Small Boat Instructor Programs

Sailing Counselor

The Sailing Counselor (SC) 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 IT’s.


  • 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.

(vs. Level 1 Sailing Instructor Certification)

The Sailing Counselor course is not a certification course. It is therefore recommended that Sailing Counselors will workunder the supervision of Level I Certified Sailing Instructors. Please note that that Sailing Counselors are not powerboat qualified and successful Sailing Counselor candidates are not covered by US Sailing certified instructor personal liability insurance afforded fully certified instructors.


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


  • Basic sailing experience
    • A basic understanding of sailing theory and minimal practical experience sailing a small boat is expected.
  • Ability to swim 50 yards both with and without 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.
  • Completed course registration form accompanied by appropriate course fees (and any late charges).
  • Completed US Sailing Medical Form.
  • SafeSport Training
    • 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.
      • You must register for SafeSport separately before beginning the course. Directions for completion are available here.
    • Enter your US Sailing member number, if you need to find it click here. The Safesport course is included with US Sailing membership or $20 for non-members.
      • The course allows you to log in and out so you DO NOT have to complete it all at once

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

    • Swim/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


    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).


    Registration fee is $200 and is on a first pay basis. US Sailing will not reserve spots without full payment.

    $190 if received more than four (4) weeks prior to course start date
    $200 if received within four (4) weeks of course start date
    $215 if received within one (1) week of course start date


    • Course fees are nonrefundable but are transferable to another course/date if the Training office is given enough notice.
    • More than four weeks before the course start date: Fee is transferable to another course.
    • Within the four weeks of course start date: ½ half of course fee is transferable to another course
    • Less than 24 hours notice of course start date (or no-show): 100% of the course fee is forfeited.
    • US Sailing reserves the right to cancel, postpone, abandon or change the venue, date and time of the course should unforeseen circumstances occur. In the event the course is unable to proceed and US Sailing changes the course format for any reason a full course credit will be made available which is good for 1 year


    • Absence from any portion of the course excludes the instructor candidate from certification.


    Download the optional  Medical Form

    Register securely online.