me taking a dipWhile crewing the rescue boat I've noticed that not everyone sailing at Overy has a particularly good technique for dealing with capsizes. I don't pretend to be expert in lots of dinghy sailing areas, but in this case I can truly say that I've had lots of practice! The photo shows me taking an imprompu dip during an OK open meeting at South Staffs SC - there isn't even any wind! The following notes are based on what works for me and what I've noticed posing problems for others. Dave Cooper

Capsize Basics

laser taking a dip Capsizes are a shock when they happen for the first time, but they are an integral part of sailing small dinghies and being prepared to deal with them is a major confidence booster. The first essential in a capsize is to stay with the boat (it's big, buoyant and easy to spot!) so as you plunge more or less elegantly into the briny, try to get a good grip on a solid bit of the hull!
The second essential is to make sure that everyone's ok, so if you're sailing a boat with more than one occupant, take a moment to check in with the rest of the crew that everyone's got their head above water and looks cheerful!
If you should wind up under the sail (it isn't common: I must have capsized hundreds of times and it's only happened to me once), your buoyancy aid will hold you up in a bubble of air: you can breath. Just duck out under the rear edge of the sail.

Simple capsizes

Simple Capsize: click on pic to animate (click on pic to run animation)
For a lot of helmsmen starting off as youngsters in toppers and the like, the simple capsize to leeward is a common experience. The boat gets blown flat: the helmsman swings his legs off the top of the hull onto the centreboard and pulls the boat back upright. As the boat rights (s)he steps back aboard over the gunwhale. Job done! Unfortunately as experience builds, fewer capsizes will be of this type: more will involve downwind sailing or capsizes to windward going up the beat.
Dave Cooper tips in again!  Laser at OASC Here's a pic of me demonstrating simple capsize recovery in a laser (I said I capsize frequently!). I'm just climbing back over the gunwhale as the boat comes up.


Advanced capsizes!

Nick taking a dip It's always good to learn from the experts, so here's a pic of Nick Craig (Enterprise and OK World Champ) and Emma Craig on their way to an early bath! Yup, capsizes happen to everyone, and nobody is going to swing their leg over the side onto the centreboard this time!
Once you've arrived in the drink, got a grip on something solid and mutually checked the crew, it pays to just take a moment before you head off round the hull: make sure the sheets aren't cleated, push the centreboard fully down, and if the boom is still in the air like this National Twelve (lovely colour scheme!), N12 taking a dip just pull it down into the water, otherwise the boat will start sailing while you're still trying to pull it up. If you're sailing something like an OK or a Europe with a low boom, let the kicker off. Don't mess around for long, though - look how fast that National is inverting!
Darn, this capsizing lark takes longer to write about than it does to right the boat and get sailing again! Let's split the story here and continue on the next page.