What is the difference between lying to and hoving to

by Chris Kameen on November 18, 2013

You will often hear sailing instructors using these terms in connection with stopping a boat, but they aren’t the same thing.

Hove to in a sailing boat

Hoving to involves backing your jib, releasing your mainsail and pushing and holding the tiller away. In this way we have a number of conflicting forces working on the boat:

  1. The backed jib is trying to push the bow away from the wind
  2. The rudder is turning the boat into the wind
  3. flapping mainsail and backed jib together stop the air flow over the sail  and so stops the driving forward motion.

Racing Dinghy Sailors use this ‘position’ to stop and wait and have their sandwiches between races. The other benefit of this is that it reduces the wear on your sails caused by them flapping in the wind. When you do this ensure you are stopped on Starboard tack!

Lying to in a sailing boat

Lying to involves you releasing your sails on a close reach and just letting them flap. One of the things that we demonstrate on our level 1 Start Sailing Course is this Lying to position as it is used frequently during the course. This is the method by which single handed boats such as Open Bics and Optimists can stop.

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