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Sailing is Easy

Sailing is an activity that very few people are familiar with. There are many reasons for this. Firstly, generally human beings have an inherent fear of the seas. This may stems from previous phobias or plain ignorance. Although the sea is full of colorful fauna and creatures, many still fear the unknowns leering in the seas. The gruesome scenes in movies like the Jaws one to three disproportionately magnify this fear.

Secondly, many also fear the bottomless depths of the seas. Unlike in the swimming pools where the depths are clearly marked on the side of the pool. Additionally, there are many swimmers around when you are in trouble.

Thirdly, sailing looks complex. There are many ropes on board which looks like sphagetti. It is laborious to trace which ropes control that parts of the boat. Finally, it is not cheap to own a boat. In addition, there are also mooring charges to be considered.

Sailing enthusiasts can start with the dinghy. For children, the Oppy (affectionately coined by the British) is the most suitable. It is almost unsinkable with its inflatables. It is light and a child can easily handle without undue physical exertion. The sail area is small; hence the boat will not sail very fast. This makes the Optimist very popular with kids. In Singapore, we have a big fleet of Optimist. There are many accomplished sailors who had started in their early childhood sailing the Optimist. In the SAFYC (Singapore Armed Forces Yacht Club), the GKA (Gets Kids Afloat) program is a very popular course. They are usually runs at maximum capacity. In fact, Singapore has several world class champion Optimist sailors such as Sean lee and Griselda Khng.

What are the preparations that a young Optimist sailor need in order to sail safely? Booties are essential. This protects the feet especially if the boat is launched from the beach. It will also prevent slips when the boats are launched in the marinas, usually from a slipway into the sea. Protecting the eyes from the harmful UV rays is critical. Sailors must wear sunglasses with UV coating at all times on the waters. This is important because the reflection from the sea surface also cause discomfort to the eyes since it is likely that they spend many hours on the water. Protective clothing is also required to accord protection to the exposed upper and lower limbs. The Neilpryde range of apparel is also very popular with sailors in Singapore. Last but not least, broad rim cap is also part of the essential attire for the sailor.

The Optimist is quite simply, the dinghy in which the young people of the world learn to sail. Sailed in over 110 countries by over 150,000 young people, it is the only dinghy approved by the International Sailing Federation (ISAF) exclusively for sailors under 16 years of age. At the Athens Olympics over 60% of the skippers and 70% of the medal-winning skippers were former Optimist sailors.

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