Choices in my club on any given day

We sail in a public park with quite a bit of traffic, attracting regular spectators as well as regular groupies. Chris-the-6-year-old-grandson stops by on a regularly with his grandpa and politely asks to sail our boats. He ain’t a bad sailor! Yesterday he sailed my Star 45, and we had a steady 12-15 knot breeze, making the Star a pretty good handful.

In general, we’ll hand a radio to anybody who asks, or in certain cases, make rude bawk bawk chicken noises until we beat 'em into trying. Sometimes it takes a little bullying - witness the heavily-interested guy who was afraid to take the sticks for fear of ‘crashing’ or embarasssment. In that case, I put the radio on the ground, saying ‘steer with the right stick’ or something…and walk away :slight_smile: I’m a bully.

What we’ve seen is that everybody loves the EC12, but they’re taken aback either by the price or the build. We’ll then push for a kit, and even then, the build can be intimidating. THEN we head for the Laser. Sailing one is a lot different than sailing an EC12 or Fairwind, but the attractiveness of no-build-whatsoever tends to sway them.

There is nothing - absolutely nothing - half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats. Kenneth Graeme, Wind in the Willows.

There are a number of reasonably inexpensive “arf” boats currently in the marketplace. Two quick examples, the Nirvana from Megatech can be purchased for under $175 (including a radio). Its from the same designer as the R/C Laser. The Victoria kit is less than $100 and there are packages out there where you can buy the boat with a radio for less than $200. Additionally, I also believe Kyosho has a low price boat out there and some of the Victor kits can be had also around the $200 mark.

Hmmmmmmm…maybe the issue is the EC12 itself. They’re attractive and easy to sail, but yeah - money issues will stop newbies cold. So then, they look at the smaller boats. We DO have a few Fairwinds sailing and competing around the marks on a regular basis.

The ARF industry has really taken off (get it? a little plane reference there), especially since the quality of the planes has improved. Honestly, ARF’s don’t interest me in the least, since I like building almost as much as the action.

It’s a weird social phenomenon, in my opinion. As America has evolved into a nation of consumers and instant-joy addicts, companies have sprung up to meet the need and more power to them! But sailing isn’t an instant-joy activity! As opposed to watching a plane take off and corkscrew into the ground in a mass of expensive pieces, the skills involved in tuning a boat to go as fast as possible require observation and patience - two skills that are lacking in lots and lots of people these days.

Our club tends to be divided up on 3 lines - the purely-social guys, the builders and the sailors. The purely-social group is to be avoided like the plague on the water - you never know what they’re going to do if you’re in close quarters. The builders tend to exclude the other two groups just cuz of the technical aspects of conversation - sailors don’t give a crap about the nuances of different epoxies. The sailors are the group that has the most fun, but tend to get frustrated when a horribly mistuned boat sails by. I’m not talking about a baggy sail - I’m talking about a locked-up jib (jib-twitcher casualty) or a guy who won’t touch the winch stick because “the sail’s set for this angle”…

Once we attract somebody, no matter what boat they decide on, it’s up to them to decide what they’re going to do once in the water - and that’s a tough call.

There is nothing - absolutely nothing - half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats. Kenneth Graeme, Wind in the Willows.

what I did to start intrest in rc sailing in my area was simply to bring my 2 boats out. one and IOM that I drove and my aussieII from victor. the aussie II is a simply boat the sails right off the table. there is not much somebody needs to do to make the boat go. when i see some watching me sail. i wlak over and talk to them. they ask where is the motor and I tell them there is no motor , just the wind and hand them the transmitter. then i go and play with my IOM, i have gotten a 6 yr old into sailing and his father. there are 2 elderly ppl who live close by and they now sail every afternoon. this is not a compitive group just ppl who did not know how to get a boat in the water.
I always carry around broucher and sale flyers. just talking to ppl and letting them sail will get them out. i would not suggest the seawind for a beginner. i like the victor boats. just my preference but they go together well they are cheap and VERY easy to sail

i wouldnt recommend a victor[:-censored]…i prefer a SEAWIND

if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it!

Hey Rob (good to see you),

Let’s not confuse sailing with racing here… Most people can sail adequately enough. They can get their boat from one side of the pond to the other. Many can even go upwind pretty well with little or no training.

With a few tips and some diagrams from experienced sailors, most people will get the concept of sailing upwind versus reaching versus downwind and have a pretty good idea of how to basically trim their sails for each. They will be able to determine which way the wind is coming from and will be able to get their boat to go pretty close to the direction that they want it to go.

But as you and I both know, there is a lot of difference between this basic level of sailing ability and the sailing skills that are need to be a competitive racer. Boat tuning comes into play as does a more refined eye for wind shifts and sail trim. You need to learn the rules and tactics and understand how things are going to play out once the clock starts.

Those are not skills that the average joe will simply learn through osmosis in a few weekends on the water. If we want to foster this level of skill in all the sailors on the pond, then we need to be willing to teach them. What I am talking about here is sailing school. Between the junior program on the lake where I grew up (Pewaukee - home of the Harken brothers) and collegiate sailing, I had 12 years of formal schooling with on the water coaches and instructors teaching me very refined sailing skills. These programs were both 4 day a week programs plus racing on the weekends.

you would think that after my senior year in college, I would have learned all there was to learn, but I had not. After college, I started sailing offshore racers and had to learn a whole new set of sailing skills that revolved around target boatspeeds and computerized performance assessments that are commonplace in grand prix keelboat racing. And while I had no formal training in this, I did have some incredible mentors that taught me how to use this form of data. I learned how to feel the boat with my brain instead of my butt.

So, I think it is important to offer this level of instruction to those that we have managed to lure into our sport. If you look at the sport of RC flying, there are flight schools associated with flying clubs all over the place that offer newcomers a chance to learn this very challenging skill. We should be willing to do the same at our sailing clubs. If you have regularly scheduled races (say they start at noon), then maybe sailing school could be scheduled to start at 10. This would give you a couple of hours to teach the new guys before the experienced guys get there. It would be easy to cover in fair detail some subject in that time. Each week it could be different. Sail tuning one week, reading the puffs the next week, starting tactics the next, etc. Different guys fgrom the club could teach each lesson. The lessons could include chalk talks with a whiteboard (or a chalkboard) where appropriate. The full sized clubs offer this to new sailors - adults and kids alike. We should too.

Along those lines, the clubs where I have taught sailing school owned several boats for that purpose. In some cases, the newcomers could rent the boats from the club for a season, but in most cases, the sailing school was offered for a tuition fee. That fee helped to pay for the boats. In many cases the boats were donated to the club by their previous owners.

I think most clubs should consider investing in a small fleet of club boats. A fairly inexpensive boat like the Fairwind or the Victoria would make a great club boat. I’m sure that many guys would be willing to donate older boats, sails, transmitters, etc. If the club exists as a non profit entity, then such donations are actually tax deductable. Imagine actually getting a tax writeoff for your old boat when you decided that it was time to upgrade…

In short I think that RC sailing is a great way to get involved with sailing and we should endeavor to take full advantage of it by teaching the newcomers to our sport the same way that the full sized sailors do.

  • Will

Will Gorgen

you are right on with you assessment. i have been trying to get my old club to do the same thing. we get together and purcahse 7 or 8 americas 3. from victor. and each sailor brings home the kit. build it and bring it to the pond with him. (with his regular boat) and if anybody want to drive one. that person would just put the boat into the water and sail along side them for about 10 minutes. then the people could get a taste of it.
but the club would not even consider it. so i started my own club. sailing here is looked down upon. but i aim to change that. and that is how i will do it.
just bring out my 3 boats. my wife drive my old IOM. and i am building a IACC20 boat. and the beginner boat will be my new IOM boat
the other members (all 5 of us.) has said the same thing