Originally Posted by Faster
Offering to be 'rail meat' is a place to start, but indicate that you're eager and anxious to learn and you shouldn't be on the rail too long.
Most clubs and casual racing fleets are welcoming to enthusiastic newcomers. Key here is to be reliable.. ie show up when you say you will, and don't bail because it's raining, or too cold, etc. Reliable crew is a tough find so if you make yourself one you'll be routinely invited back, likely with increasing responsibility as you learn.
You really can 'learn for free'.. if you get lucky you'll experience a variety of boat styles and sizes so that when the inevitable time comes when you want to queer the good (free) deal you've got going and want to buy your own boat you'll have a better idea of what you want!
Just find out when race day is and hang out and ask if anyone needs crew... easy....
I was surprised how I could go down to the marina in Honolulu and get free sails! And if you're only going for a couple hours a race is the best kind! And then it's like a free party afterwards with new friends. It's seriously the best thing you can do for free in this world. Besides surfing. They are both good. You can jumpoff the boat after the race as it pulls into the harbor and surf the breakwater. But don't do it too many times because you're really supposed to help put the boat away.