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No Excuses

4: "Surely sailing is very expensive?"

This is perhaps the biggest of all the perceived barriers and itís certainly true that there are some people who spend utter fortunes on their sailing ó even dinghy sailors can be guilty of throwing eyewatering sums at their sport. But it neednít be like that ó there are also thousands of people who race dinghies worth only a few hundred pounds on very modest annual budgets.

Membership of sailing clubs tends to be much cheaper than that of golf clubs, especially those on the coast (most inland water clubs have to pay fees to the water utility companies which can put the prices up a bit) with costs varying upwards from as little as £30 a year. Donít write off joining a small club for getting started, they can be much more friendly and approachable than some of the larger and more expensive establishments.

Of course, one of the easiest ways to keep costs down is not to own a boat at all ó fortunately boat owners at all levels are always looking for people to crew. Often this is a great way to build your skills level, learning from people who are more experienced than yourself. As your own expertise increases, youíll be increasingly in demand from better helms. There can be very few dinghy sailing clubs where thereís not a demand for crew. Equally, if you want to sail offshore, big boats need lots of people to sail them, so the majority of people who race offshore never own a boat of their own.

Before offering yourself as a race crew, youíll probably need to get at least a small amount of experience. Many clubs around the country provide training that may be exactly what youíre looking for. Alternatively, a course at an RYArecognised sailing school will get you started. These are run throughout the UK and cover dinghy sailing and racing, as well as big boat sailing, although the latter is geared mostly to the needs of cruising sailors. Prices start from little more than £100 for a weekend.

Those wanting to race big boats are catered for by many sea schools, such as Sailing Logic, On Deck Sailing and Five Star Sailing, where training thatís geared specifically to yacht racing is followed by competing in inshore or offshore races. Of course, once youíre utterly hooked on racing, it becomes easier to justify spending more money on sailing, even if savings need to be made elsewhere.

Previous page:3 "But it must take ages to build enough qualifications and experience to become competent and safe?"

All clubs have safety boats of some type that provide rescue cover

Next page:5 "But what about the time commitment ó it dominates the lives of all my friends who sail?"

Itís true that the lives of many sailing enthusiasts revolve around their sailing commitments

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