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Where To Sail

4: Matching club and boat

One point to bear in mind is that many clubs have restrictions on the boats they sail. The advantage of this is that it provides fantastic, level-class racing in big fleets for the boats that are supported. Other clubs offer handicap racing, which takes account of the differences in speed between different designs of boat, and normally uses the RYA’s Portsmouth Yardstick Scheme. Many clubs have both fast and slow handicap fleets, so that the boats in any individual race do not differ too widely in terms of speed.

The key advantage of choosing to sail in a handicap fleet is that you have freedom to choose the design of boat you want to sail. However, you will not know your actual position in the race until the race officer calculates the overall results, after the last boat has finished. With class racing, on the other hand, you know your position all the time, and you have the challenge of more boat-on-boat jostling for position, which adds to the excitement and creates a greater tactical challenge.

Even clubs that offer handicap racing may place a restriction on the maximum size of boat they allow, especially if they sail on a small area of water. This is one reason why, even if you already have an idea of the class of dinghy you would like to sail, it is usually best to defer the actual purchase until after you have made a definite decision as to which club to join.

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Try to speak to a number of other new members to gauge their experiences

Next page:5 Other opportunities

Many local authorities also have watersports training facilities

More articles on starting sailing or racing