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One of the best ways to understand sailing is that is is a series of techniques executed at just the right times. That's why a good sailing guide always reinforces the importance of proper communication among on sailors on a given boat. A jibe is a common example. When a boom swings from one side of the boat to the other, the boat is said to have changed tacks. When a boat is sailing downwind, this change of tacks is called a jibe.
Before a jibe is performed, the crew starts to trim in the main sheet to avoid the boom flying across the boat at high speed, which can cause injury. As the boom nears the middle of the boat, the helmsman calls the jibe command. If you are a first-time sailor confused about where to put the tiller in a jibe, turn the bow of the boat toward to the mainsail.
If a jibe isn't executed correctly, it can cause the boat to go out of control. But, jibing--handled safely--can be a good way of changing tacks. Many beginners turn the boat too far in a jibe, further contributing to its feared reputation. Only attempt a jibe if the helmsman is an advanced sailor and any novices aboard understand jibe sailing techniques as they should be performed.