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Go Back   SailNet Community > Skills and Seamanship > Learning to Sail
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  #1  
Old 08-06-2012
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I want to learn how to sail and then eventually start to race...

To be perfectly blunt and honest I have absolutely NO sailing experience. I desperately want to learn, but I also want to move on to competition racing. I'm eighteen years old, an upcoming college freshman, and my school does have a sailing club I'm hoping to join come fall.

And I know this is going to seem ridiculous for such a beginner, but I really - REALLY - want to do solo racing on small dinghies - heck I've looked at Laser sailors with the utmost jealousy ever since I was ten. I know my height and weight have something to do with this too - I'm 5'4" and about 135 pounds. A lot of it muscle...

I want to know what would be my best moves to begin? What's realistic for me to do? I live in the NYC area and would love to start learning, but am having trouble finding lessons of some sort.

What would anyone recommend workout/nutrition wise? What about where I should start when it comes to basic sailing?

I'm dead serious about eventually competing. I'm used to physical activity and exercise considering I've been practicing martial arts for four years, so I KNOW that a lot of solo racing requires a high level of endurance, stamina, and strength. I want to go for competitive sailing nonetheless.

Any tips would be greatly appreciated. thanks in advance everyone!
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Old 08-06-2012
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Re: I want to learn how to sail and then eventually start to race...

The college team is a great way to go.

I would approach this from two angles.

First, find some local yacht clubs that do weeknight beer can racing. This will give you some exposure to big boat racing. Concepts are the same as are most of the rules.

Second, buy yourself a small dinghy type boat. Used lasers are cheap. Get a wetsuit, life jacket and use it in protected waters.

There should be some type of sailing programs in your area. Here in Portland we have Sail Maine which is a non profit that teaches kids and adults to sail.
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Old 08-06-2012
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Re: I want to learn how to sail and then eventually start to race...

Yep, they have a few sailing programs around me, right now I'm trying to find the ones that'll work for me.

What I'm wondering is that most of these classes involve a keelboat. Like I said, though, I'm more interested in solo dinghies.

Does it matter if I start out on one versus the other? And do any NYC organizations offer something more tailored to what I'm looking for instead of what I'm finding?

Would anyone also be able to suggest a good website to buy a used dinghy? I don't know about buying one right away, but having a resource on tabs is always great.
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Old 08-07-2012
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Re: I want to learn how to sail and then eventually start to race...

We have a J-29 , doing beer can racing on L.I. Sound, we're always looking for crew. Experience less important than willingness & reliability. Racing is the best way to learn, don't be intimidated. ..Call me 917-701-4378
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Old 08-07-2012
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Re: I want to learn how to sail and then eventually start to race...

Leena,

If you live in the city try the sailing program close to Chelsea piers. Keel boats, but well organized and good teaching ( don't go to MYC in Battery, they used to be great, now they are a complete rip off )

If you live in Westchester - try the City Island school. (forgot the name)

If you have POSH friends or coworkers, try to get a race ride at one of the local YCs.

People are always looking for crew on dinghies - the Vanguard 15 fleet at Larchmont is the best dinghy fleet in the area - but might be difficult for a complete newbie to get a spot.
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Old 08-07-2012
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Re: I want to learn how to sail and then eventually start to race...

definitely try to jump in as crew on a friend's boat before going out by yourself - unless your goal is to get wet a bunch of times. and i would not want to be getting wet in the water around NYC... LOL

Welcome!
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Old 08-08-2012
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Re: I want to learn how to sail and then eventually start to race...

Look here for local resources:
Where To Sail
Racers are consistently generous and will want you to succeed. Call the Senior Fleet Captain at a club that is close by. Ask how they can help get you started.
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Old 08-29-2012
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Re: I want to learn how to sail and then eventually start to race...

There are many boats or yachts in my hometown. The life of our local people depend on it. Every family nearly own it and every man can sail it. But we never do competition racing. I think if you want to move on competition racing, maybe you can attend training center. And there, the coach will teach you how to sail and master the skills about it. I just watch the sailing program on TV and i feel that it is interesting.
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Old 09-02-2012
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Re: I want to learn how to sail and then eventually start to race...

Quote:
Originally Posted by lenaaa714 View Post
Yep, they have a few sailing programs around me, right now I'm trying to find the ones that'll work for me.

What I'm wondering is that most of these classes involve a keelboat. Like I said, though, I'm more interested in solo dinghies.

Does it matter if I start out on one versus the other? And do any NYC organizations offer something more tailored to what I'm looking for instead of what I'm finding?

Would anyone also be able to suggest a good website to buy a used dinghy? I don't know about buying one right away, but having a resource on tabs is always great.
Bob Bavier, a Hall of Fame yacht racer, said that, as a youth, he raced in one class of boat for a year or two and then switched to a different class. He explained that, by sailing in different classes, he was exposed to the racing techniques of the best sailors in each class, which gave him a very intense learning experience. Accordingly, my advice is, don't stick with a single class of boat indefinitely. Learn from as many different racers as you can.
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Old 09-03-2012
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Re: I want to learn how to sail and then eventually start to race...

Lenaaa,

Welcome! My son is a college sailor, although on a small intramural team on a shoestring budget. College sailing is great for teaching tactics, basic boat handling, and starts. Because the fleets are usually big-ish, the boats are rugged but not super-fancy, and the courses are typically short, it isn't generally as good for learning tuning and boat speed (frequently adjusting the rigging and controls of more sophisticated boats that are found in higher-level competition such as the Olympics).

If you are particularly interested in solo/Laser sailing, it makes sense to find a Laser fleet somewhere around your area, and sail with the Laser fleets as well as in college. You may be able to afford a middle-level boat that's good enough to let you compete and spend lots of time on the water and get to know the equipment really well. Some areas have sailing co-ops, community sailing centers, and sailing and yacht clubs that might have boats available; keep searching and networking until you find what you need.

And, even if you aren't wanting to go into keelboats as your focus, crewing on race boats is a very cheap way to learn skills. Be there, be reliable, be humble, and build a good reputation. And who knows, if you plug into a local yacht or sailing club and start crewing on big boats, you might get lucky and find someone who has a nice dinghy you could use.
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