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6th November 2016
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Vendée Globe > Presentation > Glossary



Apparent wind :
Relative wind resulting from the boat's speed and the real wind.


Backstay :
Rear shroud holding up the mast and symmetrical to the forestay.

Ballast :
Compartment or tank used for balance by being filled with, or emptied of, water.

Beam :
Side, starboard or port of the boat.

Bear away :
To change course moving away from the direction of the wind.

Bearing :
The direction taken by a yacht in relation to north.

Becalmed :
A yacht is said to be becalmed when it finds itself without any wind.

Boom :
Perpendicular to the mast, the boom is a spar, which holds the lower edge of the mainsail.

Boom vang :
System enabling the mainsail boom to be pulled down to tighten the mainsail, thus making it more rigid.

Bow :
The front of the boat.

Bowsprit :
Spar at the front of the yacht allowing a sail to be put in place in front of the bow.

Breaker :
Huge wave, which breaks and rolls.

Broach :
To move suddenly in the direction of the wind.


Capsize :
A boat capsizes when it goes over on its side under the force of a violent wave or strong wind to an angle, which means that it remains on its side.

Chain plate :
The attachment point for the shroud or stays to the hull side.

Change of Tack :
A move from one tack to another turning the bow through the wind.

Cockpit :
Hollow space at the rear of the yacht, where the helmsman is and where sails can be trimmed.

Cockpit cleats :
All of the cleats (used to hold a rope in place), which are found in the cockpit allowing the various ropes on board to be adjusted.

Code Zero :
it's a big genoa

Coffee grinder :
Piece of deck hardware forming a pedestal winch. This geared system offers a lot of power enabling sails to be trimmed.

Come about :
To carry out a change of tack.


Daggerboard :
Vertical fins, which are slotted under the hull of a yacht to reduce drift.

Delamination :
The various skins and materials making up the composite materials come unstuck.

Dismast :
To lose your mast following damage.

Displacement :
The weight of the volume of water displaced by a boat.

Doldrums :
Area of equatorial calms found in the Atlantic on either side of the Equator. It is a very hot area, where calms alternate with violent squalls.

Draw ahead :
The wind changes to a less favourable direction for the yacht.

Drift :
The sideways movement by a yacht in relation to its course.


Ease of :
To ease the tension on a rope.

Abbreviation of Estimated Time of Arrival.


Foot :
Bottom edge of the sail

Forestay :
Shroud that is furthest forward.


Gennaker :
Foresail reserved for downwind sailing.

Genoa :
Large jib sail.

Greenwich Mean Time, also referred to as Universal Time.

Gooseneck :
Swivel connection attaching the boom to the mast, allowing it to turn.

(Global Positioning System): Satellite positioning device.

Gybe :
To change tack with the wind going around the stern.


Halyard :
Running rigging used to hoist a sail or yard. Each sail has its own halyard. Harden sheets, to sheet in: to pull on the sheet of a sail.

Head upwind :
You are said to head upwind, when the wind is blowing in the opposite direction to the bow.

Headwind :
When a yacht is heading into the wind. Heave to, to lie to: To heave to means positioning the yacht to ensure her safety in bad weather.

Heel :
Angle at which the boat leans over.

Helm :
The whole of the steering system enabling the boat to change course.

Hook :
A hook system, which the allows the tops of the sails to be raised to the top of the mast.


International Monohull Open Classes Association. Intermediate shrouds: Side shrouds coming down from the top of the mast.

International Sailing Federation.


Jib :
Each of the triangular sails attached to a stay at the front of the mast.


Knot :
Unit of measure for speeds at sea. One knot corresponds to one nautical mile covered in one hour.


Leech :
The back side of a sail.

Leeward :
Everything that does not receive the wind first is leeward. Lift, to veer aft: The wind comes around from the bow towards the stern. The wind lifts, when it becomes more favourable for the yacht to be on an ideal course.

The total maximum length of the boat, including the bowsprit. Luff of the sail: The leading edge of a triangular sail.

Luff :
To manoeuvre to bring the boat closer to the direction of the wind.


Mainsail :
Chief sail located behind the mast.

Mainsheet traveller :
Track on which the mainsheet block moves.

Mainsheet traveller car :
Sliding mechanism on the traveller to which the mainsheet block is fixed.


Nautical mile :
Unit of distance at sea equal to 1852 metres (6080 feet or 1.15 statute miles).


Outrigger :
That's a deckspreader wich hold the mast up.


Points of sail :
Configuration and the angle a yacht sails in relation to the wind direction.

Pole :
Long spar placed more or less sideways outside of the boat used to spread the sheets on foresails (genoa and spinnaker).

Port :
The left-hand side of a boat, as you look towards the bow.

Port tack :
A yacht on the port tack receives the wind from the left.


Rating rule :
All of the rules, which define the specifications, which a racing yacht must satisfy.

Real wind :
The real direction of the wind.

Reef :
System used to reduce the surface of a sail.

Reef :
To take in one or more reefs in a sail means reducing the sail surface.

Rigging :
All that contributes to the wind propulsion of the yacht.

Roller furler :
Rotating mechanical system fixed to the stay, allowing all or part of a foresail to be furled.

Rudder :
Submerged part of the steering system that can be angled.

Rudder stoc :
Mobile part of the steering system that moves the rudder.

Runner :
Mobile shroud located at the rear of the mast.

Running downwind :
Point of sail where a yacht receives the wind from astern.

Running rigging :
Mobile elements of the rigging allowing sails to be hoisted and trimmed.


Sea-cock :
Tube with a valve passing through the hull used for connecting instrument detectors.

Send aloft :
Term used to talk of sails being hoisted.

Sheet :
Rope used to trim a sail.

Shifting gear :
Moving equipment and sails around the boat to stow them windward to reduce the heel.

Shiver :
A sail which flaps, when receiving the wind on both sides, is said to shiver.

Shroud :
Cable ensuring the mast is held in place.

Solent :
Sort of jib.

Spinnaker :
Foresail used in downwind conditions.

Splice :
Joining two pieces of rope or cable by weaving the strands of each into the other to form a loop or join.

Spreader :
Part of the rigging joined to the mast, which spreads the shrouds holding the mast in place.

Standing rigging :
Fixed rigging, in particular, required to keep the mast in place.

Starboard :
The right-hand side of a yacht if you are looking towards the bow.

Starboard tack :
A yacht on a starboard tack receives the wind from the right.

Staysail :
Foresail fitted to the babystay behind the jib.

Stern :
The rear of the yacht.


Tack :
(port tack or starboard tack): The tack is the side of the boat, which faces the wind.

Tack :
To sail often changing direction to head upwind or to optimise the yacht's speed by reaching (with the wind on the beam) rather than with the wind astern.

Tacking :
By tacking, a sailor can move upwind by changing tack.

Tiller :
Lever used to steer a boat.

To harden up :
To stiffen.


U-bolt :
Deck element attached to the hull of a yacht, on which a shroud is fixed.

U.T :
Abbreviation for Universal Time (equivalent to GMT).

Upwind :
Point of sail closest to the wind..


Abbreviation of Velocity Made Good. It is the calculation of the speed on the ideal route towards the goal.


Waterline :
The waterline is a line drawn on the hull at the level of the water; it marks the separation between topsides and the bottom.

Winch :
Device used to pull on the ropes on board a yacht.

Windhole :
An area without wind.

Windward :
Everything that is the first to receive the wind is said to be windward.

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