2020 Summer Sailing School


Thank you for another excellent summer!

While Sailing School looked quite a bit different this year with groups of 5 Opti sailors, social distancing, and masks, we are pleased to announce it was another successful summer.

To all sailors, parents, SYC member, and staff, thank you for making this summer a success. 

We look forward to summer 2021 with the expectation that we will be able to expand programming closer to what it has been prior to 2020. 


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.

2020 Sailing School Brochure

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 Opti rigging, basic sail trim, launching & docking, tacking & jibing, righting a capsize, and more through a variety of fun activities. While Overboard Optis is many students' first time sailing solo, instructors can offer advanced instruction for more experienced sailors. 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 learn to sail or improve their skills as a sailor and team player. Students sail with a peer in a Vanguard 15 or solo in a Laser, and may switch between boats. 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 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. because it allows for comfortable and safe handling of a Vanguard 15 or Laser. 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. 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 peers. A variety of skills will be covered and 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

June - August Classes run Monday - Friday 

September After School Optis runs for two weeks; Monday, Wednesday, Friday; 4:00-6:30 pm

All classes are at Seattle Yacht Club
1807 E Hamlin St
Seattle, WA 98112



Classes Offered

June 15-19
Lil' Luffers 1, Overboard Optis 1, Junior Jibers 1, High School 1
June 22-26
Lil' Luffers 2, Overboard Optis 2, Junior Jibers 2, High School 2
July 6-10
Lil' Luffers 3, Opti Race Camp, V15 Race Camp, Laser Race Camp
July 13-17
Lil' Luffers 4, Overboard Optis 4, Junior Jibers 4, High School 4
July 20-24
Lil' Luffers 5, Overboard Optis 5, Junior Jibers 5, High School 5
July 27-31
Lil' Luffers 6, Overboard Optis 6, Junior Jibers 6, High School 6
August 3-7
Lil' Luffers 7, Overboard Optis 7, Junior Jibers 7, High School 7
August 10-14
Lil' Luffers 8, Overboard Optis 8, Junior Jibers 8, High School 8
August 17-21
Lil' Luffers 9, Overboard Optis 9, Junior Jibers 9, High School 9
August 24-28
Lil' Luffers 10, Overboard Optis 10, Junior Jibers 10, High School 10
September 14-25
After School Overboard Optis

Half Day Program Prices

$320 Non-Members
$300 Seattle Yacht Club Members

After School September Class

$300 Non-Members
$280 Seattle Yacht Club Members

Kick-Off BBQ

Event Cancelled
June 22, 2020

5:30 - 7:00 pm 

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 add-on with Sailing School registration.


Registration Info

Registration opens Wednesday, March 18 at 7 am. Seattle Yacht Club member registration opens Monday, March 16 at 7 am.

Life Jacket rentals. Life jackets are required for sailors on or near the water at Sailing School. If your child does not have a life jacket, you will have the option to rent one when you register for classes. Please be sure to rent a life jacket for the number of weeks your child is registered for Sailing School. 

Waitlist. You will be charged the full amount for a class if you join a waitlist. If your child does not get into the class they are on the waitlist for, you will receive a full refund on the Monday that the class starts. 

Seattle Yacht Club Member Discount. If you are a Seattle Yacht Club member, your $20 per class discount will be applied after you've selected your class(es) and entered your member number. Please be prepared to pay by charging to your member account. Seattle Yacht Club members, junior members, children of members, and grandchildren of members are eligible for the discount. 


Pricing, Fees, & Cancellations

  • Registration fee is $460 for non-members, $440 for SYC members
  • $10/week life jacket rental (optional with registration).
  • $15/person kick-off BBQ ticket (optional with registration).
  • $100 cancellation fee for cancellations up to one week/the Monday before class starts. No refund for cancellations 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 Seattle Yacht Club Sailing School? 

Instructor Information Page


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.