Dinghy sailing is the activity of sailing small boats by using five essential controls:
- the sails
- the foils (i.e. the daggerboard or centreboard and rudder and sometimes lifting foils as found on the Moth).
- the trim (forward/rear angle of the boat in the water)
- side to side balance of the dinghy by hiking or movement of the crew, particularly in windy weather (“move fast or swim”).
- the choice of route (in terms of existing and anticipated wind shifts, possible obstacles, other water traffic, currents, tides etc.).
When racing, the above skills need to be refined and additional skills and techniques learned, such as the application of the “racing rules of sailing”, boat handling skills when starting and when rounding marks, and knowledge of tactics and strategy. Racing tactics include sailing so as to minimise the effect of other competitor’s sails on your speed, or to influence their movements to your advantage.
Those shared challenges, and the variability of the weather and sea can make dinghy sailing and racing a fascinating and rewarding recreational sport: physically, mentally, and in terms of personal relationships with other crew member(s), competitors, and organizers. The RYA, regulating authority for sail training in the UK and Europe, states that “With a reliance on nature and the elements, sailing … is about adventure, exploration, teamwork and fun.”