Start sailing with FYC

2022 sunset crop

Why start sailing?

Sailing can be whatever you want it to be. If you would like to watch the sun set from the water on a calm summer evening without having to paddle, you can. If you want to race competitively like you've seen on the Olympics, you can.

Sailing is a surprisingly accessible and affordable sport. Startup costs are very low and even owning your own boat doesn't need to break the bank. You don't need to be super fit either, and many sailors continue into their 80s and beyond, their passion for it never dimming. That's not to say there's nothing on offer for adrenaline junkies, and there are plenty of YouTube videos (with annoying music) as evidence of that.

Sailing is also a very friendly and social hobby - no-one can tell tales of daring and bravery quite like a sailor fresh off the North Sea, over a dram of whiskey in the club bar. You'll always find someone willing to help you improve your skills, rig your boat, or know what to look for when buying your own.

Is it safe?

No sport is completely without risk, but sailing is very safe. There will always be a safety boat on duty at races and funsails organised by the club, ready to help out any sailor in distress. Club dinghies can only be taken out when the safety boat is present. As long as you dress sensibly for the conditions and don't exceed your limits, you're very unlikely to get hurt.

What does FYC offer?

We are an RYA training centre, and we run RYA Dinghy Level 2 courses a few times per year. The course takes two days or four evenings, and qualifies you to take club dinghies out by yourself and take part in races. Because we're a volunteer run club we're able to offer courses at cost - but we're set up to train members so you will need to join. As shown below, this is still cheaper than most training centres and you get a lot more for your money.

Once you have Dinghy Level 2 we can offer other courses that will develop your sailing and racing skills, and we run regular races and funsails. We strongly encourage members to join in races, because simply having a point to aim at will improve your skills even if you have no interest in winning! As you build confidence and find yourself sailing closer to other boats, you'll be able to see how you're doing and improve even more.

We have changing facilities, a club bar, and a busy social calendar.

For more info see Training and Racing.

What does it cost?

If you've never sailed before, your first year at FYC will cost £240, which covers your annual membership (£100), an RYA Dinghy Level 2 course (£140) and use of the club's dinghies once you complete the course. That's a whole year's sailing for less than most training centres charge for the level 2 course alone! The membership fee is reduced to £50 for under 23s, and £30 for under 17s.

Each year afterwards you'll pay your annual membership fee, plus £60 for the use of club dinghies.

See Join.

What do I need?

You can, if you wish, spend hundreds of pounds on specialised dinghy sailing gear. This will make you more comfortable for longer periods on (and occasionally in) the water in a wider range of conditions.

However, getting started can be very cheap and you may have everything you need. If you're attending a Discover Sailing taster session, you'll need some old trainers that can get wet, a waterproof coat, and quick drying base layers such as a swimming costume, cycling shirt, softshell fleece, and walking trousers. Just avoid cotton and wool (including denim) which get waterlogged.

For anyone taking a course we recommend buying a 3mm wetsuit. The Cyclone and Aurora wetsuits by Lomo are excellent value at £50. You can combine these with your waterproof coat and base layers to suit the conditions, and this will keep you comfortable for most of the season.

Once you've had your shoes filled with sand a few times you'll probably decide dinghy boots are a worthwhile investment at around £30.

The club provides buoyancy aids, which must be worn at all times on the water.

See also: What to Wear.

What if I capsize?

You'll get wet, and you may not win your race!

Many new sailors fear their first capsize, but it's really nothing to worry about. You will be taught how to recover a capsized dinghy during your Level 2 course.

Modern dinghies cannot sink and will sit on their side for a while before turning upside down, so it's rare to get caught underneath and easy to swim out if you do. Usually you'll simply slip out of the boat as it rolls, and be left holding on to it - getting separated is unusual in light and moderate winds. Getting the boat upright and climbing back in is also straightforward, requiring less strength than you might think.

The water around Fisherrow is between 10°C and 13°C for most of the sailing season - cold but not uncomfortable if you're wearing a 3mm or 5mm wetsuit. On a warm day a capsize is a pleasant way to cool off!

At all funsails and races there will be a safety boat on hand, able to reach you within a minute or two, so if you can't recover by yourself the safety boat crew will bring you onboard the RIB and help you get the boat upright, and give you a tow back to the beach if required.

See this video for a quick introduction to recovering from a capsize.

Want to know more?

We're happy to answer any questions you might have. Email if you're interested in joining the club and taking a course. During the sailing season you can visit us on any race or funsail day and members will tell you about the club and point out committee members. Out of season just email us and we can probably arrange a tour!