Keelboat Instructor Programs

Basic Keelboat Instructor

This three-day course is an extremely intense evaluation of your ability to teach sailing to the US Sailing Keelboat Certification system standard

This standard is the most rigorous in the country and requires practice, study and preparation by even the most gifted and experienced professional instructors. We are evaluating in great detail everything about your teaching and sailing knowledge, skills and ability.  Please note ;  certified US Sailing instructors can only issue US Sailing student certifications through a certified US Sailing school.


  • Extensive experience sailing and teaching on keelboats.
  • Current US Sailing membership.
  • Minimum Age : Candidates must be  at least 18 years old or turn 18 in the calendar year of the course
  • Current NASBLA Safe Boating Certification  or current USCG full or limited Master’s or OUPV license
  • US Sailing Teaching & Coaching Fundamentals : Developed in conjunction with the US Olympic Committee (USOC), this course gives the building blocks of good instructional practices for becoming an effective educator on and off the water. A guide on how to complete the course can be found here and a few Frequently Asked Questions are answered here.

  • SAFESPORT:  This program, developed by the US Olympic Committee, is required training for all Instructors. This requirement is also being put in place for other National Governing Bodies. This free online training course must be completed every 2 years. Instructor certification is not active unless SafeSport training has been completed.


Three days. Absence from any part of the course will exclude the Instructor Candidate from evaluation.


Demonstrate competency in:
Boathandling, Mooring, Shortening Sail, Docking, Navigation Rules (Rules of the Road), Heave to/Lie to, Marlinspike Seamanship, Aids to Navigation, Overboard Rescue. Instructor Candidates should anticipate singlehanding on a keelboat. In addition to many of the skills listed above, this will include demonstrating competency in sailing off the dock, mooring or slip, tacking, jibing, stopping, reefing, backing the boat and returning to the dock, mooring or slip.

Sailing skills test – BKIC Eval Sample*

Marlinspike Seamanship test – Practical*

  • Demonstrate the ability to tie a Figure 8.
  • Demonstrate the ability to tie a Clove hitch.
  • Demonstrate the ability to tie Two Half hitches.
  • Demonstrate the ability to tie a Bowline.
  • Demonstrate the ability to tie a Sheet bend.
  • Demonstrate the ability to tie a Cleat hitch; there is a ¾ turn around the base. It is finished with a half hitch. The final result is two parallel lines (over the top of the cleat) crossed by one.
  • Demonstrate the ability to tie Square knot (sail lashing).
  • Demonstrate the ability to tie a rolling hitch.
  • Throw a coiled line.

Demonstrative and communication ability – Practical

  • Basic Keelboat Instructor Exam – Written
  • Basic Keelboat Student Exam – Written
  • The Instructor Trainer’s evaluation

Candidates do not need to complete the CPR/First Aid Training in advance of the course, however, certification will NOT be valid unless accompanied by current First Aid and CPR.


All candidates shall submit proof of their ability to swim 50 yards at the course. If a candidate has US Sailing Small Boat Sailing Level 1 Instructor certification or US Sailing Level 1 Windsurfing Instructor certification will suffice as proof. US Sailing will accept swimming certificates issued by the American Red Cross, YMCA, NAUI or PADI. US Sailing will also accept its Proof of Swimming Ability Verification form completed and signed by a swimming instructor certified by the American Red Cross, YMCA, NAUI, PADI, or a lifeguard certified by the American Lifeguard Association or U.S. Lifesaving Association.

**All candidates, who do not meet the criteria above, must bring a completed Swim Verification Form to the course.** This form will be sent with your course paperwork.
*The marlinspike seamanship test will be given to Instructor Candidates by the Instructor Trainer (IT) at the course.


Instructor Candidates will be provided with study questions in advance. These questions can be used for open book studying prior to testing. The actual tests will be closed book. Questions on the Basic Keelboat Instructor Exam are based on the reading material. Practical and written tests each stand on their own. Each test must be passed and each practical skill demonstrated in order to successfully pass the course. The Instructor Trainer determines whether the Instructor Candidate successfully completes the course. Absence from any part of the evaluation session will exclude the Instructor Candidate from evaluation.


Passing: The Instructor Candidate performed all teaching and practical skills to the Instructor Trainers’ satisfaction. The Instructor Candidate passed all written exams. Absence from any portion of the course excludes the Instructor Candidate from evaluation.

Plan of Improvement: The Instructor Candidate has not yet successfully completed what is required and has been given a specific Plan of Improvement to complete. This Plan of Improvement must be satisfied within 90 days from its date of issue.  The responsibility for arranging completion of a Plan of Improvement rests solely with the Instructor Candidate. The Instructor Candidate will get only one chance to pass their Plan of Improvement; should they be unsuccessful in this attempt, they will have failed the course. The fee to complete an “on the water” Plan of Improvement is $75.00. The Instructor Candidate is responsible for any additional expenses.

Failing: Any Instructor Candidate who does not successfully complete any written or practical testing will be failed. The Instructor Candidate, who fails an evaluative course and would still like to become certified US Sailing Instructor, may re-apply for a future course, at full cost, one year from the original course date.

Plan of Completion: US Sailing and US Sailing Instructor Trainers assume no responsibility for lack of wind or other acts of nature. If the Instructor Trainer’s were unable to complete the evaluation, Instructor Candidate’s are issued a Plan of Completion. Arrangements to fulfill the Plan of Completion must be done through the training department within 90 days from its date of its issue. There is no fee for completing a Plan of Completion. The Instructor Candidate is responsible for any additional expenses.

For more information about the Instructor Certification Course, please contact us.