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Boatshop24 - Learn to Sail : Sailing basics with Alex - Episode 2/6

Learn to sail graphic
Right, it is time for the second video in the series. This time out we see Team GB sailor Alex Mills Barton take his boat out onto the water for the first time. 
He takes the guys from Mailspeed Marine and BoatShop24 through some basic sailing techniques, jibes and tacks and also some straight-line sailing. 
On top of the sailing tips, the guys also chat to Alex about his weekly routine, his diet, and how he has to adapt when training.
Jack: Hi. I'm Jack Stonehouse from Boatshop 24.
Balaz: and I'm Balazs Jarai from Mailspeed Marine. 
Jack: And you join us today in Sussex with Alex Mills-Barton, a 2016 GB Sailing hopeful. And he's hopefully going to teach us how to sail in a day.
Alex: OK, So we're all wetsuited up, ready to go. So what we'll do, we'll just back the boat in and let it slide off the back of the trailer. Nice and easy.
So that's the dagger board in. Get the rudder down in and we can jump off.
So as I said before, the main sheet in the middle, is the main control of the sail. When you're going into the wind you pull it in, all the way. And when you're going with the wind, you let it out so it's parallel to the wind, and it catches the most wind as possible.
We're going downwind now, so with the wind. It tends to be the quickest leg of the course. So, the sail's up and all the controls go off, so we get some shape in the sail. It just gives a bit more power. What we're going to do now is a gybe, which is one of the simple maneuvers that needs to be done. We need that to go around the marks. And this is a tack, so, when we're going into the wind. Because we can't go directly into the wind. We have to zigzag up the course, when going into it, so the sail gets filled. 
Balaz: So, what is a sort of normal week during your kind of competition and training periods involve for you?
Balazs: Well, it completely depends on the time of the year. So, basically from, usually, October to early March it's just training. It's kind of off-season time. So, it's more training, probably in Weymouth quite a bit. Hopefully abroad. If you've got enough money. So that'll be in terms of fitness-wise, longer, longer sessions. So, anywhere between 90 minutes and two hours.
Balazs: Training everyday, or...?
Alex: Uh, yeah, well, pretty much. So three or four of them every week. That'd be like cycling or running or rowing. And then two or three times in the gym lifting weights as well.
Balaz: OK. Cool.
Alex: The season usually runs from March 'til early September. And so during that it'll be interval stuff for aerobics side of things. And probably two or three of those and then maybe a long one as well. And then two or three gym sessions, like lifting weights. But actually, during the competitions, it kind of all gets cut off really. So, we'll go sailing. An that's most of the day, basically. And then, usually what we tend to do is just go for like an easy bike ride and go for a half an hour. And just, like, let the body get rid of the lactic acid. Have a good stretch and recovery. And, so that kind of, that's during the competitions. Then outside it's more intense, and..
Balaz: Yeah. Training everyday.
Alex: Yeah. And, a lot of time training on the water still, obviously.
Balazs: As you can see we're constantly changing and adjusting the settings to give the boat the best setup and allow the wind to go over the sail the best. And then once we go back downwind we let them back up again. So, we'll just do a couple of gybes to show you what they are. And that's when the wind, the sail crosses the boat on the windward side, rather than heading through the wind.
When the wind picks up, we have to do what we call hiking, which is this, now. And that's when you lean out the boat and it gives you more force against the sail, so you can keep the boat flat. You just keep your feet under the toe strap in the middle and lean your body up.
Balaz: It just sounds like you obviously have a strenuous training regime. What kind of other personal changes do you have to make, in terms of your diet, for example, during your training program?
Alex: It's not too particular. Personally, I find that unless my diet's really good, so like, eating a lot of fruit and vegetables, then I tend to get ill a lot.
Balaz: Oh. Really?
Balazs: So, I have to personally put quite a lot of effort into it. Apart from that, I mean, the rest of it's just commitment and dedication and not, kind of, knowing that you're leading a normal life, so you can't do all the normal stuff, like going out all the time. But, it's not too strict. 
And the other, the third leg of the course, normally on an Olympic trapezoid course is called a Reach. And this is when you slide onto of the wind. And these are usually the quickest legs because the sail's working most efficiently. 
And you can just go back and forth against the wind, without really losing any position upwind or downwind. 
And on the Reach, you need the sail about 45 degrees to the wind direction on the boat.
So, constantly changing the sail shape and set up with the main sheet and other controls. And just looking around for the next wind shift and next bit of wind increase. And those are the things that make the biggest differences when racing. If you can get those right, then you're onto a winner. As all these boats are exactly the same, so it's all down to the sailor to get the best out of it.