Basic Sailing

Where to begin (Ian Hall)

When the sailing bug starts to nibble, one of the first questions the would be sailor asks himself is how to do something about it.

Sailing is a sport that is taken fairly seriously by the majority of those who indulge in it. It is a sport that should be taken seriously, for the satisfaction and achievement gained from this approach is ample reward for the dedication and effort. The obvious and intelligent way to start is to learn from an expert, and if one is lucky enough to find an experienced hand with the time and ability to teach, then this is ideal. But, however it is gained, a knowledge of the basics of sailing is the first essential.

Most of the sailing fraternity who are equipped to offer instruction, advice, tuition, or whatever, belong to one type of sailing club or another, such as cater for ocean racing, general cruising, or “round the mark” dinghy racing, and it is worth saying that the majority of top sailors commence their sailing careers in dinghies, graduating from the so-called training classes, through the more sophisticated types and high performance racing machines which the top boats have virtually become.

There are a variety of clubs which cater for the sailor and their variety comes mostly from the different classes of boats on the club registers. Clubs provide for a number of individual divisions, so when purchasing a boat or deciding on the type of sailing he or she may prefer, the would-be sailor can choose a club to suit his taste.

Some clubs have greater social activities than others, and some have better facilities, and, whilst it is not absolutely necessary to join a club at all, the beginner would be wise to do so, as he is more able to get a thorough knowledge of yachting in all its aspects when he is a member of such a recognized group.

On the assumption that the new convert has accepted this advice, the question then arises as to which club should he or she join. Is it to be one which conducts races on open off-shore courses with the more usual fresher breezes and higher waver formations, or would it be more prudent to commence the learning process in the more sheltered waters of river courses, where the bank is never very far distant. The South Brisbane Sailing Club conducts its races on the Milton and St Lucia reaches of the Brisbane River. Whichever club you join, enter fully into the activities, as one can pick up a great deal of information in friendly discussions after club meetings when there is often a post mortem of the previous race day. The purchase and ownership of a sailing boat could fill several volumes, and it is far to complex a subject to treat in any detail in the space available here, but some points are worth mentioning, before any decision is made.

Some consideration should be given to whether the boat will be used solely for racing or if it will also be used for family pleasure cruising.

The bank balance will also have an important bearing on the class of boat finally decided upon. Remember that there is a large variation in costs between different types which may in fact look quite similar and often be not far apart in actual performance.

Collect as much information as possible before making the final decision and weigh up all the pros and cons before purchasing or building. Everyone thinks his class is the best, so the ultimate choice is yours.

Basic Sailing – Back to Square One

To be a successful sailor, one must master both the science and the art of sailing. A thorough knowledge of the effects of the elements and a means of propulsion using them can only be achieved by extensive research and application.

There are two basic methods to propel a craft using the wind: Firstly, travelling in the same direction as the wind, the wind blows the craft along, similar to leaves being blown across a lawn..

Secondly, travelling in an opposite direction to the wind, a suction and pushing force is created by high and low pressure areas that are formed when the wind is diverted by the arc shaped ‘sail’. By counteracting the heeling effect by crew weight or lead ballast and reducing the sideways movement by means of a centreboard or keel, a craft can be sucked along at about 45 degrees to the eye of the wind.

Travel in a windward direction is achieved by a series of tacks at about 45 degrees to the wind direction.

All points of sailing are either a combination or variation of these two basic methods.