Starting the sailing season with confidence gives you the chance to consolidate your sailing skills and techniques. It’s sometimes the simple boat handling skills that get overlooked.
Launching and returning ashore safely can make all the difference to a sailing day. It’s a great confidence boast when the start and finish of a sailing day finishes on a high.
Try these two essential sailing skills tips next time you get on the water.

Teamwork launch

Launching off the beach or slipway can be a tricky moment for all of us, especially when people are watching.

So how can we launch smoothly and start the day confidently? A tried and tested method for launching with a little practice works wonders. Whether it’s an onshore or offshore wind direction, a plan with co-ordinated teamwork and timing is all you need to get away first time.

Try this – Launch your boat head to wind. Pull the boat into shallow water (top tip).Crew holds the windward shroud. Helm loosens the butterfly nut on the rubber blade and then gets in the boat. Crew pushes the bow out and waits for it to swing away from the wind. Crew gets in over the side and pulls down the centre-board. Helm calmly pulls the rudder down when in deep water.
What a wonderful moment!
With a little know how and experience this skill is as easy as riding a bike. It could be the start of a good day full of happy memories.

Returning ashore  

The beach or slipway is looming up and it’s busy with boats and there’s no space. Familiar picture? Don’t panic, help is at hand. Preparation, positioning and approach is essential to a calm and controlled landing.

Try this – Look ahead at the shore and have a plan. Pick a quiet space away from the crowd. Position the boat in advance and approach the shore slowly by letting your sails flap completely. Pull the centre-board (or dagger-board) up half way and release the rudder down-haul. When you are close to the shore, turn the boat gently towards the wind (but not head to wind). Finally jump out on the windward side and hold the bow head to wind.