Monday, June 21, 2010


LASERS HAVE FUN. Comments on “ Be Your Own Sailing Coach”

A few weeks ago Tillerman had a note about life jackets and a picture of the RNLI crew with all his heavy weather gear and his inflatable life jacket. The note was from the book “Be Your Own Sailing Coach” by Jon Emmett, Copyright 2008. (The is a book written from England with the “kicker” and stuff like that.) Information from the Chapter on Starting was reprinted in the Laser Sailor, Summer 2009.

I have two earlier blog entries, a Long Coach and a Short Coach. I grew up sailing, when there wasn’t any coaches. Well, we had high school kids teaching grade school kids how to sail, and everybody else got in a boat and started learning more.

I got the “be your own coach book” to see if I was missing anything. Some Laser pictures and notes from Paul Goodison. Twenty chapters on things you need to know.

The first chapter is goal setting. Now that is pretty easy for Lasers and most of the rest of us. The goal is having FUN. That is not mentioned in the goal setting section. Nobody is sailing a Laser for a living, unless maybe they are a really good coach. The professional sailors, I bet, started out doing it for fun, and then turned it into money working on big boats.

Occasionaly I see our high school sailing team out sailing in circles and strange little short courses that don’t seem to be related to anything. When I ask, I am told they are just having FUN. We want to keep them happy.

Yes, when I started sailing, I just wanted to get the boat to do what I wanted it too. Have it under control. Sail to someplace and back. Make all the parts work. Take somebody out for a sail. When we first got Lasers and the wind was up, it was just reaching back and forth on that wild unstable ride. We weren’t racing just ripping back and forth.

So what can we do to have FUN when sailing? 1) Sail back and forth. 2) Sail backwards. 3) Turn over and then right the boat. 4) Sail fast. 5) Sail slow. 6) Sail to some place and back. 7) Race a little, like there is another sail boat and see if you can catch and pass them. 8) Join a Yacht Club, Sailing Club or Cruising Club for socializing. 9) Tired of just sailing across the harbor, then try sailing around the world.(I don’t think that will all be fun.)

Avoid too much wind and not enough wind Experience will widen that gap between too much and too little in which you can have FUN.

Maybe you want to sharpen your skills of boat handling. You might want to do some type of racing. That will work better in a one design class, where you can match your boat against one that is very similar. Do the Portsmouth or the PHRF thing, but you may get lost in all the rating questions.

One of the best things about racing is the schedule. You have a time to race and a place to go. You don’t go to the picnic because everyone knows you will be sailing. Then when you get out and sail with other boats you get a feel for what you might be able to do better. Because it is on a time and place situation, you will be sailing in lighter winds and in stronger winds than you would other otherwise. Your world expands.

Maybe you do just a little racing, expand your skills, and then go back to things that seem more fun to you.

Don’t forget. If you get into racing, that the primary goal is having FUN. Not fleet champ or that sort of thing. OK, win all the races, but don’t forget the goal.


So how much money are you going to spend to have fun.. How big is the boat. Where are you going to keep it. How often the haul out and how much does it cost. New Sails? New boat? Trips to regattas if you get into racing. Hire a coach.

So those are the best parts of the book.– Chapter 1 Goal Setting and Chapter 21 Money.

Now you judge of what you want. Spending money and time sailing, against the other things that you could be doing.

Will it “Save Sailing”?

It will, if sailing deserves it!


  1. So, how does a sailor measure fun per unit of currency? Time on the water / time and dollars in shop would be a very crude first approximation, which would suggest that large yachts and finicky racing machines aren't so much fun.

  2. Pat, I had a J24 and shared it with two others, who shared dock rental. I got good used sails. Did the bottom every two years myself. Sailed with a lot of good poeple. A different kind of fun than the Laser racing or the Sunfish racing that I have done. Yes, I think it cost more, a little. But we did stuff you couldn't do on a Laser.

  3. One more way to make sailing fun: Sail to a nearby DESTINATION. Have a fleet or inter-fleet cruise to a nearby waterfront park. Beach or moor. Have a picnic. Play games. Sail back. Racers can race. Cruisers can cruise. The point of the day is the picnic and the group, and (trust me) the memories. Sailing is the binder.