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Kit Guide

Books for the aspiring Club Sailor

By 30th September 2020
One of the difficulties of improving as a club sailor is time. We don’t have enough of it, and maximising the use of the time we do have is critical. Here are the draws on my time, which I am sure are typical of the early 40's sailor:
  • 2x Children. Both starting to sail, which is great. Just need them to give up the rugby, tennis, taekwondo, iTouching, swimming, hiking and homework. Ok, maybe not the swimming (judging by last years performance).
  • 1x Wife. Not sure my wife would appreciate being described as ‘a draw on my time’ but fairly sure she wont read this blog (just in case she does, of course I jest, my wife is very supportive of my sailing activities).
  • 1x Dog (a border collie, whose exercise requirements mean that he is really 2x dog).
  • 1x Job for The Man
  • Emsworth Slipper Sailing Club responsibilities - if we don’t organise and run the club racing and sail training, who will?
  • A never ending list of household chores and DIY
Despite the above, I do manage to go sailing once a week or so. A good question is whether there are ways to help improve sailing that fit with a busy life, and I would suggest that one way to do so is to read books. I’ve read a ton of sailing books over the years, and I thought I’d give my ‘top10’ list. “Sail, Race and Win” by Eric Twinname. The objective of this book is to enable a sailor to self-coach. The writing style is so engaging with lots of anecdotes about Eric’s personal experiences, it is a pleasure to read. If you are looking to improve sailing, I can’t think of a better reference to start the process. “Start to Win” by Eric Twinname. The focus of “Start to Win” gives the club sailor insight into areas such as starting, upwind work, mark rounding and speed. Again, the beauty of the book is in its readability, the style is both accessible and engaging. “RYA Tactics” by Mark Rushall. A book by an Emsworth resident, it must be good! “RYA Tactics” gives detailed understanding of the tactical side of racing. The book starts with an overview of strategic factors, and then has a number of sections giving tactical considerations for each part of a race. I’ve found this book particularly useful in systematically assessing a venue before competition, it helped us win the ISO Europeans in Garda, and 2nd in the UK nationals in the Solent. Great practical section on compass use. “Mental and Physical Fitness for Sailing” by Alan Beggs, John Derbyshire and John Whitmore. A relatively short book (100 pages), but a very good read. I find that club sailors tend to dismiss the ‘mental’ side of sailing, prefering to focus on technique and physicality. Personally I’m not convinced that this is a good thing, and have read a number of books on the subject. The great thing about this particular book is that it avoids a lot of the wishy-washy side of mental fitness, and instead gives a very practical approach to ensure that you improve this aspect of our sport. “The Complete Introduction to Laser Sailing” by Ben Tang. Having 200,000 boats, it is no surprise that there are a number of books targetted at the Laser sailor. There are no books specifically targetted at the 300 sailor (as there are approximately 230 of us in the UK), so Laser books are the closest reference I have for single handed sailing. I’ve read a number of these, but the book by Ben Tang is the pick of the bunch. Clearly written, well structured and with enough detail to be interesting. All the articles on the “Rooster Hints and Tips” website I recognise that recommending articles elsewhere on this site looks to be a little self-serving, but I would make this repost : (i) they are free, (ii) where else are you going to find detailed info on subjects such as 4th dimension sailing, and (iii) I used them all before I joined the Rooster team! “The Rules in Practice 2013-2016” by Bryan Willis Very clear insight into the 2013 rules, with a series of scenarios that demonstrate the application of rules for common situations on the race course. I keep this in my kitbag and always seem to dip into it after a race to clarify an on-the-water situation. Others of books of interest, but less likely to improve the average club sailor! “High Performance Sailing” and “Higher Performance Sailing” by Frank Bethwaite. When I do science homework with my son, there is always a focus on showing your ‘working out’. Frank Bethwaite also likes to show his working out, these are thick and complex books! I enjoyed the view into the development of the 49er, and the ‘fast handling’ sections, but can understand why some readers find them a bit hard going. “Advanced Racing Tactics” by Stuart Walker Written in 1976, and from the perspective of a Soling sailor. A lovely book to read, and full of anecdotes from the authors sailing experience (more often than not when things have gone wrong, rather than successes). “A Speck on the Sea” by William Longyard Subtitled “Epic Voyages in the Most Improbable Vessels”. This book will not improve your dinghy sailing, but it is a fantastic read. It contains over seventy accounts of adventurous sailing in small boats, culminating in the attempts to cross the Atlantic in boats less then 10’ in length. Mad, but interesting. I'd be interested to hear about any books others have found inspiring and useful. Cheers, Mark. /Slipper Musings @ Blogspot/

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