Capsizing is one of the greatest fears of many people learning to sail but what’s the worst that can happen ? You get wet and that’s about it. Capsizing is a normal part of dinghy sailing and it happens to everyone, even the most experienced sailors. It’s a good idea to practise righting a capsized boat so that it can be done quickly if need be during a race. Obviously you must ensure your boat has enough buoyancy !
Outlined below are the steps required to right a dinghy which has ‘gone turtle’, ie one that has completely capsized with the mast pointing directly down.
The photos were taken at the Streaker Dinghy Open 2004 at Ulley Sailing Club.
1. It’s often easier to climb on top of the dinghy before starting the righting process.
2. Check the centreboard is fully down. This gives more leverage when righting the boat.
3. Using your weight on the centreboard slowly right the dinghy. In this case the helm is using his arms to hold the centreboard. Since the streaker is a relatively light dinghy this can be done. For heavier dinghies the helm may have to actually stand on the centreboard as more weight is required. If this is the case ensure you stand as close to the hull of the boat as possible to minimize the risk of snapping the centreboard.
4. Continue using your weight on the centreboard to slowly right the dinghy.
capsized sailing dinghy
5. The dinghy is slowly righting itself.
6. Nearly there !
7. Now move away from the dinghy ensuring it doesn’t fall on top of you. If you were standing on the centreboard at this point you could actually climb into the boat as it is righting itself.
8. The dinghy is now righted and all that’s left to do is climb back in !