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How common are hand injuries in sailing?

by Jay


I am sending my 14 year-old son to a reputable sailing school for a week this summer to learn how to sail. I have a question that's probably going to seem overprotective, but here goes...

My son is a violinist and really loves to play and even though I love and respect his love of music, I also feel he should get out in the air and learn respect for nature. I am concerned that my motherly impulse to make him "go outside and enjoy the beautiful day" might endanger his ability to play the violin. Can anyone give me a sense of how common hand injuries are?

I will certainly get him a pair of good sailing gloves, I just want an idea of the average risk. I don't mind some risk, I mean what's life without a little adventure? I just don't want to jeopardize what he loves.

Any response would be appreciated.


Serious hand injuries are not at all common and made even less common by wearing sailing gloves.

The main issue when sailing is rope burn, which can leave a nasty scratch, but is not in any way serious and is prevented by wearing sailing gloves.

Even so, you should expect some scratches or even cuts, just like you would from any other physical sport from hitting his legs on the boat or forgetting to duck beneath the boom when tacking or gybing.

He should be fine, but make sure he understands the safety aspects of sailing, which should be taught at any reputable sailing school.

Best regards,
Alex Dotsch

Comments for How common are hand injuries in sailing?

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May 25, 2011
Apart from possible burns and bumps...
by: Han

Hi Jay,

Alex is right in his remarks, but from long experience in teaching I would like to add an important possibility to hurt hand and/or foot: when holding off other boats or when docking, to prevent damage to the boat. Unexperienced kids don't yet know the kinetic energy of a boat even when the speed is slow, so they tend to hold off by hand or foot. A good instructor will keep a wary eye on this behaviour, but prepare your son for that anyway.

I wish him a nice sailing summer and congratulate him with his sensible mother.



May 25, 2011
by: Jay

Thank you Alex & Han!

I will send him sailing with confidence now. I'm certainly okay with scrapes and bruises and that's kind of what I expected, but I wasn't sure. It sounds like he just has to exercise common sense, he's a solid kid, and the school has a good reputation, so I won't worry a bit.


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