A kicker, also known as a boom vang, is an important piece of equipment on a sailboat. It is used to control the shape of the mainsail and provide additional power when sailing upwind. The purpose of a kicker is to reduce the amount of heeling (leaning) of the boat when sailing upwind and to increase the power generated by the mainsail.
The kicker works by connecting the boom to the mast with a line or cable. When tension is applied to this line, it pulls down on the boom and flattens out the mainsail. This reduces heeling and increases power from the sail. The kicker can also be used to reduce leech twist (the tendency for air flow across one side of a sail to be faster than on the other side). This helps keep the sail more efficient and reduces drag.
Kickers are adjustable, allowing sailors to fine-tune their sails for different conditions. In light winds, less tension can be applied so that more power is generated from the sail. In stronger winds, more tension can be applied so that less heeling occurs and more control is maintained over the boat’s direction.
Kickers are an essential part of any sailboat’s rigging and should be checked regularly for wear and tear. They should also be adjusted according to wind conditions in order to get maximum performance from your sails. With proper use and maintenance, kickers can help you get more out of your sailing experience!