This is a sailing term. When there is a steady wind, the wind passes over the boat and onto the sail. This causes the boat to tip to one side. To try and keep the boat as flat as possible and maximize speed, the crew leans back as far as s/he can over the side of the boat.
Winning the race depended upon Donna's ability to hike out as far as she could and to keep the boat flat.
by zanny May 26, 2004