Small Boat Instructor Programs

US Sailing offers courses for sailing counselors, instructors and coaches at varying levels of expertise. Courses are hosted by boating programs across the nation, year-round. Each level provides a structured progression and offers opportunities for advancement. With the development of two different tracks (management and coaching), it provides opportunities for continuing education and professional development.


SSInstrBk/Who Should take this course: Anyone involved with a Camp Counseling, Sailing, or Scouting program.Prerequisites: Basic Sailing experience. Must turn 14 within the calendar year Course length: 2 days, 20 hours.

Texts used: Learn Sailing Right! Beginner Sailing, Sailing Smart Activity Book, Sailing Smart Instructor’s Guide (includes Reach Educator Guide-Module 6), Little Red Book and Sailing Counselor Booklet (includes Risk Management PDF).

Course Overview: The Sailing Counselor course prepares participants to supervise small boat recreational sailing activities typically conducted on sheltered and protected waters. The emphasis is on safety and hands-on practice to familiarize candidates with proper terminology and boating techniques. Sailing Counselor training will also provide a model for how a counselor might structure actual sailing activities.While this course does not offer a certification, if does offer a detailed training to help Counselors teach sailing. This course is highly recommended for those who intend to seek Level 1 Small Boat Instructor certification. Learn More.


LSR-Beg/Who should take this course: Anyone interested in teaching beginner level sailors.Prerequisites: Must turn 16 in the calendar year & hold NASBLA Approved Boating Certificate Course length: 4 days, 40 hours

Texts used: Smallboat Instructor Guide (includes Learn Sailing Right-Beginner!), Learn Sailing Right-Intermediate!, Teaching Fundamentals for Sailing Instructors & Basic Powerboat Safety & Rescue

Course overview: Designed to provide sailing instructors with information on how to teach more safely, effectively, and creatively. Topics covered in the course include: classroom and on-the-water teaching techniques, risk management, safety issues, lesson planning, creative activities, ethical concerns, and sports physiology and psychology. Learn More.

PLEASE NOTE: US Sailing has developed an online platform that allows 50% of the Small Boat Level 1 course content to be delivered online. The online portion occurs over ten (10) days. After completing the online portion, students will need to complete a two-day, in-person, section to complete the course.


LSRWho should take this course: Second year instructors Prerequisites: Current Level 1 Certification. Must wait 9 months after initial Level 1 certification. Course Length: 2 days, 16 hours

Texts used: Smallboat Instructor Guide- Level 2, Learn Sailing Right-Intermediate, Level 2 Workbook, Safety Rescue and Support Boat Handling, Teaching Fundamentals for Sailing Instructors

Course overview: Focuses on developing knowledge and skill in teaching sail theory, sail controls, introductory management skills, spinnaker and trapeze use (and instruction) and powerboat operation for emergency situations. Safety awareness is a major component of this course, with instruction on how to address capsize recovery, or prevent entrapment while operating a powerboat. Learn More.


LevelWho should take this course: New and Intermediate level coaches Prerequisites: Level 1 & 2 Instructor Certification Course Length: 2 days, 16 hours

Texts used: Level 3 Coach Course Workbook, Racing Rules of Sailing, Sailing Drills Made Easy

Course overview: The foundation course of US Sailing’s coach training program, the Level 3 course provides coaches with information on how to effectively develop performance boat handling and racing skills and instill in athletes the importance of ethical behavior and sportsmanship in the sport of sailing. Topics include race management procedures, team management and logistics and drills. Learn More.


LevelWho should take this course: Head Instructors, individuals who have on water management responsibilities, Jr. Committee Chairs. Prerequisite: Level 2 Instructor Certification. This course can also be audited by those seeing education but not certification Course Length: 2 days, 20 hours

Texts used: Sailing Program Management for Head Instructors

Course overview: This course is designed for sailing instructors that are making the transition to a leadership or management role in their programs but is also available for parents and volunteers that want to better manage their sailing programs but do no want to receive a certification. It focuses on the management side of sailing programming. Learn More.


US Sailing Instructor and Coach Trainers represent the highest level of experience in the field of Sail training and coaching. Acceptance into a Trainer Level courses is done through a resume and application process only. Courses are usually scheduled once per year and candidates must be a minimum of 24 years old and hold a certification as the Instructor Level for which they’re seeking to be a Trainer. Learn More.