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1. This term means a wind shift to the right when facing the wind. A north wind veers when it shifts to the northeast, a southwest wind veers when it shifts to the west. This is the meaning of this term used by practicing sailors and meteorologists around the world, in both North and South Hemispheres. Also called clocking, meaning the wind direction moves clockwise. The west wind clocked around to the northwest. A change in the opposite direction, to the left, is called a backing shift. See back. See G135.
2. For completeness, however, we must add that Bowditch gives a different definition, namely to change direction in a clockwise direction in the Northern Hemisphere and a counterclockwise direction in the Southern Hemisphere. The USCG exams reflect this latter definition in the wording of some questions, however, to our knowledge there are not any actual questions that have the wind veering to the left in the Southern Hemisphere.
In support of the Bowditch usage, there is some evidence that in older usage, the phrase "shifted toward the sun's direction" or "away from the sun's direction" allowed for a consistent discussion of wind shifts in either hemisphere. A veer would then be toward the sun's direction of motion and a back would be away from it. Nevertheless, today practicing professional meteorologists and sailors around the world in both hemispheres use the definition (1) given above.
3. Of the wind on a vessel, to shift aft. The opposite motion is to haul forward.
See G135 for an illustration of veering and backing winds.
See also G122 for a depiction of a veering sea breeze.
The effect of a veer on sailing progress is often expressed as either a lift or a header. See G260.