Adult Beginning Sailing

SPRING 2023 Classes

Learn to sail in Arizona in sailing classes for adults in the fall and spring each year from the non-profit Arizona Sailing Foundation. Cost: $375.00

Take a look at that picture. Look like fun? We sure think it is, and it’s easier than you might think. In the space of two days of classroom and on-the-water instruction, you’ll learn the basics of sailing, a foundation to build on whether you plan on cruising to the Virgin Islands or sailing at Lake Pleasant or in SoCal. You’ll actually sail on the first day of class!

SPRING 2023 CLASSES: Students may choose from one of the available Class Sessions (SEE BELOW). **NOTE: Students MUST COMPLETE THE US Sailing “swimming/water comfort test” prior to their class.

  • SWIM TEST: El Dorado Aquatic Center, Scottsdale, HERE.
    • Completed: Session #1: Saturday-Sunday, Feb. 4-5
    • Completed: Session #2: Saturday-Sunday, March 11-12
    • REGISTER Session #3: Saturday-Sunday, April 1-2
    • Make-up Days: TBD
  • More “Tiller Time” Days: TBD

Here’s how it works. Each class is for two days, Saturday and Sunday. Each day the class starts indoors with classroom theory sessions 8:45 am-12 pm, followed by four hours on the water in the afternoon 1 pm-5 pm.

  • SWIM TESTS are required by US Sailing. Click HERE to see the requirements. The test is very, very simple and can be performed with ASF if noted in the schedule above or individually at a public pool or fitness center pool of your choice with a certified lifeguard, etc., attesting to your completion of the Swim Test.

    If you do not complete this test prior to the first class, it must be completed in Tempe Town Lake at class time, but that is NOT the preferred method.

    NOTE: US Sailing also accepts swimming certificates issued by American Red Cross, YMCA, NAUI or PADI. 

    STUDENT WEIGHT CONSIDERATIONS: The swim test requires participants to perform an unaided exit from the pool over the pool curbing while fully dressed in sailing clothes. This task simulates “Capsize Recovery” in a small boat. Participants over 225 lbs are strongly encouraged to take an introductory KEEL BOAT sailing class. See Adult Sailing What’s Next for keelboat class recommendations.
  • CLASSROOM sessions are held in the Vela Apartments conference room at Tempe Town Lake, 555 N College Ave, Tempe, AZ 85281 (map) and look for the Arizona Sailing Foundation directions signs.
  • ON-THE-WATER sessions are conducted at Tempe Town Lake (map).

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 Capri 14.2s, which easily holds two to three people.

At the end of your class, you’ll know the basics of sailing and be ready to practice what you’ve learned: sailing theory, boat handling, tacking, jibing, safety, right-of-way, basic knots, and docking.

INSTRUCTORS: The principal instructors are US Sailing certified. During the first on-the-water class we typically assign one coach to each student boat to accelerate learning. You’ll sail with just one other student as you gain confidence and skills. The class curriculum is designed for students 18 years old and up and our ASF Adult class participants average 36 years of age. We’ve even had students in their 70s.

PFDs (“life jackets”): You’ll need to provide your own US Coast Guard-approved Personal Floatation Device (“life jacket”). Select a life jacket that is in good condition, fits well, and allows you to move freely. Kayaking and “Dinghy” PFDs are excellent choices. We don’t advise an inflatable-style vest for this class because you WILL be in the water, possibly requiring an expensive recharge of the inflation system each time you use it.
(Here’s some PFD information from REI.)

Clothing to Wear: You will get wet and be in the lake for some of the practical skill training. Be sure to wear quick-dry shorts, T-shirts or “rash guard” shirts, and non-marking canvas shoes, and bring a change of clothes for after you go “swimming.”

Call or text (480) 269-2699 or send an email to

REVIEWS from Adult Beginning Sailing Graduates:

“Thanks for the fantastic ending to a great course. Thanks for teaching me the ropes and showing me the full sailing experience.” —Jake T.

“We thought this class was AWESOME! Every volunteer was helpful, fun, funny, and really a great coach to the newbies, which I admired.” —Vikki & Jason M.

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