Small Boat Instructor Programs

Sailing Counselor


The Sailing Counselor  course is designed to prepare candidates to assist with small boat activities in camp, recreational and organizational programs. This course is highly recommended for those who intend to seek Level 1 Small Boat Instructor certification. 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.  These courses are taught by Small boat Level 1 Instructor Trainers.

Course goals include:

  • Familiarize candidates with principles of risk management, including carrying out a safety inspection.
  • Familiarize candidates with sailboat nomenclature and proper sailing terminology.
  • Prepare candidates to properly rig a small sailboat. Prepare candidates to conduct a swim check.
  • Prepare to conduct a capsize/rescue drill.
  • Familiarize candidates with land drills.
  • Rehearse candidates in fundamental small boat sailing skills and familiarize then with routine sailing drills.
  • Familiarize candidates with basic “rules of the road” for small sailboats.
  • Familiarize candidates with on-the-water safety, possible emergencies, and overboard recovery and rescue techniques.
  • Familiarize candidates with hazardous weather conditions.
  • Prepare candidates to organize and conduct safe and orderly sailing activities.
  • Familiarize candidates with the use of hand signals in on-water communication.
  • Familiarize candidates with US Sailing Training programs, products and resources.
  • Minimum age limit for Sailing Counselor Course Participation
  • All Candidates must have reached their 14th birthday within the calendar year of the course.

Course FORMAT & Length

This is a two-day, 20 hour course. Attendance all days and all hours of the course is mandatory.


  1. Meeting the minimum age
    All Candidates must have reached their 14th birthday within the calendar year that the course is being held in. After completing a Sailing Counselor course (and gaining some real-world experience teaching sailing), Sailing Counselors are eligible to pursue the Level I Sailing Instructor Certification.
  2. Basic sailing experience
    A basic understanding of sailing theory and minimal practical experience sailing a small boat is expected.
  3. Ability to swim 25 yards with a life jacket. The accepted swim strokes are: front crawl, breaststroke, side stroke, elementary backstroke, back crawl and butterfly, as defined by the American Red Cross. Floating and treading water are not considered to be swimming strokes, and sculling or finning as a way of moving through the water while floating or treading is not considered to be a swimming stroke.
  4. Completed course registration form accompanied by appropriate course fees (and any late charges).
  5. Valid SafeSport Certificate (Register separately). 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. 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.  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.
      • Safesport course is included with US Sailing membership or $20 for non-members.


Sailing Counselor cards may be granted to those who pass the following:

  • Water Comfort/Life jacket check – Practical Evaluation
  • Know basic safety for sailing
  • Show basic risk assessment and management for sailing
  • Basic sailing Skills practical evaluation
  • Familiarization of classroom, on land, and on the water, teaching methodologies

Please note that the Sailing Counselor course is not a certification course. It is therefore recommended that Sailing Counselors work under the supervision of Level 1 Certified Sailing Instructors.We also encourage Sailing Counselors to attend a Safe Powerboat Handling course to gain experience operating a powerboat.


There is no corresponding student level certification to this course. The Little Red Book can only be signed off on by a Level 1 Instructor.


All materials will be sent directly to the course site and handed out by the Instructor Trainer. The training materials for the Sailing Counselor course include the following:

  • Learn Sailing Right! Beginner Sailing
  • Sailing Smart Instructor’s Guide (includes Reach Educator Guide-Module 6)
  • Little Red Book
  • Sailing Counselor Booklet (includes Risk Management info).

Course Fees

The course registration fee is $300.00 per candidate. Registration is on a first pay basis. US Sailing will not reserve spots without full payment.

Cancellation Policy AND TRANSFER POLICY

Course fees are nonrefundable but are transferable to another course up to one (1) week prior to the course start date. Course Transfers are not available within the week of the course start. Fees are not transferable to another candidate. 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.


If you are interested in hosting a Sailing Counselor course, please fill out the online "Host a Course Form."

Questions? Email