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Advice for new entrants into the world of model yachting

Whilst talking to people at the dinghy exhibition waiting to take their turn for a stint sailing on the pool, I began to realise I have still not addressed the topic how to get into the sport. This post goes some way to address that issue.

There is a lot of information on the web but it is disparate and this site as well as those of our National Associations, is an attempt to tie everything together and help the newcomer navigate to become a regular racer.

Where to start

A google search on "model yachts clubs near me" will identify local places you can sail. There are over a hundred clubs across the UK so there should be one nearby. The other source is the MYA web site. Look up the club web sites and see what time they sail and then pop down and visit and chat to those sailing. Find out what boats they sail and I am sure someone will give you a test sail.

When you have found your club and discovered what boats they sail, the next step is to chose a boat. There is no point buying one immediately before visiting a club as you may not have anyone to sail against. If you have the skills, try building one yourself. It is rewarding seeing your own work when it finally gets on the water.

Once you have your boat, the next step is to learn the techniques for setting up the rig and this is where your fellow club sailors can help. It does not matter if you are a top international sailor or beginner, you will need help to understand the basics and nuances of the boat you are sailing. There are many you tube videos which will help.

One thing you will rapidly learn is that if there are two or more boats on the water, it won't take long for them to line up against each other and race. Unlike the full scale version of sailing, the desire to cruise model yachts is rare unless you have created one of the beautiful scaled vintage yachts like a 12 metre but that is another story.

How much does it cost. The boats shown at the dinghy exhibition, the DF65 is approximately £250 for the boat, stand and transmitter. Its bigger brother the DF95 starts at around £400. As you scale up, one of the most popular boats is the International one metre which is sailed at most clubs. The cost of these boats is upwards of £500 for a second hand boat. Like dinghy sailing these days, the cost can be quite high for a new, all singing all dancing boat. £5000 is a top price for a complete racing package but that is at the extremity of the price range and you can get on the water with a competitive package for less than half of that sum.

There are several other classes raced in the UK and you can see them here.

Once you have your boat, the only way to develop your skills is to get on the water and sail. It takes a while to develop thumb control and coordination to steer and set the sails on your craft. Left and right on the right hand toggle to steer the craft and up and down on the left hand toggle to set the sails. It sounds so easy until you try it. The only way to get better is time sailing your boat on the water.

One last thing. If you are a top yachtsman with high ambition, prepare to invest a lot of time developing your skills. There is a lot of talent in our fleets.

Whatever you sail, enjoy the time on the water and the camaraderie of your fellow sailors.

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