speed in a “close reach.” Anything over 15 degrees is unnecessary, uncomfortable and rarely improves speed. Landlubbers take a few minutes adjusting to the lean, but once they get the connection it becomes a veritable rush. Artists find the close reach the most attractive visual of sailing. Next we’ll look at a sailboat leaning beyond 15 degrees and explain why.