Learning manoeuvres

We finally made it, reuniting with my little Figaro! Today I will learn manoeuvres. Theoretically, I know what they are but in practice, I have no idea what to do.

Learning manoeuvres

We finally made it, reuniting with my little Figaro! Today I will learn manoeuvres. Theoretically, I know what they are but in practice, I have no idea what to do.

Once again, thank you Julien for the surprise... I find myself facing the anti-tanning brigade: Lambert, David and Julien, only experienced sailors! I feel small next to them (no pun intended, I'm over 5'3") and I soon realise that they are not there to go easy on me.

So do i just go in my birthday suit?

And yes, me being a novice, I did not give my equipment any thought. To be on a yacht I thought you just had to be comfortable in your own skin! The boys give me the rundown: according to the weather and the temperature there are several possible types of equipment: salopettes and smock if it's raining, shorts and polo shirt/sailor's top if the weather is nice, etc. So now I am ready! It's a nice day for sailing so I put on some shorts, a polo shirt, a visor and sunglasses. And under this beautiful sunshine I take my role as a fair-skinned blonde seriously to preach to the boys and force them to wear sun cream! On a boat, the effects of the sun are ten times stronger between the reflections on the water, on the white yacht deck and sails, the wind and salt that dry out skin... in short, factor 50 all round, I'm having a ball!

Learning manoeuvres on Figaro

Ready about?

So here we are, manoeuvres time! We break down each manoeuvre and the boys put me in a position, I do only one action so that I can learn and am free enough to observe what is going on around me.

We start with sailing upwind by tacking: I'm on the winch, Lambert second winch, David is at the helm and Julien is in charge of getting the sails in front. When David says "ready about", if we reply "ready" he changes course by pushing the tiller while Lambert lets go of the Genoa sheet and I pick it up on the other side. Yes, I must admit, it's not easy to understand when I say it like that but that's exactly why we made a video (clever)!

The next thing they explain to me is setting the spinnaker: you have to go downwind and then—here's a little tip for beginners to make life easier—we released the Genoa sheet first and then hoisted the spinnaker. There will always be purists who say "no, you've got to hoist the spinnaker and then lower the Genoa" but our solution has been tried and tested by... me (well me and my anti-tanning team)! But why do it like that? Even though the yacht may lose speed, the manoeuvre is easier to do and the spinnaker inflates immediately. Then they showed me how to attach the spinnaker sheets and the boom with the sole instruction of: "pull as fast as you can on the spinnaker halyard at the mast". OK! Hoisting a spinnaker is quite something: the sail is very impressive, and so beautiful that I could get a crick in my neck from watching it for hours on end!

Then comes the trickier part: gybing. This is like tacking but when you are downwind, so you have to move the spinnaker from one side of the yacht to the other. Basically, it's getting the boom to change sides... personally, it's my favourite manoeuvre, I felt like I had accomplished something extraordinary when I managed it alone! I'll put it on my CV in future: "Skills: successful gybing"... but "on calm water"... and "with a crew that makes my life easier"! But I'm not going to let that technicality steal my thunder, can I or can I not solo gybe when sailing?

The crew sitting out

My tips as a beginner!

Us beginners, with our foolproof naivety and our incessant questions, we can be full of good advice! Firstly, DON'T PANIC, OK? You're not going to hit an iceberg and sink! What I mean to say is that you can make mistakes on board, mess up a manoeuvre and steer like a lemon, but you will not capsize or break the boat. And if I had to remember one thing: ease everything! If you let go of all the sails, the boat resets itself and stops so you can get your bearings and head back out to conquer the sea. And last but not least: ENJOY IT. Enjoy being slumped at the back of the boat, enjoy your mistakes at the helm, enjoy pulling like a donkey on the sheets to trim your sails, enjoy your crewmates, enjoy it, enjoy it, enjoy it, etc.

Learning yacht sailing manoeuvres

Another fantastic sailing session with a great crew

Another fantastic sailing session with a great crew. Calmly and with great teaching skills they managed to teach me the basic manoeuvres. We weren't successful in all our manoeuvres the first time but that's what learning is all about, right? Thank you Lambert for your chill and your jokes, Julien for your teachings and David for your legendary composure at the helm! When are we heading out again?



Equipe Communication & Apprentie Marin

A few tips:



No more choice!Now that I bet I’d solo sail in six months, I have to stick to it.For my first sailing lesson, Julien had a surprise for me...and what a surprise - a lesson on a light sailing boad!