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.



The Level 1 course is divided into two sections. Absence from any portion of the course excludes the instructor candidate from certification:

  1. An Online, 10-day, guided section. The total time commitment is approximately 10-12 hours, required webinars are scheduled on Saturdays and Sundays. Because much of the course is self-guided, students will have the flexibility to complete the online modules around their schedule. The only sections that have a specific time designated are the webinars.  The timing of those will be set by the Instructor Trainer and candidates will be notified of the times two weeks prior to the start. Make sure that your schedule is flexible on those weekends that the course is scheduled. During this section candidates must complete video modules with assessment questions, online testing and attend multiple webinars. Instructor Trainers (ITs) will present material to Instructor Candidates (ICs) during some of the webinars, and ICs will be expected to present to the IT, and the rest of the class, during the other webinar. Here's a brief tutorial of how to gain access to your online course.
  2. An In-person, 2-day, evaluation. The total time commitment is approximately 18-20 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 course will need to be re-taken.


  • Any instructor candidate who completed the online portion in 2020 needs to complete a two-day, in-person, section by December 31, 2021.
  • Registration for the Small Boat Level 1 Instructor online section (online section) must be done before registering for the Small Boat Level 1 instructor in-person section (in-person section).
  • The online section must be completed prior to attending the in-person section.
  • US Sailing recommends that the in-person section is attended within 3 months of the online section for maximum retention and successful completion.
  • The deadline to complete the in-person section is 12 months from the completion of the online section. Ex: Online section completed on 7/1/2021 would need to complete the in-person section by 6/30/2022


  1. Experience sailing on dinghies and/or day sailing keelboats.
  2. Current US Sailing Individual, College or Family Membership
    Youth membership is not applicable, and only one instructor is allowed per family membership.
  3. Meeting the minimum age
    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.
  4. Experience operating a powerboat.
    This skill will be evaluated, but not taught, at the course. Instructor Candidates who feel that they are lacking adequate 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 50 yards both with and without a life jacket.
  6. Ability to exhibit appropriate personal and interpersonal skills.
  7. Before signing up for the ONLINE section, you must have/complete the following:
  8. Before attending for the IN-PERSON section, you must complete the following:
    • The online section of the Level 1 course.
    • 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. Candidates who do not have a NASBLA approved Safe Boating Certificate will not be allowed to participate in the in-person section Level 1 Instructor course. 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. 


The following are required for successful completion of this courses:

  1. Attendance at all portions of the course.
  2. Successfully passing all written tests and skill evaluations.
  3. A positive evaluation by the Instructor Trainer.
    Demonstrate professional conduct, an open-minded, positive and enthusiastic attitude, appropriate appearance (clothing, footwear and tidiness), participation in discussions, collaboration skills/team player, confidence and ease of manner.

Small Boat Level 1 Instructor Certification is not valid unless accompanied by:

  1. First Aid and CPR Certification: from the American Red Cross, American Heart Association or and  U.S. Coast Guard approved provider. Candidates  do not need to complete the CPR/First Aid Training in advance of the Level 1 course, however a certification will NOT be valid unless accompanied by current First Aid and CPR.
  2. Valid SafeSport Certificate. This program, developed by the US Olympic and Paralympic 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.
    • A few notes on completing Safesport:
      • Enter your US Sailing member number. 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.



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. The printed version of the materials also includes a whistle and lanyard in the purchase price.

Course materials include: Small Boat Instructor Guide, Basic Powerboat Safety and Rescue, Learn Sailing Right Intermediate, Little Red Book.


Online section: $250.00 per candidate / In-Person section: $175.00 per candidate. Registration is on a first pay basis. US Sailing will not reserve spots without full payment.


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 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.

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.


Please select "Enroll Now" to see a full list of prerequisites and to register. Registration closes one week prior to the course start date.

For more information about the in-person sessions, Click Here.

If you are interested in hosting an Level 1 Instructor Course, please fill out the online "Host a Course Form."  Questions? email: