Friday, July 11, 2014

How to crew - a reader's letter

Hi Etienne,

I'm a 20 year old guy with basically zero sailing experience who would love to crew in some regattas, but I'm not sure where to start! I live near McGill, and don't have a car, so it would be a bonus if it was not too far.

Could you point me in the right direction, or offer any me any tips?


Hello Nathan,

There are lots of different ways to start sailing. Some read sailing adventure books and dream of inaccessible faraway places. Some want to participate in ocean crossing races.  Some look for a Tuesday night race on the lake followed by a beer.  I'll assume you're just looking for the fun sail on the lake.

Some people accept neophytes into their boats for racing, as long as a commitment is offered.   I started a Facebook group for that purpose, but for now it's still very small.

I recommend a boat with less people on board, you'll be doing more tasks. A 2 person boat means that you'll be doing everything the helmsperson (driver) cannot do, and that may be too much in a race for a beginner. The Fireballs at PCYC are active.

There are two 3 person boats active in Montreal: Sharks and Lightnings.  The Sharks have their own online group at Montreal Shark 

Most clubs have some sort of available crew list, you might want to register there. If you're a strong biker, you can take the Lachine canal bike path and stop at the 3 biggest yacht clubs, in Dorval, Pointe-Claire and Beaconsfield.  You can add Baie d'Urfé if you can bike over 80 km in the day.  All these clubs are accessible by 211 bus from Lionel Groulx metro.

You'll be more attractive to boat owners if you learn how to sail. You can also read about the owner's perspective. I'll write a post on how to learn in the Montreal area soon.

By the way, I'm also looking for opportunities for the Montreal Sailing communities project.