Welcome to Hong Kong Schools Sailing Association

Level 1, 2, 3 & 4 Sailing Course Details

The aim of this course is to provide a brief experience of dinghy sailing for someone who has never sailed before. By the end of the course, participants will have had a short introduction to the sport of essential background knowledge. It is recommended that all participants consolidate this short introduction with the Basic Skills Course – Level 2. The emphasis of this course will largely practical.

A. Practical skills

1. Rigging

  • Wind awareness

  • Parts of boat and rig

  • Sail controls

  • Foils-centerboard dagger-board and rudder

2. Rope work

  • Figure of eight knot

  • Round turn and 2 half hitches

3. Launching and recovery

  • Securing boat on trolley

  • Wheeling trolley clear of other boats, overhead and underwater cables

  • Wind awareness

  • Lunching and leaving shore

  • Coming ashore and recovery of dinghy on boat trolley

  • Techniques appropriate to the location should be taught practically

4. Sailing techniques and manoeuvres

  • Wind awareness

  • Reaching-sailing across the wind

  • Stopping-basic hove-to position

  • Tacking-turning the boat through the wind

  • Getting out of irons

  • Sailing upwind

  • Sailing downwind

  • Gybing-turning the back of the boat through the wind. (This is likely to be carried out with guidance from the instructor who is likely to remain on board a crewed dinghy for large sections of the course particularly in anything other than light winds.)

B. Onshore teaching

6. Capsize recovery theory

  • “Always stay with the boat”!

7. Racing

  • Club, classes and handicaps (Portsmouth yardstick rule basic background only)

8. Sailing theory

  • Awareness of other water users

  • Basic “collision” regulations e.g. port/starboard, windward boat, overtaking boat

9. Meteorology

  • Onshore and offshore winds

  • Sources of weather information

  • Typhoon and monsoon signals and other warnings

10. Clothing and equipment

  • Clothing and footwear

  • Personal buoyancy

  • Sun protection – sun tan lotion, sunglasses, head-wear.

  • Water bottle (dehydration)

By the end of the course, the successful sailor will be safety conscious, have a basic knowledge of sailing and be capable of sailing a dinghy without an instructor on board in light winds. The majority of conventional beginners’ courses cover both Level 1 and Level 2 and are normally of not less than 30 hours duration: the syllabus below details those items not listed in Level 1. the emphasis of this course will be largely practical.

A. Practical

1. Rigging

  • Rigging a dinghy according to weather conditions

  • Reefing ashore

2. Rope-work

  • Revision of Level 1

3. Launching and recovery

  • Storage of dinghies ashore

  • Launching and recovery

  • Paddling/rowing a dinghy around a short triangular course

  • Coming alongside and making fast

4. Techniques and manoeuvres

  • The Five Essentials – sail setting, centreboard, balance, trim and course made good

  • Practical application of the 5 essentials round a course

  • Leaving and returning to a beach, jetty or mooring

  • Coming alongside a moored boat

  • Basic Rules of Road – port and starboard, when boats meet on the same tack, windward boat, overtaking boat

  • Tacking

  • Awareness of lee shore dangers

  • Sailing in close company with others

  • Crew overboard recovery

5. Capsize and recovery

  • Practical experience

  • Knowledge of several techniques boat types

6. Racing

  • Types of course

  • Starting and finishing procedure


B. Onshore Teaching

7. Sailing theory and background

  • Point of sailing

  • No Go Zone

  • Basic aerodynamic theory – how a sail works

  • Sea sailing – Local tide tables

  • Springs and neaps

  • Local current information

  • Taking local advice

  • Relationship between tide and wind

  • Relative speed with / against current

  • Estuaries and harbour mouths

  • Local by laws and maritime regulations

  • Telling someone ashore

  • Dehydration, heat stroke, hypothermia

8. Meteorology

  • Sources of information

  • Weather forecasts

  • When to reef

9. Clothing and equipment

  • Personal safety – clothing, buoyancy and basic equipment (anchor, paddle and bucket)

  • Safety equipment – visual methods of attracting attention

  • Action to help those in distress (helping those in danger)

By the end of the course, the successful sailor will have a competent, safe, practical approach to the sailing of small open boats and will be capable of sailing and making seamanlike decisions on moderate conditions.

It will be assumed that every student starting this course has already mastered the practical skills and absorbed the background knowledge required for Level 2. In practical terms, this implies a season (record in HKSF Logbook) of sailing between courses. The duration of teaching this course should not be less than 30 hours.

A. Practical

1. Rigging

  • Rigging a variety of dinghies using all the boat’s normal equipment.

2. Rope-work

  • Level 1 revised

  • Knowledge of care of cordage e.g. whipping heat seal as appropriate

  • Other knots and their correct application only where necessary e.g. bowline to attached the main halyard to the head board of the mainsail

3. Launching and recovery

  • Leaving and returning to beach, jetty or mooring

  • Windward and leeward shores

  • Use of anchor to haul off and return to lee shore

4. Sailing techniques and manoeuvres

  • Anchoring – principles and techniques

  • Heaving to

  • Reef afloat

  • Towing another sailing dinghy and being towed by a support craft

  • Recover a crew who has fallen overboard efficiently

5. Capsize and recovery

  • Righting an inverted dingy (mandatory)

B. Onshore Teaching

6. Racing

  • Mark rounding – wide in, narrow out

7. Sailing theory

  • International Regulations for Preventing Collision at Sea 1972 as amended by Resolution A464(XII) and A626(15)(LN. 365 of 1989)

  • Meeting other sailing vessels

  • Meeting power-driven vessels

  • Following or crossing narrow channels

  • Meeting vessels restricted in their ability to manoeuvre, i.e. tows, deep draught

  • Action by stand-on vessel

  • Traffic separation schemes

  • Other dangers

  • Understands the following terminology: port and starboard, windward, leeward, abeam, downwind, pinching, sailing by the lee, luff, bear away, planing, broaching

8. Meteorology

  • Sources of information – radio, internet, television, newspapers, recorded telephone forecasts

  • Simple interrelation of a synoptic chart.

  • Main characteristics of high and low pressure areas

  • Significance of minor changes in barometric pressure

  • Awareness of changing weather conditions

  • Beaufort wind scale

9. Tides and current

  • Use of local tables

10. Navigation

  • The compass – steering and hand-bearing, variation and deviation

  • Basic understanding of charts and important symbols

  • Steering a given course

  • Fixing position

By the end of the course, the successful sailor should have a confident, safe, seamanlike approach to sailing and will be capable of handling a high performance sailing dinghy (normally includes a spinnaker and trapeze) in strong wind conditions.

A competent and fluid level of sailing is required, e.g. completion of Level 3 and a season recorded in the HKSF Logbook between courses. The duration of teaching of this course should not be less than 30 hours. 

A. Practical skills

1. Rigging

  • Rigging any type of dinghy including spinnaker and trapeze if carried

2. Sailing Techniques and Manoeuvres

  • Beating, reaching and running, all on a restricted course
  • Basic ‘hove-to’ positions
  • Can perform spinnaker hoist, gybe and drop (in role of helm and crew)
  • Crew overboard recovery
  • Launching and recovery, including lee shores
  • Sailing backwards
  • Sailing a tight circular course
  • Reefing afloat
  • Mooring/coming alongside an anchored boat
  • Righting and recovery of a capsized dinghy including spinnaker from half capsize and total inversion (in role of helm and crew)
  • Dropping the mainsail in an emergency (when capsized)
  • Crew trapped
  • Anchoring
  • Boat handling in adverse circumstances – sailing without a centreboard, sailing without a rudder, towing another sailing dinghy

B. Onshore Teaching

3. Sailing Theory and Background

  • Demonstrate a working knowledge of the names and uses of sail and mast controls, to include kicking strap, centre mainsheet, luff tension, sheeting position, clew outhaul and mast chocks
  • Understand Apparent Wind
  • The power zone (increase in power) and hoist drop zone (decrease in power)
  • Weather helm and lee helm
  • Charts, tide tables, stream atlases
  • Navigational instruments and limitations afloat
  • Pilotage buoyage, transits, visual aids
  • Use of electronic and magnetic compasses
  • Interpretation of important chart symbols
  • Position fixing by transits and bearing
  • Steering a compass course
  • Principles of dead reckoning
  • Laying off a course to steer to allow for set and drift
  • Planning chartwork before departure

4. Metereology

  • Sources of information
  • Interpretation of shipping forecasts
  • Winds in weather patterns, local conditions, observation afloat
  • Local information sources – Marine Department, Royal Observatory
  • Characteristics of typhoon signals and precautions (e.g. securing your boat)

5. Clothing & Equipment

  • Suitability of boat, equipment and crew for proposed task / sailing area
  • Personal and boat buoyancy, clothing for hot and cold weather (being prepared for both conditions)
  • Boat safety checks – hull, spars, rigging, buoyancy, foils, sails