For those who have sailed a time or two and are committed to learning more about our favorite water-based activity, Bennett Marine Video has introduced a practical sail-training DVD that was first produced in New Zealand. Called A Step by Step Guide to the Basics of Sailing with Penny Whiting, this 80-minute movie features well-known New Zealand sailor and instructor, Penny Whiting.

A longtime sailing school owner, Penny has perfected her training course, starting with parts of the boat, knots, and fittings and moving on to bending on the sails, getting underway, and hoisting sail. She covers points of sail, tacking and jibing, reefing the main and hanking on jibs as well as using a furler, handling a man-overboard emergency, and much more.

Penny delivers all these concepts in a simple, matter-of-fact manner and demonstrates how easy it is to learn the skills by having three students aboard her training vessel. These students are learning as she demonstrates sailing skills for them as well as for the audience behind the video camera. This is a good tactic; most new sailors are likely to feel that if these students can learn to tie a bowline, bend on and hoist the main, or tack and jibe, so can they.

One of the nicest parts of Penny’s presentation is that lovely New Zealand accent but, at the same time, because she is from New Zealand her U.S. DVD students are put at a small disadvantage. This is only because her sailing terminology and even her methodology varies to a slight degree from ours. She ties a reef knot when we tie a square knot. Not a problem. But who knew that we’d run a figure-eight-style cleat hitch around a horn cleat differently than they do in New Zealand? Still, sailing is sailing the world over, and Penny is out to increase the number of sailors no matter what country they call home. We’re in favor of that!

I wouldn’t recommend this DVD for someone who is totally unfamiliar with sailing. It’s not a true introductory video; there’s too much detail presented in 80 minutes for the true novice. But I would highly recommend this DVD for someone who has been exposed to sailing and wants to learn more.

A Step by Step Guide to the Basics of Sailing with Penny Whiting by Bennett Marine Video (newly available in the U.S. 2007; 80 minutes)