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Start Keelboat Racing

4: Getting a sail

One of the best ways is to join a club that sails keelboats and ask around — the class captains are often the best initial contact and will introduce you to boat owners. Even if you don’t get any immediate offers, you can offer to assist with race officer duties, which will establish your interest and get you known at the club. You’ll learn a lot about racing through being involved, even if you’re not actually sailing the first few weekends.

Equally, if there’s a specific event you’re interested in, the event website or forum will often have a register of owners who are looking for crew (and also one on which you can register your own details). Don’t be put off if you have a bad experience — occasionally you’ll find an owner who’s an ogre, but there are many more who are great people to sail with and will be understanding of your level of skill.

Many of the same principles for progressing beyond the basics in dinghy and multihull racing apply equally to keelboats and Sportsboats. In particular, approaching learning as a continuous process that happens every time you sail, and evaluating your strengths and weaknesses will make a huge contribution to the rate at which you progress up the learning curve.

In addition, over time try to sail with a variety of people, in different boats and in different locations — you’ll gain something extra each time. Ask lots of questions, read lots, take as many opportunities for training and coaching as possible and maintain a realistic appraisal of the skills on which you most need to focus in order to continue moving forward.

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Many keelboats are much less physically demanding than dinghies, making them ideal for those who are less active or who have disabilities

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