Kids’ Introduction to Sailing


The nonprofit Arizona Sailing Foundation is the only school in Arizona teaching kids to sail. We provide Optimist sailboats and US Sailing-certified instructors—and maximum fun.

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Fall 2019 class dates: Saturday-Sunday, September 28-29 & October 12-13. Saturday and Sunday mornings from 8:30-12:30 at Tempe Town Lake marina. Maximum class size = ten. Students provide their own PFDs.

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

Focus is on sailing fun, learning the basics—safety on the water and making the boat go where you want it to.

Ages 8-12 are welcome with no experience required. On-shore sessions are brief and then students are on the water sailing in an Optimist dinghy. Total class time is four hours per day, including preparation, rigging, sailing, de-rigging, post-sailing snacks and hydration.

The first goals are to learn how make the boat move, to control boat direction, to sail comfortably in wind up to 10-15 mph, and to understand boating safety techniques. 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 or High School Sailing.

About the class: Optimist boats will be provided by ASF. The teacher is a US Sailing Certified Small Boat Instructor who has assistance from parents and from kids that have been through the ASF program. The class is for kids 8-12 and no experience is required. Class size is limited to 10.

You’ll need to provide your own PFD (life jacket). Everyone will take a very simple swim test in the lake at the start of class to make sure they’re comfortable in the water.

All ASF US Sailing certified instructors are required to pass US Sailing SafeSport training. ASF and US Sailing have zero tolerance for abuse and misconduct.

Chief instructor Joel Hurley

Cost for the class is $210/student.

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

Email for further information or call 602.679.0462

Getting to Tempe Town Lake

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.

A little personal coaching from the safety boat on Tempe Town Lake. Photo: Mike Ferring

A little personal coaching from the safety boat on Tempe Town Lake. Photo: Mike Ferring

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

Learning to sail with the Arizona Sailing Foundation. 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

Ema Davis helps out with the Opti class. Photo: Mike Ferring

Ema Davis helps out with the Opti class. Photo: Mike Ferring