Virtual Training Session 5 – ‘Rules of the Road & Capsizing’

Here’s a recording of what happened in the fifth Virtual Training session:

There are lots of sailing rules (there’s a book full of them, and more books to explain them!) but there are some that you need to learn first, which we will talk about here, and others that you only need to know if you are racing.

One thing to remember about sailing rules is that they apply in a specific order with the later ones only applying if the earlier ones don’t have any effect. Here are the important rules (The numbers are just to help talking about them – the rule book itself has different numbering):

  1. Don’t hit anyone The most important rule of all! If you are not sure what’s going on then avoiding hitting each other is the top priority. None of the below rules give you any excuse for hitting anyone!
  2. Power boats give way to sail – Not a big issue on the Tarn as the Safety boat will always be keeping out of your way (unless you need help, of course).
  3. Port (left) tack gives way to Starboard (right) tack – The ‘tack’ is the direction you are sailing in compared to the wind direction (remember that we talked about always being aware of the wind direction in the session before last?). You are on a starboard tack if the wind is coming over the right of your boat so an easier way to remember this rule is ‘If you are sat on the right of the boat you have right of way (over someone sat on the left)’.
  4. Windward’ boats give way to ‘Leeward’ boats if they are on the same ‘tack’ (If they are on different tacks then rule 3 applies and we don’t get as far as this one). A ‘Windward’ boat is one that is further towards the wind than another boat (or is ‘upwind’) – The boat that the wind hits first is the windward boat. The reason for this rule is that the Windward boat will always have wind in it’s sails so has good control, but the Leeward boat (It’s pronounced “Loord”, by the way) may be sheltered from the wind by the Windward boat so it could be difficult to control (especially important if it needs to avoid something further downwind).
  5. Overtaking Boats keep clear – This is just good sense as, if you are coming up behind someone, they might not be able to see you, so just keep out of their way. You will always be on the same tack (so 3 doesn’t apply) but you will become either the Leeward or Windward boat, so rule 4 will start to apply once you have started to actually overtake the other boat.

So, rule 1 is easy, rule 2 is not usually important when learning to dinghy sail, and rule 5 is just politeness – This just leaves you 2 other rules to remember – And you do need to remember them as you will use them lots!

Remember, if all else fails, make sure you don’t hit anyone 😊.

Once you get to grips with the basics of sailing you might want to think about trying a bit of racing (which is by far the best way to improve your skills) – When you get to this there are more rules to learn, but you’ll pick them all up step by step as part of the next stages of training. It’s pretty safe to say that fairly few sailors understand all the rules perfectly and there are always plenty of discussions going on about which rule applies in which circumstances!

Back to Session 4

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