Just wanted to address this. With the right dinghy for learning in (a stable one) it doesn't take much attention at all to balance it just so, and on a decent course your first efforts will be accompanied by an instructor who will take care of it while you get to grips with the mechanics of making the boat move and turn.
Originally Posted by William_H
Also, capsizing a dinghy is only discouraging if you see capsizing as a failure. It isn't - especially not when learning. Getting them back up again is a piece of cake, especially if you learn to do it properly; which - again - a decent course will teach. You can see capsizing as a failure or as part of learning what effect poor sail trim and course steering have without the consequences they can have on a big boat... and most beginners I've seen on an Level 1 or 2 course don't capsize until their capsize drill. (I used to sail at a training centre, so I've seen quite a lot.)
Everything... tacking, gybing, sail handling and so on is far, far easier on a dinghy than on a bigger boat and most of the skills learned in the first couple of days on a dinghy will transfer almost seamlessly to a bigger boat.
Of course, there will always be disagreement about the best way to learn the basics.
As I see it, you need to be on a big boat to learn some of the elements of big boat sailing, but I think the basic mechanics of sails, steering and so on are easier to learn in a dinghy than on a yacht.
With less weight to move (both in sails and in boat weight) actions on a dinghy are smaller, easier and have more immediate effects.
Once the basic concepts have been learned, I think the process of learning to handle a yacht is made easier with the "how it works" bit already learned.
Besides - all the best sailors start in dinghies.
Blithe Spirit - Lark 1804.