How does anyone learn how to sail an RC boat🤔?

There’s no place like the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry for the talented bunch😝. Instead, you need to eat, sleep, and breathe RC boats to become a pro boater.

But there’s only so much you can do without a learning guide, which is why we’ve made this article for you.

Don’t fret if you just bought your RC boat and need to learn how to sail A-S-A-P. This guide will reveal everything you need to know about RC boat sailing.

If you didn’t buy any – don’t worry. Recently, we’ve made up with the best RC boats on the market for you.

But first, let’s brush up on the controls and channels in an RC boat.

Understanding the controls in an RC boat’s transmitter

The main rc tranmitter buttons.

If you want to become a top RC boater, then you have to know the controls like the back of your hand. Irrespective of the type of transmitter you have, you’ll find the following controls:

  1. Throttle: This accelerates, decelerates, and brakes an RC boat. The throttle has two triggers on a pistol-grip transmitter. Pull the trigger back to move your RC boat forward and push it forward to make it reverse.

The throttle is on the left gimbal of a stick transmitter.

  1. Rudder: This changes the direction (keel) of your RC boat. You can turn the rudder by using the steering wheel on a pistol-grip transmitter or right gimbal on a stick transmitter.

The number of channels your boat has determines if there are other controls available. For example, some multi-channel RC boats allow you to adjust the steering sensitivity and trim.

Sailing your First RC Boat: Step-by-step process

Now that you’re familiar with the controls let’s move on to the exciting bit: how to sail your RC boat!

Step 1: Start your RC boat

We bet you know how to start your RC boat. So, let’s see if you’ve got it right 🙂.

To start an electric RC boat, first put on the transmitter, then the receiver, and blast off🚤. If you have a gas/nitro RC boat, then the starting mechanism is a little different. Usually, you’ll have to pull a recoil starter.

Easy peasy, right? Well, one more thing. Make sure you’re away from the water when you start the boat if you don’t want your legs to freeze☃ or get bitten by a gator🐊.

Step 2: Learn how to turn, maneuver and avoid obstacles

You can start moving at lightning speeds when your RC is up and running. But before you hit on the throttle, let’s show you how to turn and avoid obstacles.

You’ll need the two primary controls to nail this step (rudder and throttle). Use a little of the rudder control to glide while applying the throttle. You can put floating objects on your path when turning feels like watching grass grow.

Once you’re a pro at turning, then the next thing is to learn pivot turns. Pivot turns come in handy when you’re in tight corners.

To master pivot turns, first stop completely. Then shift to reverse using your forward controller trigger. Then use the steering wheel to change the direction of your RC boat. Continue alternating between reversing and stopping your RC until your boat rotates 180 degrees from its original position.

Step 3: Mastering how to take your RC through wakes

Moving your RC through wakes and waves is one of the coolest parts of our learning😎. But if you don’t get it right, your boat could get turned in the wrong direction, or worse capsize like the titanic😖😱!

Ducking and diving is the way to take your RC through wakes. To nail this skill, take your hands off the throttle just before you get to awake. Use the steering to keep the boat steady and moving in the right direction. Then go on the full-throttle once you’re past the wake.

Some racers will create wakes and waves to knock you from getting the top spot. So, you’ll definitely need this skill if you want to go into RC racing.

Step 4: Bringing your boat to a stop

You can’t just stop your RC in the middle of the pond or lake when you’ve had your fun. Why? What if alligators or sharks🦈 are waiting for you to take a step? If getting wet from diving in to bring out your RC boat isn’t something you want to do all the time, then follow these steps:

  1. Sail your boat back to you: The rudder controls are reversed when your boat is heading towards you. So, moving you’re the steering wheel to the left (pistol grip controller) takes the watercraft to the right and vice versa. Your boat might correct this orientation issue automatically for you.
  2. 2. Switch off the receiver then the transmitter: It’s the direct opposite of the steps involved in starting your boat. It doesn’t look like a biggy, but it is! Your evil twin👺 could direct your RC boat from you if theirs works on the same frequency!
  3. Take it out of the water: Be careful not to fall into the water.

Tracking, analyzing and understanding the learning curve

Improve rc boat driving skills.

The practice is one thing that’s gonna turn you into a top RC boater. But you also need to be patient and understand that you can’t learn everything in a day. It should take you a couple of days or a week or two to master how to sail an RC boat. But for racing, you’ll need up to several weeks of practice.

Would you bake cakes in a restaurant without giving someone to taste them🤔? We bet you wouldn’t! So, don’t think you can become a pro boater on your own. Sometimes getting someone’s opinions might be all you need to spot your flaws.

It’s also standard practice to track your learning curve. Keep tabs on how long it takes to complete a lap or sail to a distance. Then try to beat it!

RC boat racing: Tips and guidelines

Racing with your friends or in a competition is totally different from sailing your RC boat alone in the pond. So, here are a couple of tips to help you out when bragging rights are on the table:

  1. Get familiar with the racing course: It’ll still be a fair race even if you’ve practiced sailing your RC boat on the course. You’d want to sail at half-throttle to get really familiar with the route and how to maneuver through buoys.

Another thing you should do is to steer close to the inner line of the course. Then practice your turning. Make sure your boat always moves in a straight line from the first turn to the next.

  1. Practice with others: Next, try to master the course when another boater is driving around you. You’ll find you’d have to navigate through their wakes one time too often if you move too close to the second RC boat. There’s no way you’re going to win the race doing that!

To stay ahead, focus on your boat and only keep an eye on the other boat. But when you’re behind, use the motion of the second boat to your advantage. For example, the second boat might make a sharp turn along the bend to prevent you from overtaking. If this happens, steer wider and apply full throttle to bring your boat head-to-head with it.

Don’t worry if you’re not catching up with the other boat, though. This isn’t the real deal yet.

Use best lines for racing circle.

  1. Use the invisible lanes: You know how some racers pass a shorter distance to get ahead? Well, invisible lanes can help you do that.

An invisible lane is anywhere inside the perimeter of the course. Every boater can take invisible lanes, but there’s one golden rule: Don’t snatch the inside lane (which is the shortest distance) from another boater.

Instead, you can use the invisible lane to shorten the distance it would have taken to get to the left of another RC boat. Then, apply full throttle to overtake.

You definitely need to practice this one. But it’s a skill you’ll always need when racing.

  1. Don’t get penalties: When you eventually start racing, you could get penalized for silly and severe offenses. For example, we know it sounds fun to try, but don’t run into a dead boat😅. Another mistake you should avoid is cutting the lanes from the inside.

These are just some of the common mistakes you shouldn’t make. Every organization has its golden rule book, so you might want to read them before getting into a race.

Using an RC sailboat in heavy winds

All the tips and tricks we’ve mentioned work in freshwaters like ponds, swimming pools, and rivers. In freshwater, learning how to sail an RC sailboat in heavy winds is a different ball game. With the wind coming at you😫 and the waves threatening to sink your boat😢, you might just run back to still waters if you don’t know what to do.

Luckily, we’ve got some tips to help you.

  1. Master how to head up: When you steer your sailboat towards the wind, you’re heading up your RC boat.
  • Start by moving away from the direction of the wind.
  • Then slowly change the direction of the boat, putting it perpendicular to the wind’s direction.
  • Next, start sheeting in. This means pulling the sails of your boat inward. To do this, push the controller’s left gimbal down.
  • Continue trimming the sails until the boat is now facing the wind.
  1. Learn how to bear off: Bearing off is the opposite of heading up. That means, in this case, you’ll be moving your boat away from the wind.
  • Start moving at an angle towards the direction of the wind.
  • Then slowly change the boat’s direction, putting it perpendicular to that of the wind.
  • Next, ease the sheets. This means opening the sails. You can do this by pushing the controller’s left gimbal up.
  1. Tacking your RC boat: The next thing to do is to learn how to tack your boat. Tacking means turning your boat across the direction of the wind (if you think about it, it’s sort of like sneaking away from the wind😚).

Sailing into the wind is a recipe for disaster. So, here’s what you should do instead:

  • First, find out the direction the wind is blowing (the eye of the wind).
  • Take your boat to some distance from this point. If your sails are flapping, then you are in the danger zone. You’d want to start tacking at the point where the sails just stop flapping.
  • Steer the boat from the point where the sails aren’t flapping at about 45 degrees around an arc.

Jibing is the direct opposite of tacking.


Where can I sail an RC boat?

You can sail your RC boat in public waters like rivers, lakes, and ponds. Sailing in a swimming pull is not a bad idea too. Just make sure it is yours.

Saltwater can destroy the electrical components in your RC boat.

How do I flip my RC boat when it rolls over?

There are two ways to do this:

  • Allow the small hole in the hull to fill up with water, if your boat has one. The boat will flip over by itself.
  • Apply the throttle and move the steering wheel left and right until it gets back up.

How fast can an RC boat move?

RC boats can move at 20 mph, and some speedy ones can beat the 40-mph mark.

What should I do if my RC boat dies in the middle of my pond?

Use a fishing hook🎣 or pole to get it out. Never swim into the water to retrieve your boat. The gators might be waiting for you or worse, you could freeze☃!

What should I do before I start sailing my RC boat?

Check the waters for animals or any other thing that can ruin your sailing experience. Then inspect your boat’s hardware to see if everything works before putting it in the water.

In conclusion

We believe you now have everything you need to go out and have fun with your RC boat. Here’s one last tip: stay focused and don’t try to do too much!

Good luck folks!

About the author

David Adeyemo

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