Learn to sail in Arizona. Sailing classes for adults in fall and spring each year from the nonprofit Arizona Sailing Foundation.
Spring Class dates: Swim Test, Friday, February 22; Class dates, all Saturdays, February 23, March 9, March 23, March 30, with possible weather make-up day April 13.
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 this four-Saturday 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. Students will then have the option of crewing on one of the boats racing in the AYC Tall Cactus regatta or Governor’s Cup regatta.
Classroom: 9:30am until noon followed by on-the-water the same afternoon 1pm-5pm.
Cost of the four-class course: $375. Maximum class size = 20. Students provide their own PFDs.
- The swim test was conducted on Friday evening, February 22, at 6pm at the El Dorado Aquatic Center in south Scottsdale: 2301 N. Miller Road, Scottsdale, AZ 85257 (map). There’s more information on the test below.
- Classroom sessions are in Tempe at the Red Lion Inn & Suites, a little north of the 202 on Scottsdale Road (map), beginning Saturdays at 9:30 am. The meeting room is on the second floor.
- On-the-water sessions are conducted at Tempe Town Lake. 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.
At the end of your class, you’ll know the basics of how to sail and be ready to practice what you’ve learned. Some of those things are: 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 coach 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 (“life jacket”). 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 recharge of the inflation system each time you use it. (Here’s some further PFD information from REI.)
The swim test is conducted in the evening in a heated swimming pool the evening before the class begins. You’ll swim without your PFD and then put it on and swim some more in sailing clothes. 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. What are sailing clothes? In Arizona, those can be shorts, T-shirt, and shoes.
Questions: E-Mail Mike Ferring
“Thanks for the fantastic ending to a great course,” writes graduate Jake Thornton after sailing with the Ferrings during the Governor’s Cup. “We finished in second place! The day out on the lake was truly the grand finale of the class. Thanks for teaching me the ropes and showing me the full sailing experience.”
“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
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