2020 Summer Sailing School

The Seattle Yacht Club Sailing School is a premier youth sailing program that introduces hundreds of youth to sailing each summer.

All classes cover sailing terminology, points of sail, rigging, tacking, jibing, docking, and other seamanship skills through fun activities on and off the water.

All Classes...

Run Monday - Friday, 9 am - 4 pm
Launch from Seattle Yacht Club on Portage Bay
Require sailors to pass a relatively easy float test
Are taught by US Sailing Level 1 Instructors
Are suitable for new sailors (except Learn-to-Race Camp)
Focus on fun and safety while boating!

Classes Offered


Lil' Luffers

Ages & Prerequisites
 - 7-9 years old
 - Ability to pass basic float test

 - Vanguard 15
 - 420

This class introduces our youngest sailors to fun and safety on the water in an unintimidating way. Students sail with one or two peers and an instructor in a Vanguard 15 or 420 sailboat, allowing for hands-on learning with instructor guidance close by. This class covers sailing terminology, indicators of wind direction, rigging basics, steering with a tiller, and other foundational boating skills through fun games and activities. Honing skills learned throughout the week, students may earn the chance to sail an Opti on the last day of class.

Overboard Optis

Ages & Prerequisites
 - 8-12 years old
 - Ability to pass basic float test
 - Interest in sailing a single-handed boat (even if your sailor is a little nervous!)


 - Opti

Our most popular class, Overboard Optis offers students a chance to expand their knowledge of sailing as well as gain confidence in a single-handed boat. Throughout the week, students learn more about rigging, basic sail trim, launching & docking, tacking & jibing, righting a capsize, beginning racing, and good seamanship through a variety of fun activities. While Overboard Optis is many students' first time sailing solo, instructors are often experienced Opti racers themselves and can offer advanced instruction. Many students take this course multiple times in one summer and across summers, so be sure to sign up early!

Junior Jibers

Ages & Prerequisites
 - 10-13 years old
 - Ability to pass basic float test
 - Minimum weight 100 lbs

 - Vanguard 15
 - Laser

This class is an excellent opportunity for students to improve their abilities not only as a sailor, but a team player as well. Students sail with a peer in a Vanguard 15 or solo in a Laser, and may switch between boats depending on availability and experience. At the beginning of the session, the class may be broken up into groups based on skill level. In some segments of the class, all skill levels will sail together so they can have fun and learn from their own peer group. A wide variety of skills will be covered, from sailing fundamentals to beginning racing. This class is suitable for all levels of experience. Please note weight minimum of 100 lbs. allows for comfortable and safe handling of a Vanguard 15 or Laser. Sailors use their body weight to keep the boat from tipping over, and flip the boat upright if they capsize. Overboard Optis is a great alternative if your sailor does not meet the weight minimum.

High School

Ages & Prerequisites
 - 14-17 years old
 - Completed 8th Grade
 - Ability to pass basic float test

 - Vanguard 15
 - Laser

This class is similar to Junior Jibers, but catered towards students in or entering High School. Students sail with a friend in a Vanguard 15 or solo in a Laser, and may switch between boats depending on availability and skill level. At the beginning of the session, the class may be broken up into groups based on skill level. In some segments of the class, all skill levels will sail together so they can have fun and learn from their own peer group. A wide variety of skills will be covered, from sailing fundamentals to beginning racing. This class is suitable for all levels of experience.

Learn-To-Race Camp

JULY 6-10, 2020 ONLY

Ages & Prerequisites
 - Optimist: 9-13 years old
 - Vanguard 15: 10-17 years old / weight minimum 100 lbs
 - Laser: 13-17 years old / weight minimum 100 lbs
 - Must have taken at least 1 class at SYC Sailing School, or be comfortable demonstrating basic sailing maneuvers including steering, tacking/jibing, and  docking
 - Ability to pass basic float test
 - Enjoy sailing and want to improve

 - Optimist
 - Vanguard 15
 - Laser


For one week each summer, sailing school focuses on introducing students to sailboat racing in an un-intimidating way. Classes are divided by boat type, each covering rules of racing, typical race courses, starting, basic racing tactics, and more advanced boat handling techniques. The week concludes with a fun regatta and awards. Instructors are often current or past race team members, offering a depth of racing knowledge to students. This class is often a stepping stone for our Opti Green Fleet Introductory Racing Program and/or the Junior Race Team.



The Optimist (Opti) is an eight foot, kid-sized single-handed dinghy that is easy to manage and fun to sail. Optis are popular youth racing dinghies sailed around the world.

Vanguard 15

The Vanguard-15 (V-15) is the primary training boat at Seattle Yacht Club. This stable, double-handed boat with a main and jib is the national standard for novice and advanced sailors to master the basics and to develop teamwork.


Similar to a Vanguard 15, the 420 is a double-handed performance sailboat with a main and a jib. 


The Olympic-Class Laser is a high performance single-handed dinghy for intermediate and advanced sailors. It is a great platform to build boat-handling and racing skills. This boat has two different sized sails, allowing us to tailor the boat to the weight of the sailor.

2020 Dates & Pricing

Lil' Luffers

Class Code      Dates  
LL1                   June 15-19 
LL2                   June 22-26
LL3                   July 6-10
LL4                   July 13-17
LL5                   July 20-24
LL6                   July 27-31
LL7                   August 3-7
LL8                   August 10-14
LL9                   August 17-21
LL10                 August 24-28
LL11                 Aug. 31-Sept. 4

High School

Class Code      Dates  
HS1                 June 15-19
HS2                 June 22-26
Race week      July 6-10
HS4                 July 13-17
HS5                 July 20-24
HS6                 July 27-31
HS7                 August 3-7
HS8                 August 10-14
HS9                 August 17-21
HS10               August 24-28
HS11               Aug. 31-Sept. 4


Overboard Optis

Class Code      Dates  
OO1                 June 15-19
OO2                  June 22-26
Race week       July 6-10
OO4                 July 13-17
OO5                 July 20-24
OO6                 July 27-31
OO7                 August 3-7
OO8                 August 10-14
OO9                 August 17-21
OO10               August 24-28
OO11               Aug. 31- Sept. 4

Learn-to-race Camp

Class Code      Dates
ORC (Opti)      July 6-10
VRC (V-15)      July 6-10
LRC (Laser)     July 6-10



Junior Jibers

Class Code      Dates  
JJ1                   June 15-19
JJ2                   June 22-26
Race week       July 6-10
JJ4                   July 13-17
JJ5                   July 20-24
JJ6                   July 27-31
JJ7                   August 5-9
JJ8                   August 3-7
JJ9                   August 10-14
JJ10                 August 17-21
JJ11                 Aug. 31-Sept. 4


2020 Class Fees


Kick-Off BBQ

June 22, 2020

See the boats students will be sailing and meeting the instructors at our annual Kick-Off Barbeque! Burgers, hotdogs, and salad will be served on the lawn at Seattle Yacht Club. The summer sailing staff will be on hand to introduce themselves and answer questions about the sailing programs. Cost is $15 per person, and tickets are available for purchase as an optional with Sailing School registration.



Pricing, Fees, & Cancellations

  • 2020 class prices to to be decided. 
  • $10/week life jacket rental (optional with registration).
  • $15/person kick-off BBQ ticket (optional with registration).
  • Class fees must be paid in full and accompanied by complete application forms to guarantee registration in desired class(es)$100 charge for cancellations up to one week/the Monday before class starts.
  • No refund if you cancel less than one week/the Tuesday or later before class starts.
  • $50 charge for class changes, if registration has already been processed.


  • Classes can and will sail in the rain. Students should bring a jacket for those days.
  • The sailors will not go out on the water if there is thunder or lightning in the area, or if winds are dangerously strong. If weather or wind-speed prevents the students from sailing, the instructors are prepared with other on-land sailing-related games and activities to keep class fun and educational.
  • Classes will sail in smoky conditions. In heavy smoke, classes may spend regular on-land time (lunch, teaching activities) indoors instead of outdoors. Students may want to bring N95 face masks on smoky days.
  • There are no refunds for adverse weather conditions, unless sailing school is canceled by the Sailing Office.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the float test?

All students will do a life jacket fitting and basic float test on the first day of the class. It consists of jumping in the water with a life jacket on, swimming 15-20 feet, treading water while doing a simple task such as tying a knot or telling a joke, and then getting out of the water. Any swim stroke is appropriate. Students must "pass" the test before they can sail. The purpose of this test is to make sure sailors are comfortable in the water and life jackets fit properly.

Occasionally our younger sailors become scared about this and don't want to do the test, even though they are strong swimmers. Usually when they see their peers do the test, they will jump in.

Failure to pass the float test is not grounds for a refund. 

why is there a weight minimum for some classes?

The weight minimums for some of our classes is so sailors are placed in a class best-suited to their size. All single-hull sailboats heel (tip) in a certain amount of wind. In dinghy sailboats, sailors use their body weight to hike out and flatten the boat as it moves through the water. Vanguard 15s and Lasers have relatively large sails for some small sailors, therefore there's a weight minimum of 100 lbs. for classes that use Vanguard 15s or Lasers (Junior Jibers, High School, Vanguard 15 Race Camp, and Laser Race Camp). If sailors are too light to balance the boat out with their body weight, they will have a hard time controlling the boat and are more likely to capsize. 

Sometimes children have been in Overboard Optis for several years as they do not meet the 100 lbs. weight minimum. Parents wonder why their child can't "move up" to Junior Jibers. The difference between Overboard Optis and Junior Jibers is not that one class is more advanced than another, it's simply that each class sails a different boat to meet the need of different sized sailors. For some perspective, sailors on the SYC Junior Race Team will often sail Optis until they are 14 or 15 years old and weigh up to 120 lbs. 

Is lunch included?

No, lunch is not included. Students should bring a lunch each day, or bring money to purchase lunch at the Snack Shack. The Snack Shack has sandwiches, burgers, hot dogs, and box lunches available for purchase, as well as coffee and ice cream. 

What's the difference between the Lil' Luffers and the Overboard Optis?

Students in the Lil's Luffers class will learn to sail with an instructor and 1 or 2 other students in the boat with them. Students in the Overboard Optis class will learn to sail in individual, kid-sized boats called Optimists.  Both classes are suitable for beginners; the class choice really depends on the preference and comfort level of the child and parents.

What's the difference between the Overboard Optis and the Junior Jibers? My child is in the age range for both classes.

For sailors in the age range for both classes, the weight limit for the Opti class is about 120 lbs, and kids who are heavier or tall for their age will be more comfortable in the boats used in the Junior Jibers class. Both classes are suitable for all levels of experience. Weight recommendation for Junior Jibers is 100 lbs minimum. This is for safety. The sailors use their body weight to keep the boat from heeling (tipping) over, and to flip the boat upright if they capsize. 

Where do you sail?

Most sailing takes place on Portage Bay, located between Lake Washington and Lake Union. The sailors may occasionally venture to Lake Washington or Lake Union. 

Who do I contact about lost & found?

Please contact Catie Plourde, Sailing Programs Coordinator, at catiep@seattleyachtclub.org regarding lost & found items. All unclaimed lost & found items will be donated in early October each year. 

Interested in instructing at Sailing School and/or Adult Lessons? Instructor applications open January 1, 2020.

Looking for Adult Sailing Lessons? Click HERE

Location & Contact Info

All classes launch from Seattle Yacht Club on Portage Bay.
Seattle Yacht Club
1807 East Hamlin Street
Seattle, WA 98112

Questions? Please contact Catie Plourde, Sailing Programs Coordinator, at catiep@seattleyachtclub.org or 206-926-1009.