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Important Skills to Keep Fresh

Quantum experts share their list of less common, albeit important, skills to practice from time to time to keep fresh for when you really need them.

There are a number of maneuvers you do every time you hit the water: tacking, jibing, setting and dousing the kite, but what about the less common skills that, when you need them, you need to be able to execute flawlessly? Here is a list of skills that many teams do not practice regularly but are very important to execute.

Click here to download a printable list to keep on your boat.

Man overboard

It’s not only important that your skipper has a handle on this maneuver but also that the rest of the team does. What is the process that ensues the moment someone announces the emergency? Each team will have a different plan, but most should at least include these essentials: 

  • One person needs to point and not take their eyes from the overboard sailor
  • Determine as soon as possible whether you’ll need extra assistance from other boats or from emergency services
  • A plan to get the sailor up onto the boat out of the water
  • A flotation aid to throw the sailor (preferably with a line attached), especially if they’re not wearing a lifejacket

Once you make the plan, practice it with different crew at the helm.

Steering with the sails

Whether it is because you’ve lost your rudder or need to check if your sail trim is in balance, knowing how to steer your boat with the sails is a valuable skill. Quantum's Jay Sharkey has another great piece on finding balance if you'd like to know more.

Headsail change

It’s not uncommon for the weather to change the moment you hit the race course or just when you lose sight of the mooring. Know how to best manage headsail changes with your set-up and practice tack and in-line changes. There’s a video on that here.

Depowering your full-size sails

When the wind comes up, do you know what to do to keep your boat flat? Do you ease the mainsheet or traveler? Put on the backstay? Wind on the check stays? Move the jib cars back? There’s no one-size-fits-all answer, since every boat is set up differently. Make sure your crew knows their roles and what they need to do when there’s a big puff on.

Putting in a reef

Sometimes cranking on the backstay and moving the jib cars back isn’t enough. No one’s having fun when the leeward rail is dragging in the water. Assign roles and make sure everyone knows the process. This is even more important when communication is limited due to rough conditions. Click here for more tips on putting in a reef.

Sailing to a mooring and anchoring

Whether you’re heading for some overnight camping or taking your small racer for a day sail to a sand bar to swim, the last thing you want is not to be able to find and hook up to the mooring. The safety of free moorings is sometimes questionable, so be ready to dive in and inspect the chain. You may also want to set an anchor light. If a mooring isn't an option, you'll want to make sure you can safely anchor. Click here for some tips on anchoring.

Checking the rig tune

If you don’t tune your rig for each event or sail, make sure you check it throughout the season and adjust as needed. Improper rig tune can significantly affect the performance of your sails and your ability to get where you need to go in a hurry.

There are other great skills to add to this list, but this should get you started. Click here to download a printable version, including a place to add your own skills. If you need assistance or have any questions, don’t hesitate to call your local loft or one of our experts.

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