Kids’ Introduction to Sailing

Learning to sail with the Arizona Sailing Foundation. Photo: Mike Ferring
Learning to sail with the Arizona Sailing Foundation. Photo: Mike Ferring

The nonprofit Arizona Sailing Foundation is the only school in Arizona teaching kids to sail. This class is intended for children 8 to 12 years old with no prior sailing experience. Kids Introduction to Sailing builds the skills and confidence needed to successfully rig, launch, sail, and put away an Optimist “Opti” sailboat. Students will single-hand, meaning they will sail the boat alone, on day one. Many students take the classes more than once to continue building their skill and confidence.

ASF provides Optimist Dinghy sailboats, US Sailing certified instructors, safety boats…and maximum fun. Students provide their own PFDs and optional helmets.

Lead Instructors are supported by volunteers, parents and kids that have been through the ASF program. Class size is limited to 12. All ASF Lead Instructors are US Sailing certified and are required to pass US Sailing SafeSport training. ASF and US Sailing have zero tolerance for misconduct.

CLASS FORMAT & SCHEDULES: Classes are held January-April & September-December annually. Each class session consists of FOUR half-days spread over two weekends of Saturday & Sunday Each class runs from 8:30a.m.-12:30 p.m. at Tempe Town Lake North Shore Marina.

COST: $210 per student.

PFDs / LIFE JACKETS: Students need to provide their own PFD (life jacket) and optional helmet.

Upcoming Class Schedule:

Presley and Page: new Opti friends. Photo: Scott Kappel

The focus is on sailing fun, and learning the basics: safety on the water and making the boat go where you want it to. On-shore sessions are brief and then students are on the water sailing. Total class time is four hours daily, including preparation, rigging, sailing, de-rigging, and post-sailing snacks and hydration.

Objectives include learning how to make the boat move, control boat direction, understanding safe boating techniques to sail comfortably in wind up to 10-15 mph . Students are welcome to take this class multiple times until they feel they have the skills and confidence to move up to MORE Junior Sailing and Racing or High School Sailing.

SWIM TEST: Everyone must take a very simple swim test in the lake at the start of class to make sure they’re comfortable in the water, and remember; students need to bring their own PFD.

FAMILY FUN! This is a family-friendly class and you are encouraged to bring siblings and friends to join in the afternoon picnic atmosphere during the SHORE portions of the class, including rigging/launching, boat preparation, and work at the docks. Only enrolled students are allowed on the water.

Classes overlap with ASF Adult Learn to Sail classes for a fun-filled afternoon of Tempe Town Lake sailing.

Here’s a cool video showing how one girl sails in an Opti program at her club.

Click here for information about getting to Tempe Town Lake

AYC Member Scholarship
And remember, AYC Members may be able to receive a $50 scholarship for a child to attend an ASF Junior class. Fill out this form, attach a written paragraph or drawing and return it to the AYC Commodore for consideration. Like to see a successful application? Here’s a great one from 2012 by Isabel Love and from Ryan Zornik in 2017.

QUESTIONS??? Call or text (480) 269-2699 or email

A little personal coaching from the safety boat on Tempe Town Lake. Photo: Mike Ferring
A little personal coaching from the safety boat on TTL. Photo: Mike Ferring
Here's how to tie a square knot. Photo: Mike Ferring
Here’s how to tie a square knot. Photo: Mike Ferring