Lesson 1

Super Sails! - Lesson 1

Topic: Introduction to Sailboats


Teacher Resources:

Printable PDF Version of this Lesson Plan

Downloadable PPT of Lesson (12.5MB PPTX)

Lesson 1 Handout - Sailboat Parts Identification Exercise (1MB PDF)


image from lesson 1 Click here to launch PowerPoint for Lesson 1

Primary Goal :

A basic introduction to the sailboat and the excitement of sailing and the science behind it. Students should be able to identify the parts of a sailboat and familiarize themselves with some of the terminology that will be used throughout the course.

Lesson Objectives :

  • Ability to identify fundamental parts of a sailboat

  • Introduction to boat terminology used throughout the course

  • Know that while sailboat designs differ greatly, most of the fundamentals are the same.

Lesson Outline :

  1. Let's Go Sailing!
    1. Here is a great 6-minute YouTube™ video compilation that should get students revved up:



  2. The Language of Sailing
    1. When looking at the many pictures of all the different types of sailboats, students may become overwhelmed
    2. It is important to emphasize that although boat designs may differ greatly, most of the fundamental elements are the same
    3. Show the slide with the 7 boats and ask the students to identify the similarities/differences
      1. Not only will this get the students engaged, but it will make them aware that they don’t know the boat terminology
    4. Learning boat terminology is like learning a new language à critical for communication

  3. Identify the Parts of a Sailboat
    1. Hull – the foundation of the boat that makes it a seagoing vessel
      1. Bow, Stern, Port, Starboard
      2. Fiberglass, wood, metal
    2. The Rig – the structures coming up from the hull that support the sails
      1. Mast, Boom, Forestay, Backstay, Shrouds
      2. Explain the importance of supporting the mast
    3. Running Rigging – all the gear and lines used to raise and trim the sails
      1. Halyards, Sheets
    4. Sails – how a boat generates speed
      1. Mainsail, Jib, Spinnaker
      2. Parts of the Sail: Luff, Leech, Foot
    5. Underwater Appendages
      1. Rudder, Keel

Supplemental Resources :

School of Sailing Glossary: http://www.schoolofsailing.net/terminology.html

US Sailing Video: Parts of a Boat : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vZ6O8lB0cII

Additional Sailing Videos

  1. “The Physics of Sailing” – KQED Quest (9:31 min) Uploaded on Oct 1, 2008 Northern California has a storied, 500-year history of sailing. But despite this rich heritage, scientists and boat designers continue to learn more each day about what makes a sail boat move. Contrary to what you might expect, the physics of sailing still present some mysteries to modern sailors.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yqwb4HIrORM

  2. “Beginners Guide to Sailing” – Yeadon Sailing Club (9:57 min) Published on Feb 19, 2014 This is a basic beginners guide to how boats sail, parts of a boat, points of sail and a triangular course. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b477nzyJum0

  3. “Trimming Your Sails – The Basics” – Mike Sans (Part 1) (8:06 min) Published on Jan 14, 2013
    From website: http://www.onthehelm.com An introduction into sail trimming. Part 1 gives the basics. Get some great tips, learn the theory and see the guys in action.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TttqFylquFs

  4. “Trimming Your Sails – The Genoa” – Mike Sans (Part 2) (8:01 min) Published on Jan 14, 2013
    From website: http://www.onthehelm.com This is the second lesson in sail trimming. This lesson covers how to get the best out of your genoa headsail.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QyOIeVl1meY

  5. 5. “Trimming Your Sails – The Mainsail” – Mike Sans (Part 3) (8:06 min) Published on Jan 15, 2013
    From website: http://www.onthehelm.com In part 3 of this series we learn how to trim the mainsail and keep in the groove. If you are interested in things nautical then why not visit our members website and join in the fun, we welcome people who have something to offer the great sport of sailing and boating. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L0IvU59u5Vg

  6. “Trimming Your Sails – The Spinnaker” – Mike Sans (Part 4) ( 7:17 min) Published on Jan 15, 2013
    From website http://www.onthehelm.com This is the final part in this four-part series of instructional videos on how to trim your sails and get the best from your yacht. If you are interested in things nautical then why not visit our members website and join in the fun, we need people who have something to offer the great sport of sailing and boating.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uBcq3PSKFRw

Exercises/Activities :

If you have access to boat models, bring them in and allow the students to take turns identifying the parts of the sailboat. It will be good to provide them with a list of all the items covered during the course.

Separate the students into groups and create a competition using both the sailboat part identification and definitions (Sailboat Jeopardy works well).

Next Lesson


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