Adults’ Learn to Sail

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Take a look at that picture to the right. Look like fun? We sure think it is and it’s easier than you might think. In the space of this single four-day class you’ll learn the basics of sailing, a foundation to build on whether you’re racing fast sailboats or chartering in the British Virgin Islands. You’ll actually sail on the first day of class!

Here’s how it works. There are four Saturday classroom meetings of 2½ hours each followed the same day by four on-the-water classes of four hours each.

Our next class will begin in the fall of 2015. Dates for the Spring 2015 classes are: Feb 27 (swim test), Feb 28, Mar 14, Mar 28 (cancelled because of lake conflict), Apr 11, and make-up day April 18.

  • The swim test was conducted on Friday evening (Feb 28) at the El Dorado Aquatic Center in south Scottsdale: 2301 N. Miller Road, Scottsdale, AZ 85257.  See Map. There’s more information on the test below.
  • Classroom sessions are at a meeting room in the Tempe Police Apache Substation, 1855 E. Apache Blvd. Tempe, AZ 85281.  See a Map. Classes begin at 9:30 am.
  • On-the-water sessions are conducted at Tempe Town Lake, starting at the Marina. Here’s how to get there. After the classroom in the morning, you’ll  have a little time for lunch before sailing begins at 1 pm.

Included in the class: your copy of the US Sailing Learn Sailing Right book and sailing skills sign-off booklet−The Little Red Book. This class gives you the opportunity to begin working on getting signed off for your US Sailing Small Boat certification. Beginning Sailing students sail in Catalina (also called Capri) 14.2s, which hold two or three people. The price for the complete class is $350.

At the end of your class, you’ll know how to sail and be ready to practice what you’ve learned in our Sailing Skills Development course or by sailing your own small boat. Some of the things you’ll learn: sailing theory, boat handling, tacking, jibing, safety, right-of-way, knots, and docking.

The principal instructors are US Sailing certified. During the first on-the-water class we normally assign one instructor to each student boat to speed understanding. As you gain confidence and skills, you’ll sail with just one other student. Classes are designed for ages 12 and older. Classes average 36 years of age, and we’ve had students in their 70s.

You’ll need to provide your own PFD (type III “life jacket”) and you’ll need to demonstrate that you can swim 50 yards in sailing clothes. The main point: make sure it fits and allows you to move freely. We don’t advise an inflatable-style vest for this class because you’ll be in the water, requiring an expensive re-charge of the inflation system each time you use it. What are sailing clothes? In Arizona, those can be shorts, T-shirt, and shoes.

The swim test is conducted in the evening in a heated, swimming pool in Scottsdale a day or two before the class begins. You’ll swim without your PFD and then put it on and swim some more. Any stroke is acceptable, since we’re really trying to make sure you can keep your head above water if you find yourself in the lake.

Questions: E-Mail Rob Gibbs

“I thought this class was AWESOME! Every volunteer was helpful, fun, funny, and really a great coach to the newbees, which I admired.” —Vikki & Jason Majors, Beginning Sailing graduates



For the first class or two, you’ll sail with a coach on the boat. These students are working with US Sailing Instructor Emory Heisler. Photo: Rob Gibbs


As you become more confident in your sailing, you'll handle the boat with just one other student. Photo: Rob Gibbs

As you become more confident in your sailing, you’ll handle the boat with just one other student. Photo: Rob Gibbs

1855 E. Apache Blvd. Tempe, AZ 85281