Sailing instructors are just getting you started. The time spent with your sailing instructor is just the beginning. The coaching you receive will pave the way for future learning.
The cost of a sailing instructor is a very small percentage of your boat ownership costs. The outlay for some instruction is a good investment. Get some lessons. New hardware and systems on your boat are great. But, instruction will enhance your experience and enjoyment more than anything purchased and installed. Invest in yourself. Get some lessons from a professionally certified sailing instructor.
Conversely, lessons from your friends are mostly counterproductive. Unbeknownst to you, your happy hour friends have bad habits and utilize poor techniques. Also, your friends don’t know what they don’t know. You deserve the best professional instruction. Hire an instructor. Sailing instructors have been trained in how to train. They have broad knowledge and will not infect you with “how-your-friends-do- it” disease. From a certified instructor, you will learn the various best methods, procedures and techniques.
Instructors have been vetted through a rigorous selection process. During my American Sailing Association Instructor Qualification Clinic, only five out of nine sailors finished and were selected as instructors. Of note, the four non-selected had been sailing their entire lives. An ASA instructor qualification is an indicator of expertise and well earned. With that said…
Some instructors are better than others. Who you get makes all the difference. When scheduling some instruction, do your homework. Learn about your instructor. What is he/she qualified to teach? How long has he/she been coaching? Get references. Contact the last three students coached by your instructor. Who you get matters. Be insistent and schedule the best instructor. And scheduling…
Sailing schools are businesses. They are $elling instruction and qualification$ in order to make money. Let the buyer beware. Schools have significant differences. Is the class one day or two? How many on the boat? What is the boat? How much classroom versus how much sailing? Is the curriculum tailored? Do your homework and don’t be bashful about asking the hard questions. You will get the minimum you accept. Scheduling your instruction is a business negotiation. Be strong.
Join a local sailing club. Have some fun. If you are new to the sailing lifestyle, the support and camaraderie will serve you well. These friendships are the biggest joys of sailing.
Subscribe to some sailing magazines. They will “keep you up” with the advancing technology and the latest trends.
Take ownership of your continuing education. Attend seminars and webinars. Don’t allow your knowledge and experience to stagnate and spoil. Keep your momentum moving forward.
Use your boat. Practice builds proficiency. You are not going to get better from your living room. Get out there and sail. Go places. Crawl, walk, run then sprint. And, be kind to yourself. Things are never perfect. If you have an off day, forgive yourself (and crew). And always, if you make an error, blame your sailing instructor. Fair Winds, Capt. John Rahm