Dhow Racing


Well-known member
18 Jan 2003
Nazare Portugal
Briefly watched Dhow Racing on skysports last night. Usual p!ss poor coverage, more interested in showing faces and recording comments than about sailing.

It left me wondering how Dhows tacked or gybed. I assume the have to depower the sail, lower the boom, take it to the other side of the mast and raiose boom etc.

Can anyone advise please?

They did show the start where they are all anchored in a line and at the start gun have to lift anchor/hoist the 2 booms (2 masts) and set the sails. Do anyone ever do this sort of start dinghy racing?

I really should not chanel graze as every time I watch anything on water sports I am left annoyed by the poor presentation and lack of explanations - they make F1 commentators look interesting!
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Active member
19 Sep 2005
No, they don't tack; they only gybe (or 'wear', the old term for going about with the wind behind you as old square-riggers used to). They don't lower the boom (the 'yard'; a halyard is so called because it was the rope that used to haul [up] the yard): they twist it round the front of the boom, loosening the end that was attached to the bow and pulling the old upper end down to the bow.

In the middle of the manoeuvre, when the boat's dead downwind, the yard is horizontal and there's still power in the sail. The clew is led round to the new leeward side of the boat.

Sometimes the upper end of the yard is led aft as a backstay.

It's a laborious procedure, but elegant in its own way. Sometimes, and particularly if the boat has a short bow forward of the boom, they just let the wind back the sail and take the clew to the new side. This way the mast mis-shapes the lower part of the sail, but they apparently sail reasonably well like this and it does avoid all the hassle of getting inverting the yard.