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Old 23-01-2015, 21:08   #1
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Learn to sail on a dingy? What about a sailboard...?

My own experience. Started my sailing life 40+ years ago on a dingy. A 13' Chrysler LS13. Had a ball and learned a lot. Transitioned to a series of sailboards (windsurfers) and have to say that I learned way more about being in tune with the wind and sail trim and adapting to conditions than I ever experienced on the dingy.
I have noticed a recurring theme on here when advising noobs to buy a dingy to learn to sail. Can't disagree.
But does anyone else share a similar experience with learning to sail or honing skills on a windsurfer?
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Old 24-01-2015, 07:36   #2
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Re: Learn to sail on a dingy? What about a sailboard...?

Me too. Many years on a Windsurfer and then to a 33 Keelboat. You learn a lot of about the forces of the wind by having direct contact with the sail. It's fun to do the same on a keelboat when is light. Stand on the cabin top and grab hold of the boom.
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Old 24-01-2015, 08:11   #3
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Re: Learn to sail on a dingy? What about a sailboard...?

I would say that when windsurfing... it took 95% of being in tune with holding my cocktail... And left very little input for even keeping my cigarette dry...
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Old 24-01-2015, 08:35   #4
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Re: Learn to sail on a dingy? What about a sailboard...?

I find teaching people to windsurf from scratch is a pain. When windsurfing was popular we had people join our club to only windsurf and sail nothing else, so I would teach some of those classes. The steering stick and the trimming stick being the same is not good. Being able to trim 360 degrees is not good. The wider boards today have helped a lot, but they still have to learn balance at the same time. Back in the narrow board days I remember many classes had one or two people still learning to stand on the board the 3rd, 4th or 5th classes, and so hadn't ever gotten to steering or trimming. We're in a small bay with usually no waves and light airs.

Now mostly I teach classes where I ask that they have taken a basic dinghy sailing course first. Much more stable boat, steering and trim separate tasks, they have a general idea of where the sail is supposed to be, makes learning to windsurf a much easier task.

So, yeah if they learn to dinghy sail and windsurf, I think it's a great idea.
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Old 24-01-2015, 08:41   #5
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Re: Learn to sail on a dingy? What about a sailboard...?

My problem with learning a windsurfer first is the the wind is almost always in front of the beam......leads to chronic over sheeting on a keelboat.


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Old 24-01-2015, 08:49   #6
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Re: Learn to sail on a dingy? What about a sailboard...?

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Originally Posted by Sailmonkey View Post
My problem with learning a windsurfer first is the the wind is almost always in front of the beam......leads to chronic over sheeting on a keelboat.


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Need to differentiate between the 2 separate sports called windsurfing, big full size boards quite often used in light air, and short boarding. Our club is in a long board venue, so sail trim is more comparable.

Boy, the years I spent doing the 4 hour drive to the Gorge to shortboard was a lot of fun, makes me tired to think of it now.
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Old 24-01-2015, 09:02   #7
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Re: Learn to sail on a dingy? What about a sailboard...?

I like dinghy sailing too. It can be fun, challenging, and wet.

Years ago I bought a windsurfer and sailed it on lakes in the summer. I have also windsurfed in Hawaii in one of the best locations.

My experience with it taught me that it was NOT as much fun when there is no or little wind which was typical on these smaller inland lakes. When the wind died down while out on the lake, it became boring to sit there with nothing to do. If I had a different kind of sail boat I could have enjoyed a nap, read a book, fixed something to eat, etc.

Secondly, it was NOT as much fun, because I could not take a date out on it.

And, there was no way to stay dry. It was a wet ride. While that is fun in some water (warm) it is not as much fun in colder waters or other times of the year. I had a wetsuit, but still not fun sitting in cold water doing nothing.

So, if I were advising someone (and they are usually a couple) who wants to own a big boat someday, to BUY a small boat on which to learn to sail, I would NOT recommend a windsurfer or a laser (i.e. one person wet boat) as the best choice for a first boat.

Instead, I would suggest a boat that allows a couple to sail together, comfortably seated, and they can stay dry, and even take a picnic lunch with them.

This can also happen on a small boat (16 foot or so) if it is designed for comfortable day sails. A little bit larger and it could have a cuddy cabin with a portapotty and a little bit of privacy (something most women appreciate).

These aspects of "comfort" also are there to counter one of the most common complaints from beginner sailors who don't continue: "I was uncomfortable while sailing."

And, I think a small boat that has a foresail is a good thing too, if one aspires to a bigger boat.

YMMV
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Old 24-01-2015, 09:47   #8
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Re: Learn to sail on a dingy? What about a sailboard...?

I actually learned the basics of sail handling by body sailing on Ice. When I was a kid I couldn't wait for winter to go sailing on my Ice skates, Using a handheld sail. The speed you can reach with a sail on Ice is extremely exciting. Mac
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Old 24-01-2015, 10:00   #9
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Re: Learn to sail on a dingy? What about a sailboard...?

I learned to sail a long time ago on dingies and enjoyed racing them. However, I kept getting passed by windsurfers, who were ridiculously fast when planing.

So I learned to windsurf. After 3 years, I was able to plane and jibe consistently. While a great adrenaline rush, I can't say that I brought much back to dingy racing from windsurfing, and even less to racing keel boats years later.

The whole-body balance (everything from toes up through the entire body) and muscle memory necessary for planing on a windsurfer was simply not needed on a boat.

That said, windsurfing is a really fun sport and I recommend it to anyone who has the patience to learn it. You need a tolerance for continuous bruising on the waters, especially when learning in waves.
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Old 25-01-2015, 09:49   #10
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Re: Learn to sail on a dingy? What about a sailboard...?

In my humble opinion based on 60+yrs of sailing starting at age 6 was Dyer dinghy and Sunfish....you become highly sensitized to the nuances of wind and the sounds of passing through/over water. You can literally learn to sail with your eyes closed after a while and let all your senses feel what is taking place and your ability to react and take advantage without benefit of modern technology. Windsurfing as a novice/beginner adds too much on your plate to get anywhere especially upwind.
I think most if not all of the world class sailors of yesteryear as well as today all started on dinks
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Old 25-01-2015, 10:18   #11
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Re: Learn to sail on a dingy? What about a sailboard...?

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Originally Posted by cal40john View Post
I find teaching people to windsurf from scratch is a pain.
I first learned to sail in highschool, on an Albacore, but my early adulthood was spent windsurfing. I wasn't ever really great at it, didn't quite make it to shortboards, but I did have alot of fun. Still do, occasionally.

I got certified and taught LTW (Learn to Windsurf) for a few years. We had fat boards, which just about everyone could balance on, and a great senior instructor gave us some methods that had people doing basic control almost immediately. So, it was not too painful and quite gratifying to see most beginners 'getting' it.

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So, yeah if they learn to dinghy sail and windsurf, I think it's a great idea.
Dinghy or windsurfer, you learn SAILING. You're much more aware of the wind. It certainly hooked me. I know many can start out on a keelboat and become talented sailors, but I also see many for whom 'sailing' is just aim the boat, trim, cleat the sheets and set the autopilot.

As Steady Hand mentioned, one of the reasons we got a boat was that my wife wasn't going to become a windsurfer. Also, windsurfers are lousy for overnighting.
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Old 25-01-2015, 12:16   #12
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Re: Learn to sail on a dingy? What about a sailboard...?

IMHO a windsurfer, a kite, a surferboard are all great introduction to sailing. People who windsurf, kite or surf easily become very good sailors as they understand (or better put 'feel') the way the wind and the waves act on their "boats".

I think the worst way to learn sailing is in a very stable, very slow craft that has excessive engine power available at the press of a button. Unfortunately, this is where many cruisers start, and stay.

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Old 25-01-2015, 15:26   #13
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Re: Learn to sail on a dingy? What about a sailboard...?

Everything everyone is saying is making me feel good that my first boat is a 16' O'Day DaySailer. Looking forward to spring when I can put all my winter reading to test.
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Old 25-01-2015, 15:39   #14
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Re: Learn to sail on a dingy? What about a sailboard...?

I was a teenager when windsurfers came out and my dad bought one to add to the small flotilla of other small sailboats that he collected. We lived on the water and I ended up sailing it a LOT for a couple of years. It was big and heavy but it was a blast. I definitely think that it gives you a more visceral sense of how the forces involved in sailing fit together since your body acts as the rudder, backstay, and sheet. I remember being particularly impressed at how apparent it made apparent wind. You'd get hit by a gust, accelerate, and head up, planing like a banshee. It was awesome.

I don't think it's a great boat to teach someone to sail on given specific physical challenges it presents.
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Old 25-01-2015, 22:08   #15
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Re: Learn to sail on a dingy? What about a sailboard...?

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Originally Posted by barnakiel View Post
IMHO a windsurfer, a kite, a surferboard are all great introduction to sailing. People who windsurf, kite or surf easily become very good sailors as they understand (or better put 'feel') the way the wind and the waves act on their "boats".
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Thanks barnakiel. That was my point exactly...
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