Learning to Sailing in the wake of the Olympics

Learning to Sail with First Class Sailing, UK

Learning to Sail with First Class Sailing

Perhaps the sailing Olympians inspire you to give sailing a go.  Perhaps you have been meaning to try sailing for ages but have never got round to it.  Well learning to sail is easy and if you are completely new to sailing this is the page for you!

Years ago the Royal Yachting Association (RYA) came up with the RYA Cruising Scheme.  The RYA Cruising Scheme is a set of yachting courses that take you from an absolute beginner to a worldwide sailor.  You can see all the courses and how they link to each other in our Course Progression Plan at RYA Sailing Course Progression Plan.

The best starting point for a beginner is the Competent Crew Course.  This is a 5 day course on a yacht.  You sleep and cook on board and sail each day to a different marina or anchorage.  You will learn how to sail.  You will learn how to handle the sails: how to raise and lower them, how to set them correctly to the wind.  You will learn how to steer.  You will learn tons of nautical jargon and at the end of the course you will end up very much a useful crew member.You need hardly any specialist kit to start sailing.  We provide waterproof clothing.  The only things you need but might not have already are a pair of sailing wellies (approx. £35) and a sleeping bag.  You could get a pair of sailing gloves (approx. £10).

A Competent Crew course can be taken over a Monday to Friday or over 2 weekends (a short and a long).  Typically you arrive the evening before your course starts.  Supper is spent that first evening meeting the instructor and fellow crew mates in the pub.  After that it’s back to the boat for a good start the next morning.  It is highly unlikely you will ever have to share a cabin with someone you don’t know.

Breakfast on board is usually around 8am and consists of croissants, bacon, eggs, cereal, toast etc.  There are lots of things to learn about on the first day: lots of safety stuff like how to operate a lifejacket, how to hoist the sails, how to cast off.  Once all this has been covered and everything is stowed away you cast off for somewhere like charming Beaulieu in the New Forest, sailing mecca Cowes on the Isle of Wight, Lymington and  Portsmouth on the mainland and plenty of other places.  Along the way you’ll learn how to tack, how to gybe, who has right of way over other yachts or ships.  Most days you can expect to pull into a marina or anchorage around late afternoon.  On one day you may go out night sailing.  Trying to pick out flashing navigation buoys against the backdrop of a city like Portsmouth can be quite challenging but a lot of fun.

You’ll practice what to do if someone falls over board.  Don’t worry! – This hardly ever happens on a yacht but it is wise to practice what to do in case it does happen.

Practicing knot tying for sailing

Practicing knot tying

You’ll do lots of steering and you’ll get to have a go at parking the yacht alongside a pontoon.  Learning how to park the boat is covered further in the next level which is the Day Skipper Course.  Often people like to work up to the Day Skipper level as it is this qualification that companies in places like the Mediterranean like you to have before they charter you a yacht.

So why not give it a go?  If you click on this Competent Crew link you can see dates and prices and read more information about the Competent Crew course.

By Charlie Tulloch

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