US Sailing & Youth Programs: Opportunities for Everyone

As the summer approaches, and yacht clubs and community sailing centers are organizing their youth programs, US Sailing would like to share with you the wide range of program options we offer junior sailors to experience and enjoy sailing.

Growing Youth Sailing Together
Youth sailing programs are organized at the local level by you, the dedicated community sailing centers, yacht clubs, sailing clubs and sailboat classes. Organizations like yours are running youth sailing events and clinics, and evolving their instruction to keep kids interested and inspired to sail towards new goals. These groups are the mainstay of youth sailing programs in the U.S.

US Sailing encourages all forms of youth sailing and supports the sailors, parents and class associations dedicated to getting kids on the water. We are actively engaged with these groups in creating access and opportunities for youth to be introduced to this fun and rewarding sport and activity.

Our goal is to support environments that foster a life-long passion for sailing by providing multiple pathways for young sailors with varying interests. From the competitive environment in our Junior Championship Series and USA Junior Olympic Festivals to our grass-roots efforts through the Reach initiative, it is US Sailing’s goal to make sure young sailors understand all the possibilities sailing has available.

The Foundation of Skills Starts Here
It all begins with US Sailing’s Small Boat Certification Program, which offers a simple and inexpensive way to get started in sailing with trained certified instructors. A network of US Sailing smallboat instructors provide youth with a safe, fun, high-quality learning environment and standardized instruction at various sailing organizations nationwide. US Sailing offers certification courses for instructors and coaches on a wide range of boats at varying levels of expertise. Learn more about our Smallboat Instructor Program.

A Competitive Track
Young sailors in search of a fun time on and off the water, great competition and quality coaching will find a special experience at US Sailing’s youth racing events. These racing events are hosted by local yacht clubs and sailing organizations around the country, and they offer a wide variety of opportunities to participate. The USA Junior Olympic Sailing Festivals (JO) and US Sailing’s National Championships collectively organize over 35 regattas around the country for youth sailors every year. Our championships are often accompanied by racing clinics run by US Sailing certified coaches. Skill development is a major component of these US Sailing racing events and some offer skill builder clinics. All coaches participating at Junior Championship Series events are Small Boat Level 3 certified.

Some events like JOs are local in focus, others are regional and the Finals of the Junior Championship Series are nationally focused, providing an opportunity for young sailors to compete against sailors from all over the country. These events have a long track record of success in preparing young sailors for the high school and college sailing ranks, and beyond.

Next Level
Project Pipeline is our nation’s first long-term, comprehensive high performance youth sailing program to develop highly trained and experienced young competitors with the skills to compete successfully in the international sailing arena, and ultimately the Olympics.

At the core of the Project Pipeline strategy is a powerful new Olympic Development Program (ODP). The ODP is a long-term initiative to help young sailors build complete skill set in order to achieve success in high performance sailing and at the Olympic level. The program provides significantly improved training to young athletes looking to increase their skills at the highest level.

Invitational ODP training camps held at locations around the country introduce young sailors to the world of high performance sailing. The ODP training camps produce exceptional sailors with the skills, practices and motivation to pursue their most ambitious sailing dreams and become leaders in the sport of sailing.

In Addition to Racing
US Sailing recognizes that not all young sailors aspire to get involved in competition, or perhaps they lose interest in racing. There are alternatives for kids who are interested in experiencing sailing in other ways.

US Sailing’s Reach initiative is a nationally recognized movement designed to improve STEM skills (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) in today’s youth by using sailing as a fun, educational activity to introduce kids to the sport. The overarching goal of Reach is to increase the quality of STEM education and inspire future environmental stewards through sailing. By combining educators, sailing instructors, engineers, and scientists with today’s youth, Reach provides them with a one of a kind authentic learning experience. Reach programs are being implemented at sailing centers, youth centers, yacht clubs and middle schools around the country.

US Sailing’s Junior Big Boat Sailing Program allows new sailors to learn the ropes on a big boat platform, or experienced junior sailors can apply their small boat sailing skills in a new and challenging way. The program highlights fun, socialization and teamwork and teaches skills that are valuable for crew on cruising boats and club racers.

Studies have found that youth sailors were getting more exposure to all types of sailing when organizations implement programs like Junior Big Boat Sailing and Reach programs.

US Sailing has been fortunate to foster positive relationships with community sailing centers, yacht clubs, class associations, fleets and other industry leaders, that championed this cause to serve our young sailors and to safeguard a vibrant and fulfilling future of sailors in the United States for years to come.

Helpful Links to our Resources for Youth Sailors and for information on how your organization can host any of these events and programs: