Youth Development

Frequently Asked Questions

QUESTION: I'm a parent. How do I get my child started in the sport of sailing?

ANSWER: There are thousands of Level 1 certified instructors across the country, teaching at youth sailing programs, yacht clubs, and community sailing centers. Level 1 instructors have the training to provide a safe and fun learn-to-sail experience for your child. To find a sailing program in your area, refer to the Where To Sail map on the US Sailing website.

QUESTION: I'm a youth sailing program leader. How can my instructors use this information to teach our sailors?

ANSWER: The first step is to make sure they have up-to-date US Sailing Instructor Certifications, so they are trained in the National Standard for teaching and safety skills. The next step is to educate them on the Developmental Age Levels and make sure they know what the age-appropriate sport experience is for their students. They should also understand the Skills-Based Pathway Model and guide their students towards the next skill levels as they progress.

QUESTION: Our program has many intermediate level sailors who have had a good start in the sport, but they aren't sure what's next. How can we help them stay in the sport?

ANSWER: Intermediate sailors have lots of options, and they should be encouraged to explore as many sailing disciplines and experiences as they have access to. By sampling multiple sailing disciplines, they'll broaden their skill set and have the opportunity to find the sailing activities that they enjoy the most.

For example, many sailors who learn to sail in dinghies will be ready to try sailing larger craft like keelboats. US Sailing's "Junior Big Boat Program Guide" can help your program provide those learning opportunities. Intermediate sailors will also enjoy trying a variety of small craft, such as windsurfers, skiffs, and catamarans, and spending time both as a helms-person and as crew.

This exploratory period is a critical time for young sailors to sample the variety of experiences that sailing has to offer. Racing sailors may be focused on success on the racecourse, but they shouldn't focus only on one boat or set of skills. They'll be a better sailor in the long-run if they try all types of sailing and develop a broad, well-rounded skill set.

QUESTION: I'm a youth sailor and I want to keep sailing, but I don't like racing. What are my options?

ANSWER: Your options are almost endless. Sailing is a sport with tons of variety, and it's up to you to explore it and find the activities that you enjoy the best. Try as many types of sailing as you can, and make sure you that you and your parents ask your instructors and program leaders to offer a variety of options, including non-racing activities.

For example, try sailing on bigger boats, going on distance sails, and learn about navigation and seamanship. Or, try sailing fast boats like windsurfers, catamarans, or even foiling boats to experience the thrill of speed! You'll find that the more time you spend on the water and the more your sailing skills improve, the more you'll have new opportunities to keep sailing.