Begin the Climb at the Bottom

Published on November 22nd, 2016

Whatever it is we are learning, there is always a progression. When it comes to sailing, once the basics are learned, they are applicable to all forms of sail-driven craft. Paul Newell shares this observation from his keyboard in Isle of Wight, UK…

I started windsurfing when the original Windsurfer was imported into the UK back in the mid-70’s. I’d sailed dinghies and keelboats up to that point, but the Windsurfer taught me that I didn’t truly understand the dynamics of body positioning, weight distribution, rake, trim, etc, etc.

It was a lesson that to climb the mountain of sailing, one must begin at the bottom. I relate this education to the road. Every motorist should be required to ride a motorcycle, on the road, and in traffic, for a year before they are allowed to drive in a car.

The motorcycle would teach what a wet road will do to you at excessive speed, how to avoid loose gravel, why you never drive over manhole covers, not to ride in the gutter, road positioning, and so on. My point is that one would become a much better car driver if one started at the bottom.

The same goes for sailing. The highest level that anyone should start sailing at is a dinghy. That at least gives one the idea about balancing the boat against the pressure the rig imparts on the boat and how to counter it and what happens when you get it wrong.

I see so many people on the water who don’t have even a reasonable grasp of the basics and don’t have a clue as to how to get themselves out of trouble when it happens. And what’s even worse is that they have no idea that they have no idea that trouble is just moments away.

So, some basic training in the foot hills would make everyone a better sailor.


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