There are several things you need to consider if you want to join sailing clubs. But before going any further, you need to know your reasons why you want to join a sailing club in the first place. Is it just for social activities? Or access to races? Maybe you want to learn sailing and figured that joining a club would be the best strategy to find a suitable instructor. Reasons may vary and often your motives in sailing will dictate what kind of sailing clubs will benefit you the most.
Generally, there are two main types of sailing clubs –inland clubs and coastal clubs. Now, let me give you an idea of how “different” they are from each other.
Inland sailing clubs operates on lakes and reservoirs, and are suitable for most people starting out in sailing. Learning to sail can be difficult in itself without having to worry about challenging currents and sea breezes. Because of their smaller size, inland lakes and dams generally have smaller waves, so except for the small waves created by the wind itself, and the occasional other boat passing by, there is often nothing else to bother you. Some lakes have warmer waters and are less intimidating than bigger bodies of water or the ocean. So when you capsize, which you will surely experience (every sailor does), you are generally in a more friendly and manageable environment.
Whether or not you are a total newbie and interested in yachting or dinghy sailing, then joining a coastal club would be a good idea. Some coastal sailing clubs, however, are exclusive to yachting although a number operates both yachting and dinghy sailing activities. Some of these clubs conduct their races solely in open ocean waters, while others have races in more protected harbors and bays. More seasoned sailors join coastal clubs because they love the challenge of the open sea. If you are a newbie and choose this option, beware, because as they say, open sea sailing is not for the faint-hearted.
If you want to learn how to sail, looking for a club that offers sailing classes, or wondering what facilities they have, here are some tips that might help you out:
What to look out for when looking into sailing clubs…
- The club must have good access to a lake. Dragging your boat and trailer even for a hundred meters will tire you. If you are into dinghy sailing, look for parking that is close to the water’s edge.
- Some clubs offer sailing tuition and courses. These vary in content, structure, and price. Discuss with them what you are after and they will tell you if they can accommodate.
- Check out the launching facilities. Make sure they are compatible with your boat or that you are comfortable with it. Launching from a pontoon may be awkward for someone who is used to launch from a ramp or the shore. Different boats require different facilities and bigger boats may require an extra hand to launch. Bigger clubs may have tractors or cranes that can tow or lift boats into the water.
- Dinghy storage areas vary greatly between sailing clubs. A clean and well-maintained dinghy storage area is an indication that its members take pride in their club. These are little things that are often overlooked but surely you wouldn’t want your boat stored in an untidy area and without cover.
- Changing rooms and hot showers are indispensable amenities that every good sailing club should have. Some sailing clubs also have cafes or shops where you can buy food and drinks without having to change out of your sailing gear. This is good if you want to grab a quick snack in between races without having to get changed.
- Another important thing you need to consider is security. Clubs that are near urban areas or located in the inner city may have problems with troublemakers who will cause damage to your boat and gear simply because they want to. So be careful with security, as you don’t want vandals to desecrate your beloved sailing boat.
- If you are looking at a coastal club or a club on an exposed bay, make sure they have a protected area to launch your boat, protected from rough seas. Launching in rough waves can be dangerous to you and your boat. Damage of this kind to your boat can cost a lot of money in repairs.
What else do you look for in sailing clubs?
I am sure there are some other equally important considerations that you need to look into (please feel free to share below any other tips you have), but I hope the above tips will give you a good head start. Sailing is quite an expensive sport to start with, and joining sailing clubs is a cost you have to bear, so make sure that they will serve you well. Prudence dictates that you look around and compare costs over benefits… but of course the lowest price is not always the best, so make sure to carefully check out what you can before joining.
As mentioned above, please share any other tips you may have when checking out sailing clubs, and happy sailing!