learn to sail in 3 days

this short pamphlet is a great introduction to sailing a Sunfish (.pdf link below)

Learn to Sail in 3 Days (I found the pamphlet at Avon Sailboats)

it’s quick and easy to read – only 10 pages long! but with nice color photographs and good explanations of the basic steps to sailing a Sunfish.

day 1

the 1st day is spent on the boat, initially without the sail, to learn how the boat moves in the water, using the tiller/rudder to steer, or just paddling. then, it goes over the proper way to raise and lower the sail.  finally, day 1 wraps up with tipping the boat over, specifically so that you will learn that it is pretty simple and easy to tip it back upright (in 15 seconds, they say!)

prior to starting day 2, they talk a bit about the wind and weather – and how a sailor can learn to anticipate wind shifts while sailing.  they also explain how sailing “works” – that is, how the wind and sail work together to move the boat depending on the direction you’re sailing.

day 2

the 2nd day is spent sailing – learning how to position yourself on the boat, and the various points of sail trim, particularly starting out reaching across the wind.  they start by sailing on a reach (a beam reach is when the wind is perpendicular to the length of the boat – see diagram below) and after sailing a short distance, turning around (a 180-degree, “U”-turn), and sailing a beam reach back to where you started. and then repeated as necessary to get sufficient practice.

day 3

the 3rd day is spent learning how to sail into the wind (sailing a zig-zag pattern, or “beating”) as finishes up with sailing downwind.  an interesting key point while beating upwind…

…when “reaching”, you learned to continually adjust the sail to keep it just on the verge of luffing, while keeping the boat on a steady course.  “Beating” requires the opposite approach… ADJUST THE BOAT TO BEAT…

they explain step-by-step procedures for beating upwind – sailing close-hauled – and making frequent 90-degree turns to zig-zag your way into the wind, all while staying out of the “no-sail zone”, or risk getting stuck “in irons”.  then, they explain turning to sail with the wind, and then how to complete a gybe turn.

that pretty much wraps it up!  overall, I’d say this is a great introduction to sailing, and particularly to the Sunfish sailboat, because all of the pictures used are Sunfish sailboats!  it also gives non-sailors some insight into how sailing a small board-boat such as a Sunfish is not really that complicated.  part of the appeal of the Sunfish is its simplicity – only 2 lines: one to raise the sail (halyard) and one to adjust the sail trim (mainsheet); and the tiller and rudder.  once the sail is raised, you really have only 2 things to worry about – adjust the sail trim with one hand on the mainsheet, and adjust the course steered by moving the tiller (which turns the rudder).  piece of cake, right!!

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9 Responses to “learn to sail in 3 days”


  1. 1 Ron November 1, 2009 at 10:18 pm

    Nice post – sailing pictures ..Keep Posting– Tip: Keep your post active- commenting helps it – Ron sailing pictures

  2. 2 Eric The Hand January 17, 2010 at 11:19 pm

    just what i need. Thanks a bunch!

  3. 3 Geophizz November 21, 2012 at 10:45 pm

    That book came with my Sunfish when it was new in 1977. I still have the boat, and I think the booklet is still kicking around somewhere in my attic.

    • 4 my2fish November 21, 2012 at 10:48 pm

      That’s pretty cool. I’ve been wondering who published it.

      • 5 Geophizz November 21, 2012 at 11:38 pm

        Looking at your PDF brings back memories. I pretty much used it as my “how to sail” textbook. I treated that book like it was gold. If I remember right, it was a supplement that came in the middle of the AMF catalog. The last few pages of the catalog had a coupe of pages about joining the Sunfish Class Association and subscribing to Windward Leg, which at the time was a glossy magazine.

        Now I’m really dating myself, but given my frostbiting results last Sunday, maybe I should reread it.

      • 6 my2fish November 22, 2012 at 8:30 am

        never hurts to brush up on your techniques!


  1. 1 learn to sail in 3 days « my2fish: a blog about sunfish sailing « Sail Boating Trackback on October 29, 2009 at 2:12 am
  2. 2 my2fish blog 1st birthday « my2fish: a blog about sunfish sailing Trackback on July 17, 2010 at 1:20 am
  3. 3 Shoreline Interview with My2fish – Our pick for top blog on Sunfish sailing | Shoreline Sailboats Trackback on July 25, 2013 at 5:03 am

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