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How to improve your sailing through Wind Vanes

One sailing device you must have onboard due to its mechanical simplicity and independency from electronic interfaces, is a Wind Vane.

A wind vane is a clever bit of engineering known as a servo-pendulum. A vertical tube supports the air vane, pivoting on a horizontal axis at its base. The wind catches the rudder blade and makes it rotate, turning the leading edge to face into the wind, measuring the direction from which the wind is blowing.A wind vane is a clever bit of engineering known as a servo-pendulum. A vertical tube supports the air vane, pivoting on a horizontal axis at its base. The wind catches the rudder blade and makes it rotate, turning the leading edge to face into the wind, measuring the direction from which the wind is blowing.

There are different wind indicators, and depending on the vanes' orientation and geometry, you can guide your choice in one-way o another.

Based on the orientation of the supporting tube

Vertical:

They are usually made for racing and cruising boats bigger than dinghies but up to 30ft. They are placed on top of the mast and are easy to read as they are always in the same position.

Horizontal:

More used by dinghy racers and cruisers of single-handed boats such as Laser, Finn, and Sunfish. A bit more complicated to read since it changes its position based on the side you are on (starboard or port), as they are typically mounted at the mast based to prevent the sailor from looking up to the top of the mast and losing the picture of what is happening around them.



Based on the shape of the indicator

Squared tail:

Plane tail:

With index arms:



How to read wind vanes?

When sailing upwind

What every sailor wants to know about when sailing upwind is when to tack. Wind vanes are helpful for this. First, you need to know where the vane is pointing on your ordinary course (between 30-40 degrees about the wind direction). If you note that the vane starts to turn and point right to the bow (or at least closer than before), that's the signal that you either lost wind pressure or just shifted, and your boat is on a header. It would be best if you then tacked to reach the puffs or take advantage of the lift in the other tack.

On the other hand, if the wind vane starts to point farther from the bow of the boat and more to the windward side of the ship, you should consider pushing the rudder and start pointing since you are under more wind pressure or you are just on a lift.

If your wind vane has index arms, these will help you know which course your boat should be pointing. When the tail of the vane is right over one of these arms, you are doing it right. When it is outside the range of the arms, you can point more to the wind, and if it is between the two arms, you should then tack.

When sailing downwind

Contrary to the upwind course, you are looking to be header most of the time while sailing downwind. So then, you try to make a direct course to the downwind marks (as far as you can) and look at your wind vane. You are in the proper position if it is pointing right to the marks or just a bit more to the sail to the mainsail. Otherwise, it would be best if you considered gybing to sail in the fastest course to the marks.

In the case of wind vanes with index arms, you should always try to be in a course where the vane is just a bit in the range of the index arms. You don't want it out of their range since you are trying to sail downwind and not reach. Neither do you want it to be in the right middle position because the mainsail will cover the headsail or spinnaker, and it will lose power. There are some exceptional cases, such as the Laser, where you prefer to go either by the lee or on a broad reach.



There are many ways to take advantage of the wind vanes, and it all depends on the course and the boat you are sailing in. If you want more information about any boat, don't hesitate to contact our sailing staff at MAURPRO Sailing, and we will gladly help give you tips to improve your sailing style and go faster.

SHOP WIND INDICATORS:

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