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Sailing students learn how to properly capsize – and recover – their boat

Capsizing is fun, but righting a turtle is little harder at WWU sailing camp

Students in Western Washington University's junior sailing class learn how to capsize and right their small sailboat on Lake Whatcom.
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Students in Western Washington University's junior sailing class learn how to capsize and right their small sailboat on Lake Whatcom.

Students in a junior sailing class on Lake Whatcom learned an important lesson this week – how to capsize a boat.

It’s not quite like a driver training instructor asking a student to intentionally crash into a tree, but the lesson is an important one if you’re sailing on Northwest waters. Students usually learn the skill on the first or second day of the week-long camp.

“Especially in dinghies, it’s kind of inevitable,” said Ben Kaas, a junior sailing instructor at Western Washington University’s Lakewood facility. “If it doesn’t happen today, it will happen soon. It’s important to know how to right the boat when you do capsize.”

The most difficult recovery is when the boat “turns turtle” – when the boat is fully inverted with the mast underwater, pointed down to the lake bottom.

“If you’re accidentally capsizing, it’s not as much fun,” said Pepper Berry, 12. “But if you’re just jumping off (the boat) and flipping it over ... it’s a lot of fun.”

Philip A. Dwyer: 360-715-2839, @PhilipADwyer

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