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      Sailing courses for kids

      Sailing can be a recreational activity (cruising) or sport (racing). It is increasingly popular to teach sailing to children as the feeling one gets from helming a dinghy can give a child the confidence to pursue anything they put their mind to.

      A great way to introduce your child to sailing is with an Optimist dinghy course. Initially a child will share a dinghy with another child, focus on the basic skills of steering, balance, simple sail trimming, and learn all the foundational jargon and theory. In subsequent courses, a child can learn how to sail a dinghy single-handedly and all that entails including managing boat rigging, capsizes, and sailing techniques. It is very important at this stage that your child continues to build up their sailing time to put in practice all they are learning. Once a child can launch and recover a dingy without assistance, and sail single-handed around a triangle course in light to medium winds, they are ready to start learning race techniques and racing rules.

      The Optimist dingy is a popular way to start a child off because its size, stability and forgiving nature allow a child to ease into the physical, technical and racing skills needed in competitions. However, there are many other centreboard boats that a child may either choose to start on or graduate to after an Optimist course. For example, a laser pico or laser, Wayfarer, Sunfish, RS Feva, RS Quest, RS Tera or Topper. More advanced racing centreboard boats for either single-handed sailing or team sailing include 29ERs, 49ERs, 420, 470, the RS 2000 and the Waszp, and there are a world of other racing classes to explore with keelboats and multihulls.

      A great age start to sail is 7-8 years old as its best to ensure a child has sufficient swimming skills and water confidence. Although an Optimist dingy can be used for teaching up to the age of 15 years, one is never too old to learn how to sail.

      The benefits of sailing for children include

      • encouraging an active lifestyle which establishes healthy practices for adulthood
      • enhancing cognitive development
      • learning key survival skills such as navigation, knots, weather patterns and safety protocols
      • improving social skills and teamwork
      • physical benefits such as muscle and bone strengthening
      • protecting against future cardiovascular disease, cancer and metabolic diseases
      • increasing engagement levels and confidence
      • better quality sleep that enhances a child’s resiliency and concentration
      • learning how to deal with success and rebound from failure, and build character when participating at the level of competitive sailing
      • fostering family bonding time when the parents sail too!