a) The angles for the weight and handling sails are wrong. The way these sails work in game is not how they work in real life. This really breaks the immersion and makes sailing less intuitive.
b) Not only could this 'fix' be purely graphical at this stage - it could also easily be expanded beyond this to make the handling and weight sails viable choices when choosing main-sails via added gameplay elements - which I will go into below for those who are keen for a quick read.
The game suffers because the sails are too similar - they are things that rotate to the nearest direction of the wind - with slight gimmicky speed and angle and weight values plugged on to distract the player into thinking these sails are worth thinking about. In reality, these sails function very differently, and including these functions ingame will make the sailing aspect (one of, if not arguably ,the main aspect of the game) much more dynamic, and rewarding for those who follow different play styles.
At this stage its hard to tell how much research the devs did into tall-ship sailing - no doubt they got the basics right - square sails were speed sails, handling (only on modern boats but tall-ships had stay-sails) or gafs(weight sails) were for pointing upwind. But the inclusion of rotating booms that go infront of the mast pointing handling/weight sails literally into the wind makes me think more research is a good idea. Including more realistic sailing mechanics has the possibility to deepen and enrich the gameplay - not damage it. Ironically, I believe further complicating the system it will actually make sailing easier for the novice - who can stick with certain sail types for ease of use - and deepen the strategic depth of those who want to challenge themselves.
Current sail "choices"
Speed - faster, harder to set and sheet
Handling - normal speed, wider angle of effectiveness (can point higher to the wind), very fast handling
Weight - normal speed, harder to set and sheet, adds weight to the ship.
The problem with these choices is that weight sails become nearly useless (especially since weight is a level-able stat), and they are difficult to set. All pvp builds I've come across opt for maximum sized speed sails and 1 small handling. Those who are good at sailing just go for double speed. Some who just want to 'run' away go for double handling for the higher wind point, thus ensuring an escape against a faster opponent so long as its 'clear' sailing.
The game currently manages to miss a major perk of the handling and weight sails - that they are 'symmetrical'. This means that when ship is tacking upwind, you can 'set and forget' these types of sail, (the direction being parallel to the boat pointing aft) this allows the wind to be caught at the greatest possible angle upwind. In this set-up, when one performs a tack, the sail does not need to reset - however the sail DOES need to be reset after performing a gib. This has two great consequences - solo players who dont have NPC's or early build ships will have both an easier time sailing upwind and it encourages the use of both handling AND weight sails (not having to set a weight sail every tack really makes them more viable by removing their slowness con).
Speed - these don't need to change - they're perfect, if anything however, any upwind angle for these sails could be removed - they physically can't go upwind and were designed for bearing down on an opponent at great speed - but downwind only. this gives you control of the engagement if you find yourself upwind of ur opponent.
Handling - these need to function symetrically - instead of rotating to point into the wind they should be let out and let in from the 'central position' of the boom parallel to the ship. letting the boom out will catch the most wind downwind, letting it in will allow the ship to point very high into the wind. Performing a tack should be very easy with these sails, performing a gib should at the very least require resetting .
Weight sails - function exactly like handling sails - except they are slower to set - and if a gib occurs and they have to fling from one side to the other you could add 'sail' damage to it. Additionally, they should add armour to the boat too.
Addition of the STAY SAIL - these sails should be able to be placed between masts - this also encourages multiple masted boats as they have more manouvering over single masted (finally a large sail is faster than two mediums - but the possibility of an upwind stay sail sways the decision into a real toss up for the player) . These sails function like handling sails and are very easy to set and forget. They allow the boats to go upwind a lot more effortlessly. These also really make tall-ships look like tall ships - at the moment, Atlas ships look naked inbetween the masts.
Anyway, thanks if you've made it this far.
at least graphically fix the handling and weight sails!