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The Beginner's Guide To Sailing

Find a Place To Learn

Between the American Sailing Association and U.S. Sailing, the two main certifying bodies, there are a few hundred sailing schools around the country—even in unexpected places like Oklahoma and Arizona. Beginner’s courses often last two days, so you can find weekend packages. Expect to pay about $500 per person. At higher levels U.S. Sailing emphasizes racing and the ASA pleasure boating, but introductory classes are more or less the same.

Understand What’s Happening

Sailing is rich with jargon, tradition, and lore. You’ll better absorb the complexities if you know the basics ahead of time. A sail full of wind forms an airfoil and propels the boat with lift, the way a plane’s wing does (except across water, rather than into the air). The work of sailing is to position, or trim, the sails to maximize lift in the direction you want to go.

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