Introduction to Sailboat Racing

The next class will be fall of 2014. If you’re interested, please contact Mike Ferring.

Racing a sailboat is a kick. It combines the fun of sailing your boat with the raw competition of trying to beat someone else in a similar boat. Racing also teaches you boat handling and sail trim in a way that no amount of cruising could—by comparing your speed and handling side-by-side with other boats.

True, the first time you see a sailboat race, you may think it’s too complicated and chaotic (it can be both). But like anything else new, you can grow into it step-by-step. This is designed to let you take a bunch of steps all at once.

“I enjoyed it and learned a ton! You guys make great instructors.” — Ryan Kroelinger, 2013 Introduction to Sailboat Racing student.

Who should take the class: Anyone who would like to sharpen sailing skills or sink your teeth into the excitement of sailboat racing. Even if you’ve raced before, you’ll learn a lot of new things about rules, tactics and procedures. Even if you only intend to crew or simply want to understand the game, you’re welcome in this class.

Class description: As a graduate, you’ll be qualified to drive or crew an adopted AYC club boat or your own dinghy or centerboard/keel boat in around-the-buoys lake racing. You’ll learn race procedures, rules, and tactics. You’ll compete in actual races. And you’ll receive up to $50 off the entry fee for your first AYC race series (within the first year after graduation).

Course Content Includes:

  • Race Procedures: Race Documents, Entry, Check-in, Starts, Courses, Finish, Scoring, Race Committee Responsibilities, Protests
  • Rules: Understanding the Racing Rules of Sailing 2013-2016, including when boats meet, complying with race procedures, and avoiding incidents
  • Tactics: Starts, Upwind Tactics, Downwind Tactics, Mark Roundings, Wind Shifts, and Finishes

Because of limited time, the class can not include sections on making your boat go faster or on boat-handling, both of which are essential to winning races. But we can help.

Class meetings: Two classroom sessions followed immediately the same days by on-the-water sessions. The classroom sessions will be at a Tempe meeting room; the on-the-water sessions will be at Tempe Town Lake. Details will be sent to you in the week before the first session.

Sailboats racing at Tempe Town LakePrerequisites: You must be a certified US Sailing graduate of Start Sailing Right or have equivalent experience. You’ll need to enter the course with the basic skills to handle a Capri 14.2 in moderate wind.

Equipment: Normal sailing stuff (shorts, shirt, hat, closed-toed shoes, sunglasses, sunscreen, water), including a PFD (though a simple orange one can be provided) and a watch that shows seconds.

Directions: Getting to Tempe Town Lake

Tuition: $195 (which includes a $50 discount coupon for AYC race series entry)

Instructors: Mike and Maryellen Ferring, both US Sailing Small Boat Instructors, originated the course and have taught it for about seven years. Mike is also a certified powerboat instructor and has been a US Sailing-certified club race officer. They race a C14 at Tempe Town Lake and a J/80 at Lake Pleasant. They’ve won the Sport Boat fleet championship and before that won four out of the previous five PHRF Non-Spin season championships and a C14 fleet championship. In addition, the classes have always had on-the-water instruction from that year’s reigning AYC Club Champion. For the fall 2013 class, the club champion was Santana 20 and C14 racer Martin Lorch, who guided the students.

Introduction to Sailboat Racing Instructor Mike FerringContact Instructor Mike Ferring by email



Arizona Sailing Foundation