More Fun, more Participation revisited again
What are some positive ways to move forward for the sailing dinghy scene?
Here in NZ, the sailing clubs are putting their thinking caps on to find a way to get people back into clubs. The racing classes seem to have fragmented the sailing population, young and old, as people have to choose between buying expensive equipment or moving to a different club, or giving up altogether. All of which stalls the participation in the club scene.
I got so much out of sailing dinghies in a club as a junior, youth, and still do as a senior. We used to hold regional mixed class regattas, both at club sailing and for regional regattas. They were popular because they were so much fun. And the best thing about it was you could turn up with whatever boat you had. Fathers and mothers sailed as well as the children. The young sailors saw a variety of classes they could progress to and everyone benefited from the social interaction.
We just got on the water and raced. We raced our boats around islands, stakes, reefs, and markers using either Mark Foy starts or handicapping. By having regattas away from the main sailing centres, people got to travel, which appealed to many. Local economies benefited from these regattas as people stayed overnight. For example, a regatta was held on Lake Rotorua, in the North Island, a town which is very geared towards tourism. Such towns may be even more appreciative now that much travel and tourism has been halted. Is this an opportunity?
There was also less emphasis on high performance, and more emphasis the grass roots. I remember an amazing sailor who was past his heyday teaching us how to use a spinnaker well. He gave up his time for us as it was his passion. Whether anyone reached Olympic level or not, we learnt how to start and race in fleets. We would not have got those skill levels had we not travelled to regional regattas. And for those that didn't reach Olympic level they had great fun, and stored great memories. This will always help the sport in the long term.
So for the clubs, parents, sailing class associations and sponsors out there, perhaps it is time to bring back some of the old ways: more participation, broader experiences, more fun and less emphasis on competition?
Stay safe and have fun on the water
#tiwal #sailing #learntosail
What makes you feel alive?
As we head into winter months it can be easy to stay on the couch instead of pushing ourselves and our bodies to new limits.
Now more than ever I appreciate the benefits of getting outdoors or going sailing during winter, as I sit here in lockdown, unable to go sailing.
When you are challenged by something, (for sailors it could be a new boat, strong winds, big waves, or a long race, etc); every anxious thought or pent up frustration is suddenly directed towards manoeuvring and handling a boat planing along the water, trying to keep the boat upright and travelling fast.
Or perhaps the surprise of finding a long day of winter sunshine which you can appreciate from a boat in the middle of a harbour or lake.
I have learnt more about a healthy body as I focus on wellness and I have learnt how important Vitamin D, Iodine, Zinc, Vitamins A and C are in keeping the body functioning.
I remember the fantastic feeling I had after being on the water all weekend for a regatta (I had an office job at the time); and I put it down to the Vitamin D. Are we solar-powered, or what?
And the feeling a short sail can give you - an aerobic workout: the core and leg muscles are working constantly to balance yourself as you work to balance the boat. The muscles of the hands and arms work as you work the sail and the ropes, and control the steering.
How are you coping with your lockdown? What attitude will you take forward from this experience? How will you think about the winter ahead as we gaze outside at this beautiful weather?
I will be more grateful for the freedom to get out on the water, no matter what the weather conditions or circumstances.
What about you? How will you maintain your love of life?
At this time of year I usually teach sailing at Buckland Beach Yacht Club, and for Sailability Auckland, a great programme designed for people with disabilities. My background is in Olympic sailing, and I still compete every year at the Womens' National Keelboat Champs.
I have enjoyed some time off the water to get fitter and to put together learn to sail videos for you. I am passionate about getting people on the water and enjoying this amazing sport.
If you want to take up a new challenge but you need a little inspiration and confidence to get on your sailing journey, please get in touch!
Videos: Learn to Sail: Steering and Learn to Sail: Wind Direction
For your personal demonstration of a TIWAL or to find a dealer near you please get in touch here.
And finally here are a few ideas to inspire you to get on the water!
Check out last year's TIWAL Cup in France
⛵️ Try Virtual Skipper or Virtual Regatta - a virtual programme where you can sail and race around the world!
And just for fun…
Some footage of 18 footers sailing in my favourite place in the world to sail …. Lake Garda, Italy…. https://youtu.be/mqNt7ajZtto
AND some footage of Sail GP in Sydney https://youtu.be/gbuoQHUc-Jk
Have fun, stay safe and see you on the water soon.
ARE YOU TEACHING YOUR CHILD TO SAIL?
As a sailing coach for children I come across low water confidence in kids all the time. Often, I have to go right back to basic water confidence. I don't want these kids to become an Olympic sailor like I was, I just want them to have the opportunity to see the ocean as their playground; a place where they can explore, think expansively, grow from challenges, support others, learn how to relax, get strong, get better balance and get fit.
Some fun ways to do this?
- Games with boats upside down, jumping off boats, jumping from boat to boat
- Standing up on or walking around the edge of boats, making the boat rock around, swimming under a boat.
- Towing the boat behind another dinghy - get kids to get used to the balance and then stand up and balance
- Sailing in pairs can give a less confident child a way onto a boat with more support or fun.
- Sailing with an adult can accelerate a child's confidence and learning
The most important thing with teaching someone to sail is that the process is a gentle one. The kids will pick up confidence and concepts at their own pace according to their level of water confidence and coordination. It is very hard to get a child back onto a boat after a bad experience!
Make sure before you put your child in a boat, that he/she can right the boat by themselves after a capsize and they can get back in.
In a TIWAL Inflatable sailing dinghy, getting back onto the boat after a capsize is easy! And the great thing about the TIWAL.... it does not not fill up with water, eliminating yet another opportunity for panic.
If a child has lost confidence or got frustrated learning in an Opti, I often put them on the TIWAL with a friend and they are soon enjoying things again. It works a treat!
If you would like more tips on learning to sail please join my newsletter on
I sent a TIWAL 3 to my new customer, Joachim, on the Wednesday and he was sailing in Melbourne on the Saturday. His text: 'I took it out straight away - it is nothing short of amazing!! Very happy with it'.
Here, in NZ, we have been busy inventing a new 'skin' for the TIWAL 3 turning the boat into a splash free dinghy complete with a mount for an outboard. We tested a Torqeedo electric outboard which was fantastic, and we also looked into the technology behind dropstitch - read on for more info!
Would you like to try a TIWAL? Please give me a call and we will arrange it!
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I hope you are having a great summer.
Im a competitive sailor and a coach of people with disabilities, a kids' learn to sail coach, and a race coach. I spend a lot of time doing and thinking about sailing and being on the water.
Sailors or boaties like me are often labelled for life - we have caught 'the sailing bug', we are the 'old salts', the old sea dogs, and the ocean addicts.
But the truth is you don't need to be an 'old salt' or even a 'new salt' to be a sailor. In fact you only need a couple of hours out of your time every now and then to enjoy the calmness of going back to nature, back to basics, to float on the sea, river or lake.
You don't need a road map for sailing, nor do you need all the jargon. You need to know how to read a weather forecast, to read the tide timetable and to know what your wind limit is.
You can learn sailing, have fun on the water and find secluded places inaccessible to land lovers. All great for the mind, soul and body.
Yes, there are skills to learn. But if you pick the right sailing conditions and the right boat to learn on, with a bit of effort and guidance you will be sailing!
The TIWAL is a great boat to learn on, and have fun on, and visit places on!
Do you want to be in Auckland during the Americas Cup in 2021?Here is a video of the course areas. I hope to provide more insights as we go on.
The organising yacht club is the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron, Westhaven Marina, and most viewing boats will be leaving from Westhaven or the Viaduct, located on the south side of the Harbour Bridge.
For easy access to Westhaven Marina and the Viaduct choose accommodation around the Viaduct, Wynyard Quarter, St Marys Bay, Freemans Bay or Ponsonby. Devonport (North Shore) is one of the prime onshore viewing spots for courses B and C and there are regular ferries to the city from here.
Course E is near Waiheke Island - a wine drinkers paradise, and only a 40minute ferry ride from Auckland!!!
Some dates for your diary:
TBC. AC Challenger Series
25th-27th February, 2021 Superyacht Regatta, Auckland
28th February 2021 Dinghy Bridge to Bean Race (including TIWAL) Auckland
FEB/March TBC TIWAL Cup Auckland
1st - 6th March, 2021 J Class Yacht Fleet, Auckland
6th/7th March, 2021 - the Americas Cup starts
21st March, 2021 - Americas Cup finishes
Sometimes the quickest way to learn how to make a boat sail is to follow an experienced sailor around a racecourse.
Sailing in and amongst a fleet of boats who are looking out for your safety is also going to add a whole lot more fun to your day.
You will find local yacht clubs are very inclusive of all types of boats joining their weekend racing. The club volunteers and the club organisers make the whole experience amazing - there are so many passionate people around you. You are entering a whole new community of people who have one thing in common - they love being in, on and around the water. There are always stories to share at the end of the day whether it is battling the elements, navigating your way around a course or weaving in and out of other boats.
This is what sailing is about. It is about feeling alive and being involved in a huge community of people who want to share the feeling with you.
Go to www.tiwal.nz to get started on your sailing journey.
Learn to Sail Part 2.
Have you have decided to give sailing a go?
Firstly, you need a little understanding of the wind, the sail and the parts of the boat which are underwater.
You need to know where the wind is coming from. The first reason you need to know, is so you can turn the boat into the wind when you are setting up the boat.. or when you are launching the boat into the water.
If you turn the boat away from the wind the sail will fill with wind and the boat will try and jump around and make it very hard to push into the water without it falling over!
Now lets get onto the water.
Your sail is your engine - so looking at your sail is important (as well as looking where you are going!).
When you are on the water you need to know where the wind is coming from because when you point the boat into the wind you won’t move anywhere - the sail will just flap.
Wind direction awareness is also needed so you can stop the boat on the water whenever you like - just turn the boat into the wind and let the sail flap.
If you want to move forward you need a curve in the sail. This creates power.
You need to point the front of the boat away from the wind and pull the sail in just enough so there is a nice curve (and no flapping).
Perhaps you have turned away so far from the wind that the wind is now directly behind you? Now you need to let the sail out enough to catch the wind. A good rhyme to remember is ‘if in doubt, let it out’ (the sail, I mean).
But if it flaps, pull it in!
So where do you sit? You and the wind will work together to balance the boat. If the boat is tipping to one side you need to move to balance the boat and make it flat again.
This means you will usually sit opposite the sail - to balance the wind pushing against the sail on the other side. When the sail changes sides so will you (this is called a tack or gybe).
You also need to know what is happening under the boat (underwater) that is helping you move and turn.
Your rudder turns the boat - but this will only work if you have water flowing over it - you need to be moving to turn the boat.
Your centreboard (the board in the centre of the boat) helps you sail towards the wind. So it is important to have this all the way down into the water - otherwise you will slip sideways.
So, now you know where the wind is coming from, that you need to look at and adjust your sail, and you know what is helping the boat move and turn underwater.
Stay tuned for more tips!
I am a New Zealand sailor who learned to sail in the beautiful Malborough Sounds and then went onto represent NZ at the 2000 Olympics.