Yacht Racing for Beginners

Starting yacht racing is a thrilling adventure, however also a possibly daunting experience. Yacht racing is a popular sport at clubs all across the UK coastline. There are many things to consider before getting started in your very first race, such as learning the rules, communicating effectively, practice yachting and choose the right event.

Learn the rules 

When it comes to learning the rules for yacht racing, there are no specific training routes, in the same way there are for dinghies, so it's important to be resourceful. The RYA, however, does offer both practical and theory courses that can help beginners become capable skippers. Learning the basic rules of racing will help you feel more confident when the big day arrives to get out onto the water. 

General rules that sailors should keep in mind include:

  • Once you have completed the race, steer clear of the course
  • Be a good sportsman 
  • Avoid collisions 
  • Keep away from moored/stationary yachts 
  • When a right-of-way boat decides to change course, this boat must give the other boat enough room to keep clear to begin with

Practice yachting 

Before you even considering racing, it may be wise to first practice yachting outside of a competition. Racing will help to boost your confidence and skills in a crew, however, spending time on a boat outside of this will help with handling the vessel and learning practical skills. Aim to get out in a range of wind strengths and conditions, going through various race course scenarios which will put you at ease and provide you with confidence in your ability. 

Practising helming your boat will improve your skill, however having effective insurance that can cover yourself and boat  is equally important . GJW Direct offers comprehensive insurance for yachts and sailing boats, covering for legal expenses, medical expenses and so much more. As with all insurance policies it is important to read the policy wording to find out exactly what you are covered for.

Choosing an event 

Choosing the right event for you, is the best approach to an enjoyable racing experience. Depending on your ability, whether that be a novice or professional, you should choose an event to reflect this. Races can be relaxed at small, friendly clubs or more intense with longer and larger courses, research into this before applying. Take a look at your local sailing club’s website to see what events are happening near you. 

Communicating with the crew 

Having a loyal and strong team onboard is one way to succeed in a yacht race and communication will be at the heart of this. It's possible to find a good crew just by being present and talking to people at your club. Communication can help to create a positive environment for everyone involved, this will ensure people feel more supported and have as much fun on the water, whilst also working towards the same goal. It's important to remember that no matter how prepared you and your team are, mistakes even happen to the most experienced of sailors. So it's a good idea to stay as calm as possible and motivate others with timely reviews. 

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