There are plenty of ways to spend your leisure time, so what makes sailing so special? The answer lies in the variety it has to offer.
There is one thing sailing isn’t short of, and that’s stereotypes. For many people who have never had contact with the sport their first thought is of luxury yachts, millionaires and lots of glamour. The reality is very different. The types of sailing you can get involved in are many and varied, and so are its participants. They can range from eight to 80 years old (and younger, or older), from the very fit athlete, to those slightly less fit who sail for fun, or the disabled sailor, from beginner to expert, keen racer to laid back cruiser and every shade in between.
It is this variety which means for many sailing becomes a sport for life, as during different stages in your life you may dip in and out of different areas depending on your circumstances. You might start as a child, sailing at a small local club, perhaps crewing for a friend or a parent. Perhaps you progress to helming on your own, then as you grow maybe join the sailing club and get involved in team racing. Your first pay packet might lead you to buy your first boat, and you might start traveling to events around the country. You may have a family and simply sail on holiday, or have a small dinghy that you sail for a weekend now and again, or sail locally. It is a sport that can cater for a huge range of interests, tastes and budgets.
Sailing is also one of the few sports that can truly be enjoyed by the whole family, from youngest child to grandparents, and it’s a great sport for parents to enjoy with children, whether it be sailing together in a double handed dinghy, in singlehanded dinghies, or as a larger group on a yacht.
One of the sport’s biggest myths is its expense. Yes, you can spend lots on a luxury yacht, but a second-hand dinghy and sailing club membership can be very inexpensive indeed. While some specific items of clothing will add to your comfort and enjoyment, the list of essentials is pretty small and there are a host of budget kit manufacturers as well as the big brand names.
The social side of the sport is another one of its strengths. By joining a sailing club you can meet a range of people from all walks of life. Most clubs have youth sections and there are a lot of events for young sailors, making it a great way to meet new friends. And you don’t have to be close to the sea, a huge number of people sail each weekend on small reservoirs and lakes across the country. Smaller clubs are generally cheaper, and there are plenty to choose from so you can pick one that suits your pocket and your personal taste.
The basics can be learnt easily in a week or over a number of sessions, it doesn’t take long for you to be able to sail around a triangular course on your own. To begin with it’s about getting to grips with sitting in the right place, steering, changing direction and trimming the sails. As you progress you will learn to do these more quickly and efficiently to get the most out of the boat. From there, however, there is a lifetime of learning and progression, which will always provide you with new challenges if you choose to take them.
Having learnt the basics, most people progress into racing. Organised by clubs and classes across your country, racing round a course is a great way to improve your skills and have a lot of fun along the way. For most people racing is not about going to the Olympics, although there are plenty of opportunities for talented youngsters to progress through to top-level competition. Racing at a local sailing club usually involves a variety of classes of boat and a huge range of abilities and experience across a wide age range.
As you gain in confidence you may choose to travel to open meetings at other clubs, or to regional or national championships.
New To Sailing?
Trying to get a foot in the door (or on the deck) of a new sport can be daunting: Who do I contact to try and get involved in Sailing? Do I have to join a club? Where can I learn to sail? These are some common questions that are asked of Yachting Association of India and it’s Members.
Yachting Association of India has developed training schemes for sailing, powerboating and windsurfing, including both theoretical and practical training. These courses are provided by registered Yachting Association of India Training Centres which can be run through a club or commercial outlets.
Yachting Association of India’s clubs also provide services to those who are new to sailing. We also provide an opportunity for people with disabilities to participate in sailing, through the program.
Please read the information provided through various articles in this website which may help you get started in this sport. If you have further queries, they should be directed to the sailing clubs in your area.
How do I get started?
There are a variety of ways to get into sailing, the two easiest being to undertake a Yachting Association of India’s training course or to start crewing for someone else.
The Yachting Association of India Training Schemes are nationally recognised and span from beginners in small boats, yachts and powerboats, to sailing and racing offshore. These are taught at Yachting Association of India approved Training Centres (TCs), including clubs and commercial schools, all around India.
The sailing community and sailing clubs are also keen to encourage new sailors and often have “try sailing days”, social sailing events and open days. Attending one of these is a good way to find someone looking for crew who may be willing to give you experience (to support what you have learned at a TC). Many yacht clubs also conduct twilight races, which are usually less serious, with shorter races than Saturday or Sunday racing. Skippers for these races are usually more willing to take on inexperienced hands at these events.
What do I need to get started?
If you are intending to start on a small boat, a basic level of fitness is required and it is suggested that you can swim at least 50m. For all boats, here is some basic safety equipment to help you get started:
* Personal Flotation Device (PFD), otherwise known as a life jacket
* Sailing gloves are recommended
As you advance through sailing, you may require additional equipment such as wet / dry suits for offshore racing or trapeze harness for skiffs and high performance dinghies.
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