How can we help to progress our sailing during the depths of winter?

Packed the boat up for winter? Well I might not agree (you’d expect that!) but I do recognise that for some it is just too cold and miserable out there to go sailing!
Whether sailing through the depths of winter or not, for the ‘keen sailing bean’ this period still offers a chance to progress your sailing. Here are my tips for how to get the best from the depths of winter?

Tip 1: Go sailing! Tog up and get out there!

If you are still sailing then winter is a great time to put individual race results out of your mind and work on specific improvements. There isn’t a key sailing event just around the corner and you aren’t locked into a Wednesday Evening series battle with your mates! Try to focus on addressing an area of weakness that you noted during the sailing season and really work at it. Just 2 or 3 focussed sessions can make a real difference to your boat speed or handling.

If you can, then team up with a buddy / buddies to help motivate in the colder conditions. Use the facebook groups, WhatsApp groups, email or heck, even talk to someone on the phone!

Now is also the time to consider sailing a different class of boat, or if you are a single hander helm try crewing occasionally for a top helm in a double handed class – you are bound to pick up something insightful!

Tip 2: Watch sailing!

Youtube is a great free resource and is absolutely packed with sailing material, much of it is very good albeit there are poor quality videos too (like mine!). At the bottom of the page are just some of links that I’d recommend. I’m currently enjoying the Volvo Ocean Race as well as learning about match racing with the help of Dave Perry.

Tip 3: Read about sailing!

Borrow or swap sailing books with your mates. There are so many topic areas from boat tuning, meteorology to psychology and physical fitness. I enjoy reading the stories of great sailing adventurers too!

Tip 4: Build your base fitness

The best focus for winter is ‘base training’. This means general fitness such as aerobic endurance and basic core stability. Winter, and especially the Christmas period, is a good time to give sailing specific parts of your body a bit of a rest. We all need a rest period if we are to achieve good intensity as we build up for the 2018 season.

Running, swimming, cycling or any exercise that gets your heart rate up (hey hey!) is suitable. If you love your cycling then be REALLY careful at this time of year, especially on icy days. I found black ice a few years ago on my road bike and came off my bike. An accident can really set your fitness
programme back and it really isn’t worth taking the risk! I’d recommend an indoor turbo trainer for the keen cyclists; try the new smart trainers such as

Tip 5: Treat yourself to some new gear

Weather too miserable to do anything outside? Get online and spend your pocket money! Now is a great time to make the necessary purchases and January should see some great deals. The sunny evenings of the 2018 sailing season should be spent sailing or enjoying the outside world in some form…not inside scanning the internet for kit and boat bits…

Tip 6: Reviewing and goalsetting

Christmas and the new year is traditionally a time for both reflection and for looking forward. Take a moment to reflect on your sailing and to consider any goals for 2018. This is vital if you really do want to make improvements or if you just want to get more enjoyment from your sailing. If you sail a double hander then meet your helm/crew for a pint (of Bristol’s finest tap water of course) and talk it through together.

Tip 7: Plan your 2018 sailing programme

Another great thing to do when the weather is miserable. Get online and see what events you’d like to get involved in and get the diaries out. Communicate early and honestly with your key household / crew stakeholders!

Tip 8: Fix your boat ready for the new season

This mostly applies to you proper sailors out there with your proper boats. Even us Laser sailors might be tempted to patch a few battle scars…just remember that gelcoat and most resins do need some warmth in the air to go off!

Tip 9: Tie your boat down securely in the dinghy park

Nothing sets you back like a message from the club that your boat has been flipped in strong winds and is damaged, or even worse, has damaged somebody else’s boat. Laura’s former boat was on the southern end of a row and got flipped a few years ago. We thought we’d tied it down but obviously not well enough. Fortunately, nobody else’s boat was damaged. We were both very upset by the experience and lost time trying to check for and rectify damage.

Tip 10: Relax and rest at Christmas

There really isn’t a better time for a rest period than Christmas. Eat a bit too much, especially chocolate, and try to relax! For those of us lucky enough to have wonderful friends and family then spend time with them. We are also part of a super sailing family at CVLSC; don’t be a stranger and get down to the club to meet up with buddies. Boxing Day and New Years Day are both very jolly.

Steve’s current favourite YouTube channels

ISAF channel:
On this channel I’m particularly enjoying the ISAF Olympic classes racing, the Extreme Sailing Series and the Star Sailors League

Volvo Ocean Race

World Match Racing Tour:

A super play list on how match racing works and the insider tactics by Dave Perry available at

I’d love to hear your favourite sailing videos too please!