Tack, to

When sailing close-hauled, to turn the boat’s head through the wind so that the sails draw on the opposite side. When sailing with the wind coming from port, the boat is ‘on the port tack’, and she is ‘on starboard’ when the wind comes from her starboard side. To make progress to windward by sailing fIrst on one tack and then on the other is ‘tacking’ or ‘Beating to windward’. Although tacking usually implies close-hauled sailing, it is sometimes desirable to ‘tack down wind’, turning slightly off the wind fIrst to one side and then to the other. That may be faster than running directly down wind, and it may avert the risk of an accidental gybe. (See also: Wear, to.)