We’re excited at this time of the year when the sailing season finally gets under way. But it can bring with it that doubting moment, “Can I remember everything from last year?”  We can often think about things in too much detail and worry about the consequences; sailing is no exception.  We just need a little reassurance that it’s all ok and we’re doing fine.  Here are 3 sailing techniques to help you out on the water.

Push your luck

Close-hauled is the hardest point of sailing to get accurate.  Keep the boat flat and on the edge of the wind. To stay close to the wind ‘push your luck’ by gently luffing up; try pointing 5 – 10 degrees closer to the wind.  When tacking close-hauled centralise the tiller early to stay close to the wind.  Use the sails to keep the boat balanced – when the gusts come ease the mainsheet to balance the boat.  Remember to pull the mainsheet in after the gust.  In strong wind conditions sail with the windward tell-tale just lifting (feathering).  Remember the amount of wind (power) in the sails will influence the balance of the boat.
Coach tip – a boat sails faster when it’s flat.

Ease and squeeze

Control the mainsheet using the crab claw system – first pull in a length of mainsheet and use your index finger and thumb on your other hand to grip the mainsheet as a cleat (like a crab claw). Next lean your body into the boat and pull in another big armful of mainsheet. Lean out using the strength of your upper body and relax.  Repeat these steps until you are close-hauled. Remember to look at the mainsheet at the end of the boom to check you are block to block.  
Coach tip – pulling in and easing out the mainsheet in the gusts (ease and squeeze) gives a great feeling of control when sailing close-hauled.

Understanding tell tells

The little pieces of wool on your sail (the tell tales) are your best friends when sailing close-hauled.  Start sailing close-hauled pulling in the mainsheet block to block, hike out and watch the tell tales closely.  If the windward tell-tale lifts you are too close to the wind, bear away gently to fill the sail.  If the leeward (shadow) tell tale lifts or drops, you are off the wind, luff up gently. When the windward and leeward tell tales are flying horizontal it’s all perfect!
Coach tip – if you don’t have tell tells on your sail, buy a set from a chandlery shop.

Check availability

To check availability simply open Melvyn’s calendar and find a convenient day from your diary.  If it’s completely blank on the calendar date you can choose a full day lesson, morning or afternoon. When you are ready, drop us a line at Melvyn Cooper Sailing with your requested date and we will confirm back to you.
We hope to see you soon.

Try a lesson 

To sharpen up your sailing skills why not try a ‘Rust Remover’ lesson or develop a specific techniques lesson. Improving your skills is a great way of building confidence and getting the most out of your time on the water. MCS can teach you how to use tells tales, improve close-hauled techniques, launch a boat correctly and return ashore safely.

New MCS website

The new site is clear and easy to navigate.  You will find a helpful guide to our flexible tuition, the 2015 price list for full and half day lessons, single handed coaching and day boat tuition.  Stay up to date with the latest newsletters and discover highlights of the last few years’ tuition in Gallery.  Useful links to help plan your sailing day such as the Met Office weather forecast, Cambermet and tide times in Chichester Harbour can all be found in Contact.