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Onshore Versus Offshore Winds In Sailing

Updated: Aug 19, 2023

You should always take into account the direction the wind is coming when you launch and land or dock your boat, as it can propel you into other crafts on the water, or could even push you back to shore.


It can determine how fast or slow you go, and it can also help you manoeuvre around the water.



Onshore Winds


Onshore winds are exactly what they sound like: they blow from land towards water - meaning that the wind is coming from the shore. These are typically not ideal for sailing because they create waves that can make it hard to depart or land your boat smoothly, especially if the tide happens to be coming in (as this will create two forces against each other).


An onshore wind causes waves to break earlier.


How do you do a beach launch with an onshore wind?


  • Have the sail fully hoisted before you get in the boat.

  • Hold the boat into the wind.

  • Dagger/centre board up,

  • Rudder up.

  • Jump in and sail very close to the wind. When your boat moves into deeper water, push the dagger board and rudder down,

  • Finally tighten the kicking strap and settle in!


Offshore Winds


Offshore winds blow from water towards land. They are coming from across the sea (off the shore)! These are typically better for sailing because they create less waves and make it easier to depart and land your boat smoothly.


An offshore wind causes waves to break later.



a female sailor launches her boat from a beach. It is a clean sunny day.


How do you do a beach launch with an offshore wind?


With an offshore wind, the water and conditions will generally be calmer, but you have to pay attention or else you could end up being pushed back onto shore by the wind.


  • Have the sail fully hoisted before you get in the boat.

  • Hold the boat into the wind.

  • Dagger/centre board up,

  • Rudder up.

  • Turn the boat until you are on the windward side (the side of the boat that the wind his first)

  • Climb in!

  • When your boat moves into deeper water, push the dagger board and rudder down,

  • Finally tighten the kicking strap and settle in!



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