Nautical terminology - Luffing Up

We help you out with your Sailing Terminology

Luffing up

Luffing up, luff up, luffing, pinching, feathering are all nautical terminology that refer to a sailing boat that is turning towards the wind or holding itself close to the wind, We take a close look at this common sailing expression.

In sailing terminology, the expression luffing refers to a sailing vessel is steered towards the wind. I am going to “luff up” or “I am luffing up”. It’s the opposite of bearing away.

Luffing Up

Nautical Terminology – Luffing Up

Why learn nautical terminology?

The benefits of learning sailing terminology have been long debated and we are sure luffing up will be no exception. There are those that maintain there is a simpler way to describe what is going on, without using specialist terminology. Others will say that a specific language encourages accuracy and brevity, and allows everyone to talk in a common language that would be missing if everyone made their own version up.

Whatever your view, we think it’s a lot of fun and we would love to know what you think.

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Luffing up in Practice

Luffing up also refers to point where you are have sailed so close to the wind that you are now passed the optimum trim. There are times when you may wish to do this, it would certainly de-power the boat and sail you close to the wind; generally, this is an advanced technique and without skill you are likely to experience plenty of unwanted side effects. You will hear it referred to as feathering, or pinching and used to make a more direct route upwind. The risks are losing power and keel effect which will see any gains lost in leeway (sideways movement of the boat). It will also take time to rebuild the speed, possibly having to bear away (steer away from the wind) to achieve it.

If you continue to luff beyond this sub-optimal point, with sufficient momentum, you will eventually pass “through the wind” and you are said to have “tacked”. Once through the wind, if you continue, you will bear away until you begin to sail again.

Let us know what you think


Was this blog useful to you? Would you like to see something explained better or other terminology defined?

And whilst this blog is aimed at those new to sailing terminology we are always interested to know what the experts think. We will always incorporate any comments into future revisions.

Leave a comment below.

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