Tacking or coming about is a sailing maneuver by which a sailing vessel (which is sailing approximately into the wind) turns its bow into the wind through the 'no-go zone' so that the direction from which the wind blows changes from one side to the other.
For example, if a vessel is sailing on a starboard tack with the wind blowing from the right side and tacks, it will end up on a port tack with the wind blowing from the left side. See the image at the right; the red arrow indicates the wind direction. This maneuver is frequently used when the desired direction is (nearly) directly into the wind.
In practice, the sails are set at an angle of 45° to the wind for conventional sailships and the tacking course is kept as short as possible before a new tack is set in. Rotor ships can tack much closer to the wind, 20 to 30°.
The opposite maneuver, i.e. turning the stern through the wind, is called jibing (or wearing on square-rigged ships). Tacking more than 180° to avoid a jibe (mostly in harsh conditions) is sometimes referred to as a 'chicken jibe'.
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