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post #13 of Old 01-11-2005
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WESTSAIL 32 and similar

As I have said before in this forum, there is no substitute for learning to sail in dinghys first. HOWEVER, for those who insist on ignoring my sage advice, there are zero cost options on keelboats. (wanna_sail had written, "Crewing may be an option but it is probably difficult to find someone who wants a husband & wife team that has almost no sailing experience.") Not the case, if you are willing to entertain the thought of RACING. (RACE? - but I can hardly sail!!) That''s OK, since in a race, for efficiency, all the jobs are divided up among a large crew; you just have to learn one job at a time. (Don''t worry, you will not be assigned to the foredeck right away!) Go to your local marina and find out what night(s) they do their "beer can" races. These are more casual, usually w/o spinnaker, races. As you walk among the boats preparing for the race you will see some boats with the crew all in matching livery; keep walking. You will soon come upon a skipper with a more motley crew and an imploring look, "Do you guys know how to sail?" (Don''t worry, all he will insist upon is a pulse.) The one question you should ask him is, "Are you a yeller?" (Its no fun to be yelled at and no way to learn.) Have your own PFDs (with a personal strobe attached if it is an evening race), foul weather gear, and proper non-marring shoes. He will provide the food and beer. Many cruising types scorn the "around-the-buoys" crowd. I think this is a big mistake. Racing is not only about wringing every last tenth of a knot out of a boat. It is also about boat-handling, which every cruiser should care very much about. And a racing venue lets you focus on one sub-set of sailing skills at a time. You will be a mainsheet trimmer one night and perhaps a genoa trimmer the next, then eventually you may be asked to helm the boat. It builds your sailing skills, costs you nothing, gets you exposed to many different boat designs, and increases your circle of sailing friends. What''s not to like?

Owen McCall
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