Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: New Jersey
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Re: Teaching sailing
David, ...I've found that students have more difficulty adapting to which direction to move a tiller than a wheel. With the wheel you just steer where you want to go. For oversteering it often depends on the course and the conditions.
For close hauled, I explain that the boat ( most) will want to head-up into the wind and stall itself. So, get close hauled and have them let go of the wheel and then let the boat head up into irons to demonstrate. Then explain that the boat takes a little time to respond to a course change, so they just need to make small changes. Light air, always makes it harder to get them to feel the boat.
I also try to find something they can relate to. Don't laugh..but often I compare it to walking a dog, that wants to pull on the leash and sniff every tree. But if you just nudge it a little it will come back, then relax ..don't choke the dog. ;-) (oversteer) It's a feel thing. Let them feel the boat, it will slow if pinching and, if they fall off too much. If they ride horses, same thinking... eventually they'll feel where the sweet spot is, understand that the boat wants to stall itself, and we just want to nudge it a little to keep it from doing so.
And of course, as boat speed increases it moves the apparent wind forward..so they need to sail the wind....I don't typicaly don't follow compass courses in a basic sailing class..
For other points of sail. If you have tell tales on the shrouds I find that helps them a little
Close hauled - tell tale points toward the leech of the mainsail
Close reach - center of the main
Beam reach - tell tale points to the mast
Broad reach - tell tale points to the jib/genoa etc.
Beginners are not typically ready to understand all the fine points of sail trim until they get the basics. ( like where is the wind coming from !! ) So they're not comfortable steering and looking to see what the genoa tell tales are doing at the same time . Looking up at the masthead is also distracting. Once they get the shroud tell tales..which are in their line of sight, you can slowly work in the other finer points.
They have to be allowed to make mistakes..and try to find the wind again. If an instructor is constantly grabbing the wheel or the tiller they'll never "feel" boat.
There's no secrets...some will spend all day just trying to figure out where the wind is coming from..( and it hasn't changed) Others will get it right away .. and most are somewhere in between.
Each student learns in a different way. The key is finding out what they can relate to..and how they learn.
I'll probably get in trouble for this, but women seem to be more intuitive, they feel the boat..and focus better... Men seem to want to know right away .what all the parts are, how everything works....( mechanically and theoretically.) but everyone is different. Teach the student, not the material.
Last edited by tempest; 09-10-2013 at 02:08 AM.