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Adult Beginning Sailing

Fall 2022 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.

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!

FALL 2022 CLASSES: Students may choose from one of four Class Sessions with a Swim Test held the Friday evening before each class session (SEE BELOW):

  • REGISTER: Session #1: Saturday-Sunday, Sep. 24-25
  • REGISTER: Session #2: Saturday-Sunday, Oct. 8-9
  • REGISTER: Session #3: Saturday-Sunday, Oct. 22-23
  • REGISTER: Session #4: Saturday-Sunday, Nov. 5-6
  • Make-up Days: TBD
  • More “Tiller Time” Days: TBD

Cost of each 2-day course: $375. Students provide their own US Coast Guard approved PFDs (life jackets). Catalina Capri 14.2 sailboats are provided by ASF.

Here’s how it works. Each class is 2 days, Saturday and Sunday. Classes start with classroom sessions 8am-12pm each morning followed by four hours on-the-water in the afternoon 1pm-5pm.

  • SWIM TESTS will be conducted on Friday evening before each Saturday class. The swim test is held at 6pm at the El Dorado Aquatic Center in south Scottsdale: 2301 N. Miller Road, Scottsdale, AZ 85257 (map). See PFD/Life Jacket requirement information below.
  • CLASSROOM sessions begin at 9:00a.m. and are held in the Vela Apartments conference room at Tempe Town Lake , 555 N College Ave, Tempe, AZ 85281 (map) .
  • ON-THE-WATER sessions are conducted at Tempe Town Lake (map). After the classroom we move to the marina and lake for the remainder with a 45 minute break for lunch and wrap up by 5p.m.

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 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 including: sailing theory, boat handling, tacking, jibing, safety, right-of-way, basic 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 accelerate learning. As you gain confidence and skills, you’ll sail with just one other student. The class curriculum is designed for students 12 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.)

The swim test is conducted 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 are typically quick-dry shorts, T-shirts or “rash guard” shirts, and non-marking canvas shoes.

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

REVIEWS: “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

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