What is the Ideal Wind Speed When Sailing?

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If you look at this question, you will find there is not just one answer to satisfy everyone. There are also a large number of risks involved when you rely on the wind to drive your boat on the water.

Pinpointing the ideal wind speed is not an easy task, so we will take a look at it from different angles. Not all people are the same, and not all boats are the same size, so many different factors need to be considered here.

To find out what is the ideal wind speed when sailing for you, keep on reading and see for yourself.

How to Determine the Ideal Wind Speed When Sailing

There are a number of elements that will influence the final answer for you. We will list these elements you need to consider to determine the ideal wind speed for you when sailing.

Types of People and Training

The question here is whether you are an adventurous person, or are you more a fair-weather type of person. Many people will tell you that it is better to start out in a little bit faster winds to get you out of your comfort zone.

It is harder as a beginner with faster wind speeds, so according to experts, you should practice at the speeds you are not good at. This may sound like good advice if you always have someone with you to keep an eye on you, but not when you are alone.

Keep in mind that stronger winds will put a lot of stress on your boat’s rigging and even more with a smaller boat. So for beginners, it is best to start at less than 10 knots and always have someone to look out for you.

For fair-weather people, stay with a speed that is comfortable for you, so 5 knots might be ideal on a small boat. For absolute beginner training, even the more adventurous type, under 10 knots is a reasonable and safe speed to begin with.

If you are more advanced and want to do some serious training, it is good to train at speeds of 10 to 15 knots.

Boat Sizes

With smaller boats, as mentioned before, it is better to go for wind speeds of around 5 to 12 knots for your safety. You do not know whether the boat will be able to handle faster wind speeds before it capsizes, so rather be on the safe side.

Small Sailboats

With small boats like sunfish, you do not want to go over 15 knots to keep you and your boat safe. Wind speeds of faster than 15 knots will easily overpower your boat and the rigging while putting you at risk.

If you want to sail again tomorrow and the day after that, you need to be patient and take it one day at a time.

Medium Size Sailboats

With larger boats of up to 26 feet, you can safely go for wind speeds of 10 to 20 knots for beginners and for training. At 20 knots wind speeds, the boat will come more alive, which is great for those more adventurous sailors out there.

Large Sailboats

Larger sailboats of more than 26 feet will need 15 to 25 knots of wind speeds to make the boat come alive. But it is more in the top regions of around 25 knots that you will gain more momentum and be much more adventurous.

Experts claim that larger sailboats will need more than 12 knots of wind speeds to come alive for a decent sailing experience. It is at around 25 knots that the boat will feel more alive and take you out of your comfort zone.

With winds that are not choppy and waves that are still a bit smooth, it’s easy to manage speeds of 25 knots on larger boats. You should keep in mind that there are more than just the wind speeds you need to look out for.

At wind speeds higher than 23 knots, larger sailboats start heeling or leaning over into the water when the wind pushes them. Some people do not like that, so if you are one of them, you should not go for wind speeds faster than 23 knots.

Personal Preferences

This factor is one that only you can really answer, so we will look at one question, and that is: why do you want to sail? The answer to this will make a difference to the final solution. If you want to sail for recreational purposes, a lower wind speed is better.

On the other hand, if you are learning to sail to take part in competitions, you need to go for the more adventurous training. If you do not want to be in competitions but still like the adventure, you need to get yourself a medium-sized sailboat.

As we said before, if you are adventurous, you can go for nice 20 knots wind speeds to take you places.

A good thing to keep in mind is to sail at wind speeds that are comfortable for you at your level of expertise. The wind speed should also not exceed your sailboat’s overall hull speed, as that will make it dangerous for you.

This means if you are a beginner, you do not need to hurt yourself while training just to prove a point. Remember, there are many years of happy sailing you can use to show off your skills when you are ready to do it.

Final Thoughts

When it comes to the ideal wind speed and how fast you should be sailing, the rule of thumb is if you feel comfortable and are able to navigate the boat safely, you are at the right speed for you. It is quite important to know your limitations and your boat’s limitations and how far you can push them.

Hopefully, this will answer your question thoroughly and help you with your sailing adventures.

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