Beginner’s Guide to Sailing – Sailboat Rental San Diego

When it comes to watersports at Mission Bay, sailing is one of the favorites. There’s nothing like feeling the wind on your face and the sound of the water going by, while you control the sails and master the wind. The best way to give sailing a try is to get a sailboat rental in San Diego. But, once you rent your sailboat, what’s next?

We’ve put together this beginner’s guide to sailing to get you out in the water in no time on your sailboat rental in San Diego.

Essential Sailing Terms

The first thing many people notice about sailing is that it has its own language. As a beginner sailor, trying out a sailboat rental in San Diego, here are some of the terms you should know:

  • Tiller – A long handle that gives the captain the ability to steer the sailboat
  • Rudder – An appendage controlled by the tiller that affects the streaming direction of the water under the boat
  • Mainsail – The sail affixed to the main mast
  • Mainsheet – The line used to let out or trim in the mainsail
  • Jib sail – The triangular sail that acts as a supporting sail
  • Jib sheet – The line used to let out or trim in the jib sail
  • Bow – The boat’s front section
  • Trimming – Adjusting the sails by pulling the sheet to catch more wind

Sailboat Steering Basics

When you’re out in the water, you can move the tiller to steer your boat. If you move the tiller to the left, the water streaming through the rudder will shift, and your boat will go to the right. If you move it to the right, you’ll turn left.

Positioning Your Sails

In a sailboat, you are responsible for harnessing the energy that will propel your boat forward. When you release your sails or tighten them, you will affect how they use the wind.

This diagram can help you understand how the wind direction works concerning your sails.

Sailing Guide | Mission Bay Sportcenter

The further your boat is from the wind direction, the more you’ll need to let out your sails. When you are sailing closer toward the wind, you need to tighten your sails. A great way to figure out how far to trim your sails is to let it out until it starts flapping, and pull it back in until it’s full of air again.

If you get a sailboat rental San Diego at Mission Bay Sportcenter, once you’re aboard the sailboat, our staff will help you get started. They will position your boat accordingly and advise you to tighten your mainsheet.

Main Sailing Maneuvers: Tacking and Jibing


Tacking can be described as turning into the wind. In other words, you turn the bow of your boat through the wind from 2 o’clock to 10 o’clock or vice-versa. The wind that was coming from one side now comes from the other. When you tack, your mainframe quickly switches sides which can be dangerous. So, make sure you announce it to your crew before tacking.

To tack, pull in your mainsail and point the tiller towards the sail. The mainframe will switch sides, and you’ll have to change the jib to match the mainsail.

Jibing (or Gybing)

Jibing is when the wind is coming from behind you on one side, and you turn as if you crossed the wind. The wind still comes from behind but from the opposite side.

To perform this maneuver, you pull your sail while pointing your tiler slowly away from it. Your boat will turn, and your sail will switch sides. When it does, trim your sail accordingly. If you don’t pull in your sail before you jibe, it will swing across dangerously, so be careful.

Extra tips before you sail away and taste the freedom

  • Sailing upwind – You can’t sail directly across the wind. So, if you want to get to a point upwind, you can tack towards 10 and 2, making zig zags to get there. Remember to trim your sails.
  • Slow down or stop the boat – You can either let out your mainsail or point the bow of the boat into the wind.

Sailboat Rental San Diego

With some sailing practice, you’ll get the handle of all the technicalities. Plus, San Diego is the perfect place to sail – great weather year-round, calm waters, windy, and Mission Bay Sportcenter.

The feeling of catching the wind, while controlling the sailboat out in the ocean, is second to none. If you don’t have a sailboat rental in San Diego yet, book yours now!

Get ready for the experience of a lifetime!