***PLEASE NOTE: Registration for this section requires Small Boat Level 1 Instructor online section registration, you will not be able to complete registration unless the online section has been purchased. If you have not completed the online section of the Level 1 course you are not eligible to attend an in-person section. Visit the Level 1 course page to find an online course before proceeding with your in-person registration.***

Course Goals: The US Sailing Small Boat Level 1 Sailing 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.

Please click on a link below for quick access:

Course Length
Minimum Age Requirement
Prerequisites for entrance into the course
Requirements for successful completion of the course
Course outcomes
Course Materials
Validation of Level 1 Small Boat Sailing Instructors
Course Fees
Cancellation Policy


Course Length

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. 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. The online section must be completed before someone may attend an in-person section.
  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.

Minimum Age Requirement
• All Candidates must have reached their 16th birthday within the calendar year that the course is being held in. Students under 18 years of age who complete the course will be designated as a Sailing Assistant until their 18th birthday. Please be aware that forging/lying about your age is a violation of the terms of this registration and is grounds for revocation of any or all US Sailing certifications

Prerequisites for entrance into the course
 Sailing experience

  1.  Sailing experience: Sailing experience in small boats, such as prams, dinghies, multi-hulls and small keelboats. Level 1 instructors must be able to sail any small boat sufficiently.
  2.  Current US Sailing Individual Membership.
    Youth memberships are not applicable. Those with a family membership with only one (1) instructor in the family ARE eligible.
  3.  Experience operating a safety boat.
    This skill will not be taught at the course. Instructor Candidates lacking adequate experience should either seek opportunities for practice or attend a US Sailing Safe Powerboat Handling Course. Candidates not passing this portion of the course or other tests will receive a Plan of Improvement, re-testing for which carries a fee of $75.
  4.  Ability to swim 50 yards 
    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.
  5. Completed course registration form accompanied by appropriate course fees
  6. National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA) Safe Boating certification. Each state has different requirements and candidates have a responsibility to meet the boating laws of the state where the course is being held. In some states, online testing meets the criteria for NASBLA certification while other states require classroom work  and do not recognize online testing. If you chose to take an online course, please be certain that the course you’ve chosen is NASBLA approved. Online courses that are not NASBLA approved will not be accepted. BoatUS is one provider of online courses. Click here to see all available Boat US courses. You can also earn your certification at one of US Sailing’s Safe Powerboat Handling Courses or see a current list of approved providers. Candidates holding a current USCG full or limited Master’s or OUPV license are exempt from this requirement.
  7. Successful completion of US Sailing Teaching & Coaching Fundamentals: Developed in conjunction with the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee (USOPC), this course provides the building blocks of good instructional practices for becoming an effective educator on and off the water.
  8.   SAFESPORT: This program, developed by the USOPC, 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 year. Instructor certification is not active unless SafeSport training has been completed.
  9.  Ability to exhibit appropriate personal and interpersonal skills.
  10.  Complete the Safety Boat Skills Self-Assessment Form. This will be provided to Instructor Trainer at the start of the course.

Requirements for Successful completion of course
• Attendance at all portions of the course. Absence from any portion of the course excludes the instructor candidate from evaluation
• Personal and Interpersonal Practical Skills: 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.
• A positive evaluation by the Instructor Trainer.

Passing all Practical Exams
1) Sailing Skills Practical Test: Execute, with comfort and confidence: Rigging, leaving a dock/beach, starting, stopping and speed control, safety position, getting out of irons, sailing backward, tacking, jibing, steering with sails and weight, proper sail trim, judging laylines, capsize and overboard rescue, returning to dock/beach, unrigging.

2) Safety Boat Operation Skills Practical Test: Execute, with comfort and confidence: system, equipment and starting checks, leaving and docking, high and low speed maneuvering, holding position upwind/upcurrent, backing, pivot turn (360 degree turn within boat’s length), anchoring and/or making fast to a mooring, overboard rescue and landing alongside a moored boat. (Tip: view animations of maneuvers)

3) Swim/Life Jacket Practical Check: Swim 50 yards in instructing clothing with a life jacket, tread water two minutes while performing a minor task (such as tying a knot). 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) Marlinspike/Seamanship Practical Test: Demonstrate ability to tie the following knots and hitches: Figure-8, bowline, square knot, sheet bend, clove hitch, two half hitches, rolling hitch, cleat hitch. Also coil and throw a line.

5) Classroom Presentation Practical Skills: Demonstrate lesson preparation, with clear, logical and accurate content, good voice enunciation/clarity/volume/pace/pitch, good non-verbal communication (gestures and body language), effective visual aids, good timed presentation(s) with introduction, conclusion, demonstration, clarity and use of notes, use of multiple pathways techniques, and ease in handling questions.

6) Land Drill and Water Drill Teaching Practical Skills: Demonstrate good class positioning, control and positioning of safety boat, demonstration skills, effective on-the-water communication, evaluation, and feedback technique.

7) Passing all tests
• Two separate tests on the Small Boat Sailing Instructor Guide/Learn Sailing Right! and Basic Powerboating, Safety and Rescue. All tests are multiple choice and are administered during the online portion. A passing grade of 80% is required on all tests.

Course outcomes
The practical and written tests each stand on their own, and each must be passed in order to pass the course. The determination as to whether a candidate passes or fails rests with the Instructor Trainer. In addition to Pass or Fail, a third option is a Plan of Improvement. Re-testing for Plans of Improvement carries a $75 re-testing fee; re-tests are scheduled with specific representatives of US Sailing and must be performed within a specific time frame.

Training materials
There are approximately 400 pages to read, so plan on studying prior to and each night of the course.
Small Boat Sailing Instructor Guide (Learn Sailing Right! Beginner Sailing is embedded within it.)
Basic Powerboating, Safety and Rescue
Learn Sailing Right! Intermediate Sailing student book
• Instructor Candidate Booklet which includes the Review questions for the Instructor Guide/Learn Sailing Right and Powerboating tests.
• Other course information as applicable.

Please note that all materials are delivered digitally unless hard copies are ordered during the registration process.

Validation of Small Boat Sailing Level 1 Instructors
Validation will be for three years providing First Aid, CPR, SafeSport and adequate US Sailing  membership are kept current. Instructor validation is renewable. Visit the website or contact the office for more information.
• Current First Aid and Adult CPR. We will accept First Aid and CPR from the American Red Cross, American Heart Association, or providers approved by the U.S. Coast Guard. See the current list. Additionally, a state licensed EMT or M.D., whose CPR certification is renewed annually is also accepted.

Course Fees
Registration is on a first pay basis. US Sailing will not reserve spots without full payment.

  • Online Section $250.00
  • In Person Evaluation Section $175.00
    *A $50.00 late fee will be charged for any registration within 1 week of the course start

Cancellation and Transfer Policies

Course fees are nonrefundable 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

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.


For and in consideration of the undersigned’s participation in any US Sailing instructor course (“Event” or “Events”), sponsored by US Sailing (the “Organization”), hosted by various Host Clubs/Organizations (the “Hosts”), and taught by a US Sailing certified Instructor Trainer (“IT”), I, for myself, and on behalf of my spouse, children, heirs and next of kin, and any legal and personal representatives, executors, administrators, successors, and assigns, hereby agree to and make the following contractual representations pursuant to this Agreement (the “Agreement”):

  1. RULES AND REGULATIONS: I hereby agree to abide by the rules, regulations, and policies of the Organization, Host, and IT including any and all COVID-19 related safety measures required by the Organization and/or Host.


  1. ACKNOWLEDGMENT OF RISK: I knowingly, willingly, and voluntarily acknowledge the inherent risks associated with the sport of sailing and attendance at an Event, and that participation in any Event involves risks and dangers including, without limitation, the potential for serious bodily injury (including broken bones, head or neck injuries), sickness and communicable disease, trauma, pain & suffering, permanent disability, paralysis and death; loss of or damage to personal property; exposure to extreme conditions and circumstances; accidents involving other participants, event staff, volunteers or spectators; contact or collision with other participants or natural or manmade objects; adverse weather conditions; facilities issues and premises conditions; failure of protective equipment; inadequate safety measures; participants of varying skill levels; situations beyond the immediate control of the Event organizers and competition management; and other undefined, not readily foreseeable and presently unknown risks and dangers (“Risks”). Special note regarding COVID-19 and other communicable diseases. Risks under this Agreement include the potential for exposure to communicable diseases such as COVID-19, an extremely contagious virus that spreads from person-to-person contact. The Organization has taken preventative measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19; however, attending or participating in an Event could increase your risk of contracting COVID-19 which may result in personal injury, illness, permanent disability, and death.

  1. ASSUMPTION OF RISK: I understand that the aforementioned Risks may be caused in whole or in part or result directly or indirectly from the negligence of my own actions or inactions, the actions or inactions of others participating in the Events, or the negligent acts or omissions of the Released Parties defined below, and I hereby voluntarily and knowingly assume all such Risks and responsibility for any damages, liabilities, losses, or expenses that I incur as a result of my participation in any Events.  I also agree to be responsible for any injury or damage caused by me or any agents under my direction and control at any Event.


  1. RELEASE: In consideration of my participation in any Event, I hereby release from liability and waive any claims against the Organization, ITs, and Host(s) of the Event, its licensees, competition managers, promoters, sponsors, advertisers, beneficiaries, venue providers, and supporting organizations, together with the officers, directors, employees, volunteers, and contractors of them (the “Released Parties” or “Event Organizers”), with respect to any liability, claim(s), demand(s), cause(s) of action, damage(s), loss, or expense (including court costs and reasonable attorney fees) of any kind or nature (“Liability”) which may arise out of, result from, or relate in any way to my participation in the Events, including claims for Liability caused in whole or in part by the negligent acts or omissions of the Released Parties.


  1. COMPLETE AGREEMENT AND SEVERABILITY CLAUSE: This Agreement represents the complete understanding between the parties regarding these issues and no oral representations, statements or inducements have been made apart from this Agreement.  If any provision of this Agreement is held to be unlawful, void, or for any reason unenforceable, then that provision shall be deemed severable from this Agreement and shall not affect the validity and enforceability of any remaining provisions.




If you wish to submit a hard copy of this Waiver, Release, and Assumption of Risk instead, please print and mail a signed copy to education@ussailing.org

By signing below, I (as the participant or as the Parent/Legal Guardian of the minor identified below) hereby accept and agree to the terms and conditions of this Agreement in connection with my (or the minor’s) participation in any Event.


Participant Signature:  ___________________________________ Printed Name:  ____________________________ Date:________________

Parent/Legal Guardian Signature (required if participant is under the age of 18):                                                                                                          ______


Parent/Legal Guardian Printed Name: ____________________________________________________  Date:__________________

By clicking below, I (as the participant or as the Parent/Legal Guardian of the minor identified below) hereby accept and agree to the terms and conditions of this Agreement in connection with my (or the minor’s) participation in any Event.


Registration is only accepted via our online registration system. Should you need assistance, please contact info@ussailing.org Register securely online below.