Water under your boat can be fast. Water IN your boat is almost always slow. 2018 Australian & 2018 New Zealand Optimist Champion Fletcher Walters demonstrates his champion techniques for sailing and bailing in this video. Of course, practice is essential to master his technique and sail fast at the same time, but you’ll get it.
Practice sailing and bailing regularly to get smooth at it, because who wants water in the boat to make them slow? Get any water out as quickly as possible without being distracted from sailing smart and fast.
Getting good at sailing and bailing at the same time requires you to understand how to do it easily and then practice. Eventually, you’ll get smooth at it.
Sail and Bail Technique
Fletcher suggests bailing in the last few minutes before the start so that you start as dry as possible. (1:01)
Then stow your bailers between your buoyancy bags and the rail – one on each side.
Sail & Bail Steps (1:20)
- Put the mainsheet in your tiller hand.
- Hike to heel the boat slightly toward the side that you’re bailing to get the water to gather. If you’re too light to heel the boat enough toward you, ease your sail a bit while bailing.
- Grab the bailer nearest you and bail scooping from below your legs and then forward to the thwart (midship bulkhead) and eject the water over the rail. Keep your eyes up and watching your surroundings while you bail.
- Always stow your bailers securely after you use them so that they don’t get in your way and are ready for your next bailing.
With practice, you won’t have to look at your bailing at all.
If the mainsheet is getting in the way of bailing, slide the mainsheet away from the edge with your back foot.
Bail in lulls and flatter water, if possible.
Rounding the top mark, you want to have all of the water out so that you can plane off quickly downwind. Also, clear any remaining water out before rounding the bottom mark so you can go fast upwind.
Be prepared to sail & bail the whole way upwind, if necessary.
Practice, practice, practice so that you can keep your focus on sailing the whole time that you bail.
Thanks Fletcher for sharing your technique! Check out more of his videos at his YouTube channel.