Most people find themselves inextricably drawn to the sea. Who can resist the beach -be it a hot summer's day or a windswept wintry one? Cornwall has one of the longest coastlines in Britain measuring nearly 200 miles, and there are few places here where the sea is out of easy reach.
There are plenty of opportunities in Cornwall for beginners to try sailing, and it can be much better for you than a visit to the gym. It's an exhilarating pastime, combining a competitive edge with the physical exertions of a good workout. Moving about the boat, raising and lowering sails, pulling in ropes - you can get super fit without really realising it. Being at sea clears the mind of cobwebs and the fresh air invigorates the lungs, improves circulation and almost guarantees a good night's sleep.
If you want to give it a try, it's a good idea to start with dinghy sailing. Dinghies range from the small-but-fast one person Lasers, which are not much bigger than a surfboard, to two person Mirrors and Ospreys. If you decide life on the ocean wave is for you, there are always boat owners in need of extra crew members for races, especially in the larger Osprey class, so you can get in plenty of practice.
Eventually, though, you will probably want to get a boat of your own. It's best to get plenty of experience in before you buy. Most sailing clubs hold racing leagues throughout the summer season and encourage new members. Many clubs offer introductory courses for beginners. These are usually nationally rated Royal Yachting Association courses, which start with a basic introduction to boats and seacraft and move on to the skills necessary for larger yachts and serious offshore racing.
The most popular places for sailing in Cornwall are the more sheltered seas on the south coast, especially around Mounts Bay and Falmouth. On the north coast the Camel estuary is popular. The Mounts Bay Sailing Club is based in Marazion. The clubhouse is opposite St Michael's Mount with beautiful views of the bay, and the club is home to a wide range of boats of all classes. It has a storage area in its own boat park and the long sandy beach provides an excellent launching site. The club's racing leagues are among the most vibrant in the area. Penzance Sailing Club, where many dinghies race, has a clubhouse and a small boat park.
Falmouth is an excellent place to learn to sail - the town's Carrick Roads bay is the largest natural harbour in the world. It has long provided a protective environment for the novice sailor, away from the rough seas and strong winds of the Atlantic. Although Falmouth is mainly home to larger yachts and has several marinas, the Port of Falmouth Sailing club holds many smaller class boating events. On the North Coast, Newquay is a popular place to sail from and the Newquay Sailing Club can be found in the harbour. Padstow is also an ideal place to learn, within the safe environment of the Camel estuary, and sandy beaches around Rock ideal for launching dinghies.
Even if you have aspirations to buy a yacht it's best to get some experience sailing dinghies first. Dinghies are the best way to learn the fundamentals and get the feel of handling a boat, the set up of the sails, the various ropes and a general sense of sailcraft.