NED – Interactive Sailing Instructor

NED is an interactive online sailing instructor developed by NauticEd – The World’s Most Advanced Online Sailing School.

The educational sailing training tool uses interactive flash technology to show novice sailors how to set the sail trim according to the wind direction which maximizes the efficiency of the sails. The tool teaches in about 5 minutes that which sometimes takes hours on a sailboat. Sailing Instructors worldwide are adopting this tool as the standard for teaching basic sail trim.

To play with NED below – READ THIS FIRST.

There are 4 main controls:
Mainsail: Sheet-in and sheet-out (pull the main sail in or let it out)
Headsail: Sheet-in and sheet-out
Helm: Turn to port or starboard
Wind Speed: Click the red triangle to change the speed of the wind

IMPORTANT: The center dial represents a true wind meter on a sailboat. All windmeters have the boat pointing straight up because you are standing behind the wind meter when on a boat. On NED however, there is one slight difference to simulate the boat turning when you depress the helm button. The boat will turn but will flick back up to its proper position when the helm button is released. You will notice then that the wind direction and the HDG (compass heading) has appropriately changed according to how much you turned the sailboat.

As you turn you’ll notice that the speed of the boat changes as with the efficiency slider bar across the bottom. the trick is to maximize the speed and efficiency for the wind direction.

Go ahead and try it out. Here are some exercises – each time set the sails to maximize the sailboat speed.

  • Turn the boat to 120 degrees off the wind on Starboard (wind from the right hand side of the boat). Notice the screen will announce the point of sail “Broad Reach”
  • Turn the boat to 90 degrees off the wind on starboard (“Beam reach”)
  • Now change the wind speed to 20 knots and notice the change in boat speed.
  • Tack the boat through the wind to 30 degrees on port (“Close Haul”)
  • Turn the boat to 80 degrees onport
  • Now go to 180 degrees (wind directly behind)
  • You’ll see the sails gybe over when you go to about 170 degrees.

Play with NED as much as you like until you really feel you have the hang of the sail set. You’ll discover that this is almost exactly what you’ll need to be doing when out sailing. See below for a few tips about sailing with a windmeter. Once you’ve mastered NED – you can play with the Advanced sailing Instructor version on the NauticEd Online Sailing School website.

Access to NED is provided FREE to the world courtesy of

Windmeters are great because you don’t have to keep looking at the top of the mast (and around the bimini) to find the exact direction of the wind. Therefore learning to sail with a windmeter is a necessary skill. When sailing with a windmeter here is a sailing tip which we cover in the NauticEd Skipper Course.

One issue that appears most often with new sailors is focusing too much attention on the electronic wind meter or the wind direction indicator (the pointy arrow thing at the top of the mast). Imagine driving down the highway looking at your speedometer for more than 10 seconds. You would surely have an accident. Now relate this to looking at your wind instruments. As with a speedometer in a car, you only need to look at them for long enough to gain the information it is telling you (IE check wind instruments for about 1 second every 10 seconds). The rest of the time your eyes should be up out of the boat and looking at your surroundings and the horizon taking note of which tree, house, cloud, island etc that you are sailing towards to hold a straight course. You make your course corrections when looking out of the boat then you check the wind instruments to see if you’re back on the desired wind angle. If not then lift your head out of the boat again and make a new course correction. In this manner you can judge exactly how much your boat is turning.

If you make course corrections while looking at the wind instruments you will tend to over shoot every time. So the Sailing Technique is to keep your head out of the boat and check the windmeter in short glaces. Think about trying to drive down a highway using a compass only and stay in a straight line or make a 90 degree turn using a compass. Not really possible or practical yet the tendency to do this when sailing is high. Rid your self of any such habit from day 1.

People ask “well what if you’re on the open ocean and there are no objects to point at”. Don’t worry – by the time you get to the open ocean you’ll have the “FEEL”.

This discussion is equally similar when you give the helm over to a novice. The best thing to do to a novice is to start them out by having them aim at something so that they can get used to sailing in a straight line using small 1/4 turn max corrections on the wheel. Trying to explain to someone who has never taken the wheel about the wind indicators is pretty pointless.

As you’re becoming more confident in your sailing abilities you can test your self out on a clear steady wind day by looking at the wake you’re leaving and ensuring it is in a straight line. This will tell you if you’re tending to slightly over steer and keeping focused on the job at hand.

The previous discussion was taken from the NauticEd Skipper Course.

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My vision for NauticEd is to provide the highest quality sailing and boating education available - and deliver competence wherever sailors live and go.
Grant Headifen
Last updated on July 8th, 2022