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Kit Guide

Transition from Optimist sailing to 420 crewing

By 2nd October 2020

During the last few months I have started crewing a 420 for the first time. Before that I had been sailing Optimists and this transition has been a lot of hard work but also a lot of fun. I have found some similarities but also a lot of differences. The overall race structure still stays the same with an upwind leg, a reach, and downwind although the length of races can be different.

The part that changes is how you do the race - the tactics. You can no longer just decide to do something, but you have to discuss it, even for something as simple as tacking for a starboard boat. What I also find makes the tactics harder is that sometimes by the time you discuss something your idea may no longer be worth doing. I also found it difficult to get used to crewing. It took me quite a long time to learn how to control the spinnaker and the jib, as well as to be comfortable on the trapeze. It is completely different to helming so it takes a while to get used to, but I find the trapeze a lot of fun.

FRA 54279 Racing in La Rochelle FRA 54279 Racing in La Rochelle (on the trapeze) (Photo : T Brandicourt)

In my opinion you also learn a way of sailing you may never have seen before simply because someone else is sailing their way and it can bring you some good inspiration about things you can improve on or things that you didn't think of doing when you were alone in you Optimist.

I also think it is cool to be able to discuss the tactics with someone before the race in case you missed thinking about something interesting. Lastly it is so much fun especially since you can laugh and chat with someone all the time! I have a lot of fun with my helm Amelie. My 420 coach Julien is helping me so much to adjust to crewing and learning about 420s.

Happy Sailing!


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