Heads down, but take it easy

The secret of happy gybing lies in how the boat is steered. With enough breeze to make gybing an issue, steer 5° or 10° above a dead run, then heave the mainsheet right in and make it fast. Now steer the stern carefully across the wind just far enough to gybe, AND NO FURTHER. The boom will flop across like a lamb, but the radical change in sail balance will make the boat want to round up sharply, especially as she is already being steered towards the wind on the new gybe. The trick is to counteract this by applying a solid nudge of ‘opposite helm’ as the boom cones over, almost as though you were correcting a skid on the road. When things have settled down, ease away the sheet and trim for the new course. If it’s windy and the boat is of a skittish persuasion, you’ll have to do this smartly.