Sail Trim Quiz

Sail Trim Quiz

Sail trim is a big part of a sailor’s knowledge base. Here’s a little quiz to see if you know some of the pertinents. Passing doesn’t mean you know it all and failing just means you have to hit the books. Have fun!

  • Simply put, what does the word “draft” mean in terms of sail trim?
    1. The amount of wind that spills off of a sail, usually a mainsailNope! Hit the books!
    2. The measured force of wind hitting the sailsWrongo! Sounds like something out of a textbook but we invented that answer out of thin air!
    3. The measured angle of the headsail as it relates to the main on a sloop-rigged boatNot correct. Fancy sounding answer but not at all right…
    4. The curvature of a sail where the depth is the greatestWe knew you’d know!
  • What is Twist?
    1. The difference between the angle of attack at the foot and at the head of a sailYes yes!
    2. The unwanted occurrence of a misshapen sail in a powerful gustNo, but we understand why you picked this.
    3. The technique of using the boom to pump a sail, thereby creating apparent wind in a light breeze.No, that’s just the day you realize you need an outboard!
    4. The length of the foot of a sail multiplied by the draft equals its twist.‘fraid not. Twist is not some weird math problem.
  • The most common reason for weather helm is:
    1. Strong currentsThat is not the most common reason
    2. Winds so light the boat follows its natural tendency to move to windwardUhhh, no.
    3. Excessive heelThat’s right! Adjust your trim or consider reducing sail area!
    4. Uncalibrated linkage within the steering systemUncalibrated linkage? No…
  • “Pinching” means:
    1. Pointing too high into the windBut of course!
    2. The constant readjusting of sails when traveling up windNo, that’s just OCD!
    3. Adjusting the traveler to the windward side of the center pointYou are incorrect! Adjusting the traveler does not a pinch make!
    4. Making your sails as flat as they can beNope – nothing to do with sail shape…
  • What is a Preventer?
    1. A Preventer is a another name for a life lineIt could be but it’s not
    2. It’s the post that keeps the rudder from spinning around in a circleNo, but it’s kind of funny you thought that.
    3. It’s the last thing a mainsail hits after being raisedThat does prevent but it’s not a preventer.
    4. A system rigged so the boom doesn’t accidentally jibeThat is very right.
  • When sailing close hauled, a general rule for mainsail trim is to:
    1. Have the outboard end of the top batten parallel with the boomNice work!
    2. Have the outboard end of the bottom batten curved at a 30-degree arcThat is not a general rule.
    3. Have the luff tension loose because you can always go tighter later if need beThat is not a good idea.
    4. Adjust the luff tension in concert with mainsheet tension until a perfect aerodynamic slot is formedDon’t do that…
  • In what order should you trim sails on a sloop-rigged boat?
    1. Main then jibNo, you need to change your ways
    2. Jib then mainYes!
    3. It doesn’t matterIt does! Wrong…
    4. Both as close to simultaneously as possibleNo, there’s a better answer
Click on an answer above to start!
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John Padgett
John Padgett

I’m going to take issue with Question #7 on the order of which to trim sails. When rounding the windward mark you ease the main first followed by the jib. This helps the boat bear away. When rounding the leeward mark trim the main followed the jib to help the boat head up. In both cases it’s main 1st followed by jib.


John, We agree with your comments in terms of trimming sails when rounding marks. However, the question is simply asking what order to trim the sails in general, for example, when sailing in a straight line (not rounding marks).