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2: Essential skills

There are a few key sailing skills you’ll initially need to attain before you start racing. You’ll need to be able to tack, gybe and sail a triangular course with reasonable efficiency in favourable weather. In addition, you’ll need to be able to launch and recover from the shore and know what to do to in the event of a capsize.

A basic understanding of the fundamentals of the Racing Rules of Sailing, as well as the start procedures and sailing instructions for racing at your club, are obviously also important, as is knowledge of weather forecasting for watersports. If you’re sailing on the sea or an estuary, you’ll also need a basic understanding of the local tides. You can probably get to this level with just three weekends of tuition, the first two for Levels 1 and 2 of the RYA National Sailing Scheme, and the third for the RYA Start Racing course.

This will be enough to launch your hobby, and you’ll be able to take part in club racing, although you can’t expect to reach the front of the fleet just yet. You may even find that you only complete two laps of the course in the time that the leaders complete three, but don’t be disheartened — remember at this stage you’re on a fast learning curve and will soon be catching up with the fleet.

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It won’t be long before you’re catching up with those at the back of the leading group

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