Camano Sail and Power, LLC., has a philosophy, used by
many other sailing schools, that the very best sailors begin in the
smallest boats. While it may seem strange to some that learning
to sail well in one of these little "teacups" will make them a better
big-boat ("keelboat") sailor, the facts support exactly that
conclusion. Outstanding big boat sailors the world over,
Olympians, international champions, America Cup sailors,
'round-the-world racers almost all began, and continue to sail, on
small boats. Owners and skippers of big boats scour the ranks of
skilled dinghy sailors who have been Olympians and National and World
champions to crew and skipper their big, multi-million dollar
boats. The McKee brothers of Seattle started on teacups in the
local racing scene out of the University of Washington, advanced to
Olympians and World Champions in
dinghys, and are much sought after to run the big gold-plater racers,
including being on board during several America Cup challenges.
But, what do they do when they are not on somebody's Gold Plater?
They are kicking butt in their dinghys all over the world.
That is how they stay sharp. Some of you
have no doubt seen windsurfers delighting in big wind and big water.
Top dinghy sailors lust for the same conditions. We like to
say that when the gas burners come in because of the weather, we go
out. BUT, like every challenging sport, there is always an
element of risk.
There is no question that small boat sailing is not for everyone.
But, please don't dismiss this aspect of sailing before talking to our
staff about the benefits and possible drawbacks that may influence
your decision. The dinghy sailing program at Camano Sail and Power uses the national-standard of small boat sailing certification, that of the United States Sailing Association, the congressionally-mandated authority for the sport of sailing in the U.S. From the casual sailor to the racer, from the young person to the Olympian, there is something for everyone. At
Camano Sail and Power, we strive to make sure that each student knows
and benefits from the following in order to minimize risk and maximize
will have world-class sailing instruction and instructors, certified by
the national governing body of sailing in the U.S., the United States Sailing Association,
You will learn state-of-the-art techniques that will help you
become the best sailor you can be. These are the same techniques
that are taught at sailing programs all over the United States,
techniques that have been proven by developing champions at every level
of our sport, including the Olympics and World's.
will learn how to manage
risk, for instance by wearing proper coldwater sailing clothing,
learning about the danger signs of fatigue and cold, and know
how to recover from the inevitable capsize,
You will learn to evaluate the
risk level by knowing how to "read" the environmental conditions of
wind, wave, current, and temperature etc. and make appropriate
decisions. All in all, sailing is still safer than driving your
Some of the reasons for starting on, or continuing to sail, dinghys.
they are relatively inexpensive. Camano Sail uses the Laser as the
preeminent learn-to-sail-small-boats sailboat. The international
Olympic Laser, used by top sailors around the world, costs around
$6000-$7000 new out of the box with all of the latest class-legal
go-fast accessories. Used they can be had on Craig's list for
under $1000 to under $2000 for "well-used-but -possibly-not-race-ready
perfectly good ones, to $3000 -$5000 for well maintained, race ready
boats. And although the Laser is technically a "one person boat"
it can handle two normal-weight adults, or an adult and
child, just not competively.
they are easily sailed by one or two people. Having a big boat
can be nice but, can you always find the friends you need to go out for
a day of sailing?
they are easily transportable. The one-person Laser or Optimist
("Opti") can be cartopped by one person.
from an instructional, and quality and quantity of experience point
of view, and the reason why
they are excellent training is that the feedback
on your performance is essentially instantaneous and you will execute
as many different sailing techniques, and receive as much feedback, in two hours of dinghy sailing as you
would in an entire day of big boat sailing. You can be a
lazy sailor on a big boat and get away with it most of the time.
Be lazy on a small boat and it might bite you, and fast if it is
at all windy. The "right" moves are rewarded with a fast and
favorable response, more speed and better sailing. A
"wrong" move is likewise quickly rewarded......but, in a
negative-reinforcement way. A poorly-executed gibe on a windy day
is an almost guaranteed capsize. Sheeting your sails improperly results in
immediate loss of speed and the feedback of watching your classmates
sail away from you.
all of the bits and pieces, "strings", sails, language, words of
communication etc are identical from small boats to big boats.
If you can talk the talk and walk the walk on a dinghy, a big
boat is not a very big challenge. They're just bigger, heavier,
react a bit more slowly, and cause more damage when they hit something:
there is almost no such thing as a "cheap accident" on a big boat
On a big boat, what you do now may be affecting your boat many
minutes from now. On a dinghy, now is now.
they require and reward an "active" sailor. Couch potatos will
not enjoy dinghy sailing. Small boat sailing is a great way to
exercise almost every muscle in your body. For example, how are
your abs? Can you lay, back down, on a table with someone holding
your feet, glutes on the table but at the edge, and extend out
horizontally and hold it for 10, 20, 30 minutes?? Top dinghy
sailors can, they have "iron abs" because that is what it takes to
keep your boat upright in big wind. The small boat pictures linked
to this page will give you a feeling for the need for physical
fitness. However, do not let any of the
preceding discourage you: we start everyone out on light air days
and let them develop their skills, exposing them to progressively more
challenging conditions. as they become better sailors. We strive
to avoid placing our students in situations where their concern for
their safey overwhelms their desire to learn and their ability to have fun. The safety and enjoyment of our students always takes precedence.
Sixth, all sailboats sail pretty much the same way, they all obey the same laws of aero- and hydrodynamics. Speed
and efficiency of utilizing the wind's power are about the only
differences between boats. Oh, and of course cost. If you can sail a dinghy, you can sail a big boat.
At Camano Sail and Power, LLC., we teach you in
progressive wind and water conditions, beginning with non-challenging
situations. And we teach you how to keep out of trouble and how
to get out of trouble. For instance, capsizing is a normal part
of dinghy sailing. We teach you how to recover from a capsize and
be up and sailing in less than a minute. In dinghys, we like to
say that if you don't capsize once in a while, you are not trying to
get the most out of your boat. The only way to prevent a capsize
in dinghy sailing is
Equipment and boats
Sail and Power can provide you with all of the
equipment that you need to have a safe and fun dinghy sailing
experience. We can arrange for the purchase of many kinds of new
and used dinghy sailboats. Contact us at email@example.com 425-314-9824.