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Sailing- 5 Must Things To Learn Before


Ahhh Sailing! Many of us are intimidated by how and where to start.  Considered a sport, it is unlike any other. When playing soccer, it is easy to start learning but just managing to kick a ball around a field with some friends. The boundaries of the field and the height of the goal is pretty easy to figure out. In sailing however, wind and water is constantly moving in different directions. Wind changes its strength and routes while waves and currents change the conditions overall.

In sailing, you  are essentially harnessing the power of these elements which means you better respect them because we are essentially tapping into mother natures gifts!  Before we go on please understand that what we advise here should always be followed up with conversation from a qualified instructor for the type of sailing you want to get into. We encourage you  to talk to as many sailing instructors as possible in order to achieve the results you want. Learn the basic moves while the instructor focuses on the conditions suitable for you.  The 5 most crucial things to understand before you sail are:


1. Take Sailing Lessons

sailing instructor

Instructor giving a lesson

No matter your location, chances are there is a body of water near you. And where you find sailboats you will find these instructional schools or sailing clubs with many years of instructional knowledge at your disposal. Most common sailboats that stretch 15 feet (5 meters or so) or longer typically are purposed to sail with more than one person whereas a boat 30 feet or longer is best sailed with a crew of a minimum of 4 crewman.

So if you have a local marina nearby , glance over/find the bulletin board posted and ask around and someone will surely come through for you! You might actually be shocked with an invite to go along for the ride on the first go.  It never hurts to have someone in your crew of friends or family to be fortunate enough to own a sailboat and to offer to take you out , however we still strongly recommend getting lessons from a sailing school with certified instructions before you take the solo approach.

2. Learn and Map Out your Desired Destination/Location

It’s no secret that the weather and water conditions in a given are  affect the your sailing opportunities and most that get into sailing pack away their sailing gear in the wintery/snowy latitude locations. But in southern latitude spots like Southern California, you can pretty much sail all year.

If you decide you want to go sailing on a consistent basis , whether it be salt or fresh water and nonfrozen water, then your biggest hurdles will be mastering the art of water properties ( waves, currents, temp and depth) and wind properties ( change of direction and wind strength.

Depending on where you are you may have pretty consistent whether, but many times you are in areas with lots of different variation. It’s not uncommon for a typical windy area to be right next to typically calm location due to some geographic element. That is why understating your locale is crucial for any sailor let a lone someone just starting out in this sport.

We always advise new sailors to start in areas where light to medium winds and mellow tides abound, and a school nearby will typically veer you in the right direction. As you gain some experience you can start get a taste of more difficult conditions such foggy spots in Maine, San Fran in June or The Windy City  and make even a popular channel in Hawaii.

3. Get Familiar with Wind

Its no surprise that getting in touch with how wind behaves is a critical step in how good of a sailor you will be. Sure, you can start up an engine tow it up, paddles or pushing but this is in fact sailing! harnessing the power of the sails makes wind analysis the most important thing when it comes to sailing.

It controls the sailors universe. To call yourself a sailor you must heighten your awareness and knowledge of weather and a big piece of that will be understanding wind direction. Keep your eyes peeled for a nearby flag and use what direction it points to as a hint for which way the wind is coming from. Wind direction is important because you will be able to move your boat by altering the angles of the sails relative to winds movement.

When you change direction or the wind picks up a different way you have to change your sail trim or another words the angles of your sails  relative to the wind.  No matter the consistency of the weather inland, the winds speed and direction is constantly changing. Being cognoscente of this is honestly one of the biggest things you can master in the sport of sailing .

It is also really important for your safety and comfort levels. Being able to sense the wind’s speed is also important too so you pass on days when you can get stuck with no wind, a phenomena called becalming! Quickly tuning into to a local marine forecaster in your local is an easy want to avoid those situations. Or even worse, situations that call for uber sailing experience when maybe the weather is too strong to partake that can be extremely dangerous.

4. Identifying and Understanding the Hull

the hull is the main floating system of most boats and can usually be put together with a slew of different materials, like fiberglass, cement , metal and plastic. The hull can vary in size from surfboard size to as big as 30 yards long or a third of  a football field. you can sense how quick a boat by the shape of the hull and body of the boat in the same light of how a sports car looks in contrast to a station wagon or mini van ( big wide and heavy boats will be slower), while fast boats will be more of a narrow, cut throw wind looking machines.

Sailboats come in three basic types based on the shape of their hull:



Monohull sailboat: These type of sailboats will be your most common type. With one hull , most of your racing is done with this kind. Even further, keelboats and dinghies are the most common type of monohull sailboat. Most sailing schools will use these kind of boats. When you peer over to most marinas you will see this kind of boat.


catamaran floating above water

l find this kind of boat most often. Different types of monohull sailboats like ketch, sloop and catboat monohulls are your primary 3 when identifying mono’s.

Multihull: these sailboats with more than one hull. A catamaran ( 2 hulls) or trimaran ( 3 ) would fall under this category . With multihull boats one hull would be designed to lift out of the water which will give the feeling that you are soaring over the water like superman by using the force of wind to enable the boat to have this effect. It is so thrilling!

Sailboards: With sailboards you get the surfboard effect and they are easy to pack onto car for a quick and fun experience without breaking your back. The physics on this sailboat are so fun! They are of the smaller sailboat variety and extremely fun with sport in mind. Sailboards are great for windsurfing on any occasion and definitely a workout!


5. Other basic parts of sailboats you should know

On the backside sailboats you will usually find a rotating fin called a rudder. This part helps navigate and turn the boat. To the middle portion of the underside of most sailboats sits a fin called a keel. Keels protect the boat from tipping over sideways .

It can be considered as the balance motherboard and it also helps tip the boat vertically so the boat can  sail closer to the wind. (When you are sailing, the sails and fins actually work in unison to form a wing like effect. The keel fin typically is immovable and comprised of heavy duty materials such as lead. Centerboards will usually be keels that can retract and are much lighter in weight. Is 15 mph wind strong for sailing? It is strong enough!

I hope we helped clear a few things with this article and hope you have a great time learning and growing as a sailor! For other information on sailboat anatomy  and dinghie and keelboat sailing click here . For private sailing lessons near me click here. For asa sailing courses near me click here


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