Small Boat Instructor Programs

Level 1 Instructor


The US Sailing Small Boat Level 1 Instructor Course is designed to provide sailing instructors with information on how to teach more safely, effectively, and creatively. The goal of the program is to produce highly qualified instructors, thereby reducing risk exposure for sailing programs. 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.


  1. Current US Sailing Individual, College or Family Membership
    Youth membership is not applicable, and only one instructor is allowed per family membership.
  2. Meeting the minimum age requirement.
    All candidates must have reached their 16th birthday within the calendar year that the course is being held in. Candidates under 18 years of age who complete the course will be designated as a Sailing Assistant until their 18th birthday.
  3. Experience sailing on dinghies and/or day sailing keelboat.
  4. Experience operating a powerboat.
    This skill will be evaluated, but not taught, at the course. Instructor Candidates who feel that they would benefit from additional experience should either seek opportunities for practice, or attend a US Sailing Safe Powerboat Handling Course. Examples of the maneuvers that will be tested can be found on US Sailing's Instructor Resources webpage.
  5. Ability to swim 25 yards with a life jacket. Please be aware that all Level 1 Candidates must complete a Water Comfort check during the course. This likely will occur in the same outdoor location that sailing will occur. Protective gear (wet suits/ dry suits) are allowed and, in some cases, required (venue depending).


  • US Sailing recommends that the in-person section is attended within three (3) months of the online course completion for maximum retention and successful completion.
  • The deadline to complete the in-person section is 12 months from the completion of the online section. Example: A student completing an online section on 1/21/2024 would need to complete the in-person section by 1/21/2025.


The Level 1 course is divided into an online, self-guided section and an in-person, three-day section. Information about both, and the steps to achieve certification, are outlined below.

The Online section of level 1 is completely self-guided,  allowing participants to learn at their own pace and includes no scheduled interaction with an Instructor Trainer. This course must be completed prior to attendance at the in-person section. No exceptions will be allowed.


Registration fee is $130.00 per candidate. 

Access to the course is available immediately after payment, please disregard the course dates presented during registration. To access the course after you have registered visit

After registering for an online section, register for an in-person section.


Registration fee is $325.00 per candidate. US Sailing does not reserve spots without full payment. Course contacts and Instructor Trainers do not have the ability to add additional spaces to a full course. If you are interested in attending a course it's at capacity, please add you name to the wait list and you will be notified if a space becomes available.

Candidates must complete Teaching and Coaching Fundamentals Online (TCFO) prior to attending an online section. Failure to do so will preclude your attendance in the online section (and the issuing of a certification).


The course is approximately 90-minutes and has an additional registration fee of $10.00. During account creation be sure to include your US Sailing member number to receive completion credit.

Complete the approximately six (6) hours of self-guided training.

This course must be completed prior to attendance at the in-person section. No exceptions will be allowed.

Candidates must have a Safe Boating course that is approved by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA). Candidates holding a current USCG full or limited Master’s or OUPV license are exempt from this requirement. US Powerboating's Safe Powerboat Handling course is NASBLA approved in many states, as are the Boat US Foundation and Boat-Ed online courses.

Candidates who do not have a NASBLA approved Safe Boating Certificate will not be allowed to participate in the in-person section of the Level 1 Instructor course. 

Anyone 18 years of age or older is required to hold a valid SafeSport certificate in order for their US Sailing instructor certification to be valid.  This free online training course must be completed every year.

A few notes on completing Safesport:

  • Enter your US Sailing member number during registration. If you need to find it click here.
  • Complete all the modules. You DO NOT have to complete it all at once.
  • The course allows you to log in and out without losing your progress.


The in-person section has a total time commitment of approximately 30 hours. Students will be evaluated on their teaching ability, sailing skills, powerboat handling skills and on-water class management, among other topics.

If the in-person section is not completed by the 12-month deadline, the online section will need to be re-taken. Absence from any portion of the course excludes the instructor candidate from certification and will result in failure of the course.

Instructor Certification will NOT be valid unless accompanied by current First Aid and CPR, but it does not need to be completed prior to the in-person section,

US Sailing recognizes First Aid and CPR training from any organization that is recognized by the U.S. Coast Guard. To determine which courses are approved, click this link to see all approved providers. Because of the size of the list (over 1,050 providers), once you open the link you'll want to press 'Ctrl+F' on your keyboard to search this document. If you type "CPR" it will highlight only those providers who are approved.

A state-licensed EMT, registered nurse, or physician is accepted as having met US Sailing's First Aid and CPR requirements.

Some guidance if you'd prefer not to search through the provider list:

Please be aware that US Sailing does not endorse or support any particular providers. Specific links are provided only for the convenience of our members and candidates.


The following are required for successful completion of this course:

  1. Attendance at all portions of the course.
  2. Successfully passing all tests and skill evaluations.
  3. A positive evaluation by the Instructor Trainer.


Certified Level 1 Instructors may sign off on skills in the Little Red Book and Beginner Level skills in the Skill Up App.


All course materials are delivered digitally and are made available via US Sailing's online bookstore. Printed versions of the materials are available for purchase during the registration process for the online and the in-person sessions. Only purchase these once during registration. The printed version of the materials also includes a whistle and lanyard in the purchase price. Course materials include:

  • Small Boat Level 1 Instructor Manual
  • Basic Powerboat Safety and Rescue
  • Learn Sailing Right Beginner
  • Learn Sailing Right Intermediate
  • Little Red Book


Course fees are non-refundable but are transferable to another course up to 1 week prior to the course start date. The fee for all transfers is $25.00.

To withdraw from a course more than one week prior to the start, a written request must be submitted. Please email

To transfer into a different session:

  1. Log in to your US Sailing account here: MyUSSailing
  2. Select the My Certs and Courses tab from the options on the left, then click the transfer link.
  3. Submit Payment details
  4. Confirm transfer
  5. Course Transfers are not available within the week of the course start.

Course fees are forfeited if any course is not attended.

US Sailing reserves the right to cancel, postpone, abandon or change the venue, date and time of the course should unforeseen circumstances occur or course minimums are not reached. In the event the course is unable to proceed, a course credit will be made available which is good for one (1) year or you may choose a refund.

Fees are not transferable to another candidate.