PUBLISHED : Saturday, 06 September, 2003, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 06 September, 2003, 12:00am

Welcome to Full Ahead, our trial run at a boating column. We start by asking how we can get on the water without spending a bomb. Easy, says Lindsay Lyons, promotions officer for the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club (RHKYC). 'Every boat needs a certain number of crew to race efficiently and in Hong Kong racing, the number of boats often outstrips the available supply of crew,' she tells Full Ahead. 'You don't need to own a boat to sail. Even with limited sailing experience, it is relatively easy to find a skipper willing to take you on as crew providing you don't mind being told what to do - sometimes at a high level of decibels.' If you crew regularly for the same skipper you will quickly learn the ropes, Lyons says. Yes, but Hong Kong people can be shy, and we had to ask whether the club has a 'slave market', where old sea-dogs bid for the biggest biceps. Lyons says a 'Crew Available' board is positioned outside the Main Bar from 11.30am on Saturdays until next May; simply sign up and if a skipper is short of crew, he or she will come looking for you. E-mail your sailing CV to llyons@rhkyc.org.hk.

Skippers, however might prefer crew with more formal training. The Aberdeen Boat Club runs sailing courses ($2,500 for non-members and $2,000 for members) consisting of 'five full-day sessions and covers both theory and practical aspects of dinghy sailing and is designed to teach a beginner to be capable of sailing the Club's Toppers, Enterprise and Pico dinghies', the club's commodore, Jon Zinke, tells Full Ahead. He says the cost includes dinghy hire, equipment, tuition and a log book. For details, call 2555 6216. The RHKYC runs extensive training programmes for adults and children at its Middle Island sailing centre near Repulse Bay. Full details on www.rhkyc.org.hk/sailing/training.htm. If you are only interested in crewing on 'big boats', RHKYC runs a one-day introduction to Cruiser sailing, or a five-day Competent Crew course via www.yachtingventures.com.

Future events include the ABC Sunseeker Opening Regatta, which marks the start of Hong Kong's sailing season with up to 80 boats tomorrow. Alternatively, you can watch the Nautica Autumn Regatta in Victoria Harbour, where about 80 to 100 boats will compete in three races over two days. The Cruiser Owners Association (COA) will hold its popular Macau series on September 27. Then comes some serious stuff in China Coast Race Week, between October 31 to November 7. Full Ahead learns the event consists of the China Coast Regatta, two day's Cruiser racing for about 40 entrants, plus the Around The Island Race (left) on November 2, in which 200 vessels of all classes will race around Hong Kong Island against each other on handicap. There is also the Hainan Race, a 355 nautical-mile Category 1 offshore race to Hainan on November 4. Full Ahead would love to hear from any race crews.

We'll be back on October 4. Please e-mail any yarns, sea gripes and Hong Kong junk trip anchorages to avoid to william.wadsworth@scmp.com