How to Sail – Capsize a 2 person sailboat

This training video looks at how to deal with
a capsize for a two person sailing dinghy using the scoop method, which is where one
person rights the dinghy and the second person is scooped aboard and then able to help the
other person get back aboard. Capsizing is a normal part of everyday sailing.
There’s nothing to worry about, the boat won’t sink. Even sailors with years of experience
capsize. And you should practise your technique with deliberate capsizes on light wind days
to perfect your technique. The most common capsize is where the wind
simply over powers you and knocks you over. First you should check that you are both ok
and not caught up in any loose ropes, and check that the centreboard is pushed fully
down as you’ll need this later. In the unlikely event of becoming trapped under the sail,
simply push up on the sail. This will introduce a pocket of air and then you can swim free. When in the water it’s important to keep
in direct contact with the boat at all times to prevent you from getting separated. This
can be done by either holding onto the mainsheet or by holding onto the hull itself. You should both swim to the rear of the boat
which also ensures no one gets trapped under the hull should it invert. And while you’re
there check the rudder hasn’t fallen off, if it has, refit it. If you feel the boat rolling on top of you,
you need to swim clear and let the boat settle. If however you do get trapped under the boat
then you need to take a deep breath and bob out from underneath the upturned hull. In this example the boat has fully inverted.
To make it easier both helm and crew swim to the centreboard in preparation to right
the boat. To increase leverage try to get out of the water by climbing on the lip of
the upturned hull, and both grab hold of the centreboard. But be careful not to damage
the trailing edge of the centreboard as this is a thin edge and is delicate and very easily
damaged. With both of you pulling in the same direction,
just lean back. There’s no need to strain here as a gentle and sustained pressure will
suffice and is the key to an effective capsize procedure. Slowly the boat will adopt the
flat capsize position, which when reached, the lighter person should then swim back around
the rear of the boat and end up on the inside cockpit being careful to stay in direct contact
with the boat. It’s important that you talk to one another
at all times as you won’t be able see each other. Release the mainsheet fully like this to ensure
that the sail flaps when the boat is upright, which will reduce the risk of an accidental
capsize whilst you are sorting things out. The helmsman then applies all his weight to
the top of the centreboard and pushes down. Surface tension of the sail on the water may
need you to apply a quick pump to break the seal, which when happens the boat will right
quickly. In the cockpit the crew should grab hold of
something rigid. This will make sure they are scooped aboard but avoid applying too
much pressure as this will work against the helmsman who is working on the other side.
With the helmsman continuing to push down on the centreboard and the boat righting itself,
the crew is then simply scooped aboard. With the boat now upright, the crew is then
able to assist the helmsman to climb aboard. This can be over the stern like this. Or over
the side of the boat on the opposite side of the boom. Do not climb in under the boom as it is likely
that this extra weight of the helmsman under the boom will pull the boat over once more.
If you come in over the stern of the boat like this make sure that you are quick because
your weight will act as a sea anchor and make the boat turn away from the wind which will
increase the chance of yet another capsize. Once aboard sort out all the ropes and make
sure nothing is tangled and open any drainage points and start sailing. In this example the boat has not inverted
it’s just laid on its side. In this situation it may not be necessary for both people to
move to the centreboard. In this case the heavier person would swim to the centreboard
whilst the lighter person stays on the cockpit side. Releasing the mainsheet as before and
grabbing hold of something in the cockpit, being careful not to work against the effort
of the helmsman, the crew holds onto the boat while the helmsman pushes down on the centreboard. To add more leverage you can stand on top
of the centreboard. Leaning back and pulling on a rope, the boat comes up and scoops the
crew aboard exactly as before. Then the crew helps the helmsman aboard. In this case over
the stern of the boat, being quick as before. Any loose ropes are then tidied up and the
boat is ready to sail away. It’s a good idea to practise your technique
on light wind days in sheltered water. By practising you will be better rehearsed for
the real thing. Choose a safe area that’s deep enough to take the mast should you fully
invert. To force capsize your boat, both of you should
sit on the same side of the boat and then lean towards the boom. This imbalance of weight
will capsize the boat. When in the water go through the routine already shown. If you sail with a Spinnaker, the basic capsize
procedure is the same, the only difference is how to deal with the extra sail. As with
a normal capsize, the heavier person will swim around to the centreboard, leaving the
lighter person inside the cockpit. In this example the crew then releases the spinnaker
halyard and pulls the sail back in the chute using the retrieval line. This makes things
a lot easier later on, and will make it a lot safer once the boat is upright. Once the
sail is lowered the conventional capsize procedure then applies.

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4 thoughts on “How to Sail – Capsize a 2 person sailboat

  1. Great Video! Great channel!. I am not a pro at all, but some suggestions: instead of hanging to the center board climb onto it. When the boat comes up step into the boat rather than dropping into water again. Timing is crucial. This way back into the boat is much more elegant (at least for heavier and/or older sailors :-)). Laser Bahia has many steps / handles so it is easy to climb up. You can even go up from "inside".
    For heavier sailors: leave main sheet in clamp until you are on the center board. This way you have all the time in the world to climb up because the weight of the boom and main sail acts as counter weight. Otherwise if the main sheet is free the boat might tilt already before you are on the centerboard. Once on the center board release main sheet to avoid another capsizing. You can slowly release it to control how fast the boat is coming up. You can even stop halfway and wait until boat turns head into the wind.
    Best is of course id the helmsman keeps out of the water when capsizing. Scooping the crew will take about 15 seconds only in that case.
    Anyway, I am looking forward to more videos!

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