Over the past 8 months we have had the pleasure of sailing with some pretty cool people and in some rather incredible places (think the Caribbean) – but as a beginner, what makes you a better sailor? Well we asked some of the pros on the Helly Hansen roster as well as giving you some of our tips from 2016. Both in dinghies and on racing yachts.

Learning to Sail: Top Tips

We sat down with the man who took our sailing virginity if you will, Ned Collier Wakefield – Team Concise Skipper. Team Concise run one of the quickest off-shore yachts in the world, MOD70. Next us we quiz Prue Nash – Sailing Logic and Brittania Events Sea School leader with a knowledge of the Solent like no other. Last of all we chat with Nikki Curwen – a literal wonderwoman who specialises in solo sails and lst year completed the Mini Transat – a Transatlantic race in a 21ft boat all on your tod..

Ned Collier Wakefield – Sailing for 16 Years


What advice would you give to someone starting out in their sailing career/hobby?
Ask lots of questions! And try all the different types of sailing you can, being versatile is a valuable skill in whichever discipline you choose and there’s no substitute for time on the water. If you get the opportunity to sail with some of the biggest names and most successful guys, make the most of it, they’re always keen to pass on their advice and skills.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given in your career?
Fitness is key. Fitness is so important as a sailor and it’s just as important to be training in the gym or out on your bike as it is to be sailing every day. Also, be smart about what sailing you are doing, make sure you are always progressing and pushing to be sailing with and against people that are better than you, or that you will learn from.

What’s your favourite piece of sailing kit? Why?
Our Ocean Trousers are fantastic. The knee reinforcements have been a life saver on more than one occasion and anything that makes your life a little more comfortable is very highly valued! They’re super lightweight, but durable too – so it’s the perfect combination.

Prue Nash – Sailing for about 30 years – eek!!

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given in your career?
This came from a former Clipper Skipper at an after dinner speech at some regatta or other. He said, “Sail Safe. Once we are doing that, let’s think about having fun. If we’ve got both of those nailed, think more about the racing and go fast.” I always try to think that way ‘Safe, Fun, Fast – in that order’.

How can you work your way up to sailing on a bigger boat, from dinghies? What’s your advice?
I was lucky enough to meet some friends who needed crew and that’s still a great way to get involved. Sailing Logic’s “Introduction to Racing” course is designed to give new crew basic skills to join a race team which is a useful bit of knowledge to take with you.

What advice would you give to someone starting out in their sailing career/hobby?
Sail on everything you can get your hands on! Knowing different boats and their quirks and how to fix them when things go wrong will always make you a useful crew. Be self-sufficient – have your own kit, check the tides and weather, turn up early to help the boat get ready and stay around to clean the boat when it’s all over. By tidy on board – put stuff back where you found it and don’t let your personal kit explode over the boat. When 10 race crew are sharing a 40 foot boat, that’s really important.

What’s your favourite piece of sailing kit? Why?
A thermos mug with a lid. I love coffee but I never drink it fast enough, so it goes cold unless it’s in my insulated mug.

Nikki Curwen – Sailing for 27 years


What advice would you give to someone trying to get into sailing?
Start from the beginning and get into a dinghy, while sitting on a 40ft cruising boat sounds great I think the best way is get in something small, where everything happens a bit quicker. You can really feel the wind, and understand what’s going on.

What’s your favourite piece of sailing kit? Why?
Dry Original long-sleeved base layer – its super comfy and lightweight, while great for layering up to keep warm. I’ve found I quite literally live in it when sailing, all times of year, in every condition.

And lastly, what about me? What are my tips…

Stuart Flatt – Sailing for, erm 9 months (about 15 days in total)

Sailings Tips
1. Be an Owl. if there is one thing I have learnt, you have to keep watching in every direction at all times. Be an Owl and always keep turning your head. Kind of things I am looking for are: Gusts of wind, wind lulls, other boats that may come close, other racing boats; their position and movement (when they tack or jibe) and lastly spotting that Buoy you are heading for in a race.

2. It’s all about the feels. Especially when on smaller boats. Knowing the direction of the wind and possible changes will help you position the boat at the earliest opportunity. You don’t even need a rudder to steer, you can happily do circles just by using the positioning of the sail and when racing, being at the optimum angle will make that little bit of difference between winning and losing.

Favourite piece of kit?
My mid-layer crew. I wear it all the time, probably more so when I am not sailing. It is a great, versatile jacket that can be used pretty much anywhere. Oh and sunscreen, I get burnt pretty easy!

Helly Hansen - Cowes Week Sailing (10th August 2015)

There we have it, some sailing tips from the pros and even a few from me for good measure. If you have any to add or fancy helping us out then get in touch on social media @AverageJoesBlog.




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