Safety At Sea – A Sailing Instructor’s Perspective

Published on September 11th, 2017

Mike Rice is an eight time recipient of the American Sailing Association’s Outstanding Instructor honor and has been teaching sailing at his sailing school, Puget Sound Sailing Institute, for over 30-years. Rice is at the top tier of sailing instruction and weighed in with his views on sailing safety.

How much emphasis do you place on the safety element when teaching sailing? Do you approach it in a subtle way or more forcefully?
Our priority has always been that safety is the first issue we discuss – it’s really the most important issue. In my mind, when you’re safe, you are having fun and preparing people well is the key to being safe. And when you get into things like offshore sailing at night where there are harnesses, tethers, jacklines – these kinds of things; safety then becomes an even larger issue.

What, in your mind, is the most important safety tip/concept that you instill in new sailors?
To always be aware – to be conscious about what’s going on all around, especially the wind and the water. We teach students to look at the water to tell us what the wind is doing – to predict gusts, also to be mindful of the boom, how to walk on the boat – things like that. Awareness is crucial to not being caught off guard.

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