Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Learning How To Sail

Some of Hudson River Community Sailing's fleet of J/24s
One of my most popular blog posts, and by popular I mean one that has received more hits than usual, was 45 Reasons To Learn How To Sail, posted over a year ago, on March 5, 2009. The post was picked up by a sailing blog, which linked to it, generating many hits.

I recently took my own words to heart. Last month my wife Vicki and I enrolled in a sailing course. To be more specific, we took the US Sailing  Basic Keelboat Course  offered by Hudson River Community Sailing.

I chose HRCS primarily because they offered classes that fit into our schedule, Monday and Wednesday evenings. Most sailing schools in the New York metro area offer classes only on the weekends, which made it impossible for us to attend. Only HRCS and one or two other schools offered weeknight classes and HRCS fit into our schedule better than the other schools. In addition, we could easily commute from our home in Queens to the HRCs dock and facility on the Hudson River in Manhattan via the subway.

Guy, Cairon and Vicki in the cockpit of a J/24 on the Hudson
HRCS trains on the J/24, maintaining a fleet of eight docked at Pier 66 on the Hudson River in Manhattan. All of HRCS' instructors are US Sailing certified.

While I still do not know the definitive difference between US Sailing and the American Sailing Association,  I liked the fact that US Sailing dates back to 1897 and is associated with the Olympics. ASA dates only as far back as 1983. It also seems that many non-profit community Sailing Programs associate with US Sailing while most Commercial Sailing Schools associate with ASA, and I liked the idea of learning with a non-profit community organization, like HRCS, rather than a commercial for-profit school.  However, if an ASA affiliated school had better fit our schedule, we probably would have taken classes there without a second thought.


Alex teaching about the parts of a sailboat
Vicki and I ended up in a class with two other students, Guy and Tom. Our first instructor, which we had for the first two of our six lessons, was a young Irish sailor named Cairon. His style was loose and laid back but he had us out on the Hudson and sailing our very first class. Unfortunately, Cairon had to return to Ireland before our course was over and so Alex was our Instructor for the third night of class. His style was pretty much by the book and a little more knowledge based while Cairon’s style was more experiential. Ripley instructed us for our last three lessons, including a night of high winds on the Hudson when the J/24 we were sailing was a bit overpowered. Ripley kept her cool, however, and encouraged and motivated us to meet the challenge, if not head on, then in a close reach. Her instructional style was somewhere between that of Cairon and Alex.

Ripley and Tom on a J/24
Some might think that having three different instructors, over six classes, would have been a problem, but it was not. I think all in the class would agree that having three different instructors gave us three slightly different perspectives and a broader exposure to sailing than if we had just one instructor. I would not have wanted to miss learning how to sail from any of the three.  All three were competant, experienced, helpful, and professional US Sailing Instructors.
The staff of HRCS was also quite willing to work with Vicki, who had to miss one of our Wednesday classes because of a previous engagement. They scheduled her to attend part of a Saturday afternoon class, with Ripley and two other students, when the class would be covering the same material Vicki missed. HRCS did so at no extra cost, enabling Vicki to meet the course requirments for both instructional time and content!
At the end of our sixth session, after having sailed in calm, moderate and high winds over three weeks, and after having our skills evaluated over those three weeks, the four of us in the class took the US Sailing Basic Keelboat Written Exam. Ripley graded our exams as soon as we finished and that night all four of us learned that we passed.

Vicki and I have since then been sailing a C&C 24 out of Brooklyn’s Mill Basin and into Jamaica Bay, having sailed at least three times after we were Basic Keel Boat Certified.

1 comment:

Nobanno said...

Sailing is really good.But one must learn this first. I am trying to Sailing team building.