Learning to Sail in Thailand

Ever thought about Learning to Sail?

Bangkok’s nearest yacht sailing base is Ocean Marina Yacht Club, located some 15km down Sukhumvit Road from Pattaya, towards Sattahip. At Ocean Marina you’ll find a number of companies that offer an exhilarating and fun day out visiting the beautiful and untouched islands off the coast of Pattaya.

But if you’re the kind of person who longs to be a participant instead of a spectator, why not actually learn what it takes to move and drive a boat?

A word of warning: once you undertake the challenge of learning to sail, it may very well become an all-consuming passion that takes over your life.

So, where does one start? Usually there are two options:

1.You can learn to sail experimentally by simply going out to crew with the racing teams at the monthly racing events held at Ocean Marina.

2.You can enroll for a course or courses at a sailing school.

The sailing school option is the most popular, so let’s focus on this approach. It raises a number of questions and hopefully we’ll be able to answer a few of them.

How Do You Choose a Sailing School?

Whether you are starting from scratch or continuing your sail training, it is very important that you choose a school that meets your requirements. This choice is difficult for the new sailor as you will have little or no direct experience to base your decision on. Therefore, you should evaluate all of your options and ask questions of the schools you contact to ensure they can meet your needs.

Your prospective schools should be accredited by the International Sailing Federation, which has guidelines on setting up schools and the facilities they should have.

The Basics

Yachts – You should make sure that the yachts the school uses are appropriate and in good condition. Ensure that there are not too many people in the class, so that you will always have things to do rather than watching and waiting for your turn.

Instructors – You need to be sure that the instructors are qualified, having completed approved international training programs.

Courses – You must ensure that the courses are appropriate to your level and to the sailing level you wish to attain.

Certification – The certifications issued must be recognized in the geographical areas where you intend to use them. Ask about international accreditation – once you’ve passed will your certificates be accepted internationally?

Code of Ethics – Does the school have an ethical approach that will deal with you as an individual and help you attain your goals?

As far as training schemes go, there are two basic types of syllabuses used internationally now.

The first starts your teaching to sail on live-aboard type boats progressing from crewing to acquiring skipper skills.

The second, which I favor, teaches you how to sail on smaller yachts and covers all the basic elements of sailing including decision making. As your certification levels increase, so do the size of the yachts and the distances sailed.

This scheme was initiated in the USA & UK and is replacing the former in a number of areas.

The student-to-instructor ratio has of been concern to many of the sailing authorities, due to the rapid growth of commercial sail training. Obviously a yacht carrying six students makes more money than a yacht carrying three at the same or similar price.

Unfortunately, however, the students on the crowded yacht get only half as much instructor time as the others. In these days of furling headsails and other labor-saving devices, there is an optimum student capacity; exceeding this is not in the student’s interest.

Another concern of the sailing authorities is the very question of what certification actually achieves. Simply handing out certificates that denote course completion is in no one’s interest. Every student should NOT automatically be entitled to a certificate.

Only students who satisfy the examination components and are in the opinion of their instructor, competent and confident at their certified level, should be certified.

Sailing takes practice. For the training benefits to be maximized, all the skills you learn should be practiced over and over again. At all advanced levels of qualification, time with hands-on experience is required.

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