You may dream of being the next Olympic gold medal winner, or you may simply want to take up sailing as a weekend hobby. But one thing is certain: joining a good sailing school is one of the first things you should consider doing. Being part of a sailing club provides many advantages for sailors of all levels and abilities, but when you are first learning to sail the benefits are huge. So whatever motive is driving you to take up sailing, it is seriously worth considering paying an annual fee and joining a sailing club.
For a start, sailing schools usually offer the chance to take part in courses and to get yourself some qualifications. These can range from beginner courses to advanced courses for instructors. They will not only teach you the basics of sailing, but will include useful advice about rigging, tying knots, sailing maneuvers, meteorology and wind awareness that are helpful to all ability levels.
Once you have taken a course, the sailing school will often allow you to rent out boats and equipment to use whilst you are there, meaning that you will often not need your own boat to sail in. As well as this, other sailors are always looking for people to help crew their boats for them, and as such you can often strike up good partnerships with other sailors and sail for free.
Besides having a lot of fun, safety will be the primary concern of the sailing club. For this reason, a safety boat will be provided at specific times, and for a beginner sailor this is essential. They will also check that you are wearing the right safety gear, that you are experienced enough to be there in the first place, and that you are kept fully informed about weather conditions.
If you do buy your own boat, then the club will usually provide storage space for an annual fee. Not many people have their own places to store a boat, and it makes sense to keep it near to the water where you will be sailing.
One of the best things about joining a sailing club, however, is the people that you will meet. Not only will you be meeting and sailing with other people who have the same shared interest as you, but you will also be surrounded by sailors of all ability levels, some of whom will have sailed for their entire lives. Such people are a great source of knowledge, tips and advice to help get you started on the right track, and are always the first port of call when you need some sailing information.
If you are joining a sailing club in Britain, it is likely to be approved by the RYA (Royal Yachting Association). If in America, it will probably be a part of US Sailing. It is important to check the credentials of any club that you join, and only join one that comes with a good reputation if you want to get the most out of the experience.