The First Step

A new e-course from the ASA introduces sailing basics to would-be sailors.

Your First Sail

Are you a complete newbie to sailing but would like to learn some of the basics before heading out on a friend's boat or enrolling in a sailing course? A newly launched e-course by the American Sailing Association called Your First Sail is designed to be the first step on the path from complete landlubber to sailor.

This e-course is quick—it only takes about 30 to 45 minutes to complete—and quite thorough. This class is for those who don't know the bow from the stern, but by the end, the student will be familiar with the basic anatomy of a sailboat (mast, hull, shrouds, mainsail, jib) and points of sail and sailing commands and vocabulary. There are short instructional videos to emphasize such points as dressing for sailing, orientation and directions, parts of the boat, how a sailboat works, tacking, jibing, and points of sail. Several quizzes are in place throughout the course to test what you've learned or what you need to go back to.

Not only for would-be sailors, this class is also great for anyone who would just like to be more helpful aboard a sailboat or simply understand how a sailboat works. “Your First Sail is also ideal for experienced sailors and yacht club members to recommend to novices they plan to take out on their boats,” explained Charlie Nobles, executive director of the ASA. “The opportunity for beginners to get up to speed on the basics prior to boarding a sailboat can ensure a safer and more enjoyable sailing experience for all involved.”

Your First Sail, which costs $9.95, can be accessed at . Additional information can be obtained on the ASA Web site or by calling the association at 310-822-7171.