There are few sports like sailing; it can be a gentle relaxing activity where the only noise is the wind in the sails and the water lapping against the hull; or it can be a fast active sport where a gust of wind will catch in the sail driving you forward with an acceleration which you wouldn’t have thought possible.

Sailing is easy to get into as the basics can be mastered within a few hours, however, it will always offer a challenge which you will never tire of. Controlling the wind demands constant attention as it continuously changes direction and force; this makes sailing not just a thrilling activity but a skilful one as well.

Dingy sailing is an activity with a wide appeal; different designs of dingy allow sailors who are interested in all action thrills and spills to take part in the same sport as those wanting take a more leisurely cruise. In recent years this exciting sport has continued to develop with a range of new dinghies to sail, when combined with the range of established dinghies available often at very reasonable cost, dingy sailing really has become a sport for everyone.

The Boats
There are well with over a hundred designs now available; these can generally be split into the two following groupings:

These are fast planning (boat rises out of the water at speed) boats which for the most part are sailed by two person and have a large asymmetric kite (sail at front is flown from a pole attached to the front of the boat). Examples include the two person 49er, RS800, Laser 4000 and the single person RS700. As these tend to be the newer designs, they are the most expensive and are probably more suited to the committed enthusiast with some experience.

Traditional Classes
This covers a wide range of boats which tend for the most part to be slightly heavier than skiffs and so less likely to plane. They can still be great fun to sail and in some cases can be just as quick. Examples include the fast two person 505; the ever popular Laser; the Enterprise; and the well behaved Mirror.

It is often thought that sailing is an expensive sport because of the cost of the boats; whilst this can be true there is a thriving second hand market where good boats can generally be purchased from £500 upwards. Because the second hand market is so good its often possible to sell a boat at nearly the same price you paid for it so the overall cost can be reasonable.

When buying a boat it is important to think about your sailing ability, fitness, and willingness to spend time righting the boat after a capsized. Generally the faster the boat the more fun to sail; however, the price for this will be a lot of time in the water when it capsizes. Most people will start with the slower boats and move on when they find the boat isn’t providing sufficient challenge.

The Clubs
The sport has been built on 100’s of well established clubs providing excellent facilities; these will range in size from small friendly clubs through to much larger clubs with a more comprehensive sailing program. Most people who sail will join a club; they do this for many reasons but the primary ones are: convenient storage of boats; rescue cover when sailing; meeting other sailors; changing facilities and organised racing.

When looking for a club it is a good idea to visit all the clubs within your area to see which best fits your requirements. If you only intend to sail infrequently you might want a club that will store your boat and doesn’t cost too much; if on the other hand you intend sailing regularly you might want a club with large turnouts for races and with a number of boats the same as yours.

Wales has a number of clubs throughout the country sailing on lakes and the sea; chances are that there will be a club within easy driving distance of your home. Joining a club will usually cost from £50 to £200 a year and almost no club now has a waiting list.

Learning to Sail
Learning to sail can be done through clubs or commercial sailing schools offering Royal yachting association (RYA) approved courses. Alternatively, of increasing popularity are courses offered as holiday packages in countries such as Spain or Greece where learning to sail can be combined with a holiday.

My thanks to Nic Mountford for the Introduction to sailing.
Nic is from the Corus Sailing club

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