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Adult Sailing Instruction

These courses introduce you to the life-long joys of sailing. We invite you to sample our hospitality, learn more about sailing,our facilities here at RYC and our family-oriented membership.

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**If you don't see a time that fits your schedule, please let us know!  We are flexible and happy to help!  Call Holly Stevens at 585-342-5511x37**


Rochester Yacht Club (RYC) offers United States Sailing Association (USSA) certified sailing instruction to adults (18+), both members and non-members. Sets of lessons on the water offer personalized instruction, giving novices a non-intimidating opportunity to learn the basic skills of sailboat handling and care. Even experienced sailing crew can benefit by learning responsible helmsman ship. Students build confidence and gain experience while learning. Satisfactory completion of the Basic Keelboat course provides US SAILING certification-of-competency to skipper a sailboat. This can help wherever one wants to rent or charter a sailboat or become a starter crew member on any racing sailboat. Private lessons are also available.


For your convenience, the courses are offered throughout the week in the morning, afternoon, and evening. Class lengths will vary from 3-hours to 6 hours depending on the session to better accommodate schedules of our participants. Whether you have all summer or one weekend, we will have a course and time frame to meet your needs. Unlike commercial schools, we try to separate lessons rather than holding them on consecutive days, to offer you time to review appropriate textbook sections between lessons and hopefully to expose you to variations in the weather. Classes will run from early May through September In-process classes must be completed by the end of September. After that, weather usually deteriorates, often making sailing instruction unpleasant.


Our program uses US Sailing’s “Basic Keelboat” textbook series. These books include Basic Keelboat, Basic Cruising, Bareboat Cruising, & Coastal Navigation. It is very comprehensive, but not overly technical. The text is understandable and includes excellent pictorials of boats, terminology, wind-sail relationships and knots. We suggest that you only skim your copy prior to your lessons. Reviewing appropriate details after each lesson will help clinch your learning experience. Textbooks are included in the price of each lesson.

Clothing & Equipment

Lake Ontario weather is often very different than that on land. In early summer, it is much colder; in fall, it is often warmer. You may be exposed to wind, rain, spray, cold and heat, and strong direct and reflected sunlight. U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets are provided if you don’t have your own; they will be worn at all times while on the water. If you’re uncertain about how to dress, before you go out, ask your instructor about the day’s anticipated weather.

If you have any questions or would like assistance in selecting a course, please contact Holly Stevens:
E-mail: hstevens@rochesteryc.com
Work Phone: (585) 342-5511 x37

  • Discover Sailing Experience
    • Members: $25.00
      Non-Members: $40.00
      Groups of 3 or more may arrange private outings.

      The RYC Discover Sailing Experience Course is the perfect introduction into sailing. You can participate in a fun two hour sail with a partner, group of friends, work colleagues, or family for a minimal fee. Discover your love for the seas and sailing on this short cruise.

      Discover Sailing is a great opportunity to find out just how fun, safe, accessible, and affordable sailing is and enjoy the great social club environment. A qualified certified Instructor will be out on the water with you, ensuring your safety. Discover Sailing Experiences are held on a Keelboat. Our Keelboats allow you to learn to sail without the fear of capsizing. The Discover Sailing Experience is ideal for people who have never been sailing and have no sailing knowledge.

  • Learn to Sail
    • Members: $320.00
      Non-Members: $395.00
      **Prices include text**

      The 12 hours of “Learn to Sail” are a prerequisite for “Basic Keel boat”. They offer beginners, and experienced crew members alike, hands-on sailing experience and confidence to helm a sailboat with the knowledge of the Rules of the Road.

      Instruction begins in the boats (Ideal 18 or Sonar), on the water, in the first lesson. After about an hour’s orientation you will sail the boat out! You can learn how to rig and secure sails, lines and gear; steer by the wind; trim sails properly; recover an overboard victim; dock and undock your sailboat. You’ll tie the few basic nautical knots, be exposed to nautical terms and can learn the Rules of the Road on the water.

      Note: If an experienced crew can demonstrate these skills in the first lesson, he/she may advance directly to the Basic Keel boat lessons without additional charge. Participants must be at least 18 years of age.

  • Basic Keelboat
    • Members: $320.00
      Non-Members: $395.00
      **Prices include text**

      Pre-Requisite: Learn to Sail, or ability to demonstrate skills listed above.
      More info click here: US Sailing Basic Keelboat Course

      The twelve-hours of “Basic Keel boat” provide the Basic Keelboat graduate will have successfully demonstrated the ability to responsibly skipper and crew a simple daysailing keelboat in familiar waters in light to moderate wind and sea conditions.

      After passing the Basic Keel boat on-water evaluation and the US SAILING multiple-choice written test, you will be deemed competent to sail a small keel boat safely on your own. You earn a Basic Keel boat sticker for your official US SAILING Logbook, certifying your sailing skill level. This can help qualify you to charter sailboats from rental agencies here and abroad. You also receive one year’s US SAILING membership.

      Note: Participants must be at least 18 years of age.

  • Coastal Navigation Certification
    • Members: $400.00
      Non-Members: $600.00
      **Prices include all materials**

      Since time immemorial, sailors have used and refined the techniques of “Deductive Reckoning” navigation to find their way in limited visibility or when out of sight of land. The Coastal Navigation graduate will have demonstrated the art of traditional navigation techniques and the ability to integrate electronic navigation tools into the navigation plan. In this 28-hour classroom course, you will learn all the tools, methods and applications of these time-honored skills, and discover the freedom and confidence that mastering navigation brings. Students should have completed a Basic Keelboat certification or have comparable experience prior to enrolling.

      If interested in participating, please email Holly Stevens to obtain more information about the next course offering!
      E-mail: hstevens@rochesteryc.com
      Work Phone:  585-342-5511 x37

  • On Ramp to Racing

    • Stage 3: Wednesday Night Cruising Canvas Racing – Every Wednesday starting May 15th
      More intense racing. Crew will be able to go out on “host boats” with coaches to help improve their sailing skills each race.
  • Refresher Course
    • Members: $25.00/hour
      Non-Members: $50.00/hour

      Are you unsure of how everything works, but you're dreading letting another summer go by without sailing? This is the course for you! We are aware that not everyone can get on a boat as often as they would like and that everyone can get a little rusty after the off-season... but there's no need to retake a whole sailing course. If you just need to brush up your boat handling skills, let us help you get back on board! We make it our goal to give you the knowledge and confidence to safely get on the water again.

      Note: This refresher course is intended for intermediate sailors.

      Classes are scheduled as requested. Classes are intended to review skills as requested by participants. A minimum of two participants is required to run a course.

  • Private Lessons
    • Members: $55.00/hour
      Non-Members: $80.00/hour

      Our Certified Instructors may also be booked to provide private lessons for more advanced lessons or you may opt for additional sailing time with an instructor if you feel the need before going for final Keelboat qualification. Private lessons are held on Ideal 18's or Sonars.

      Note: Participants must be at least 18 years of age.

  • Reserve a Sailboat
    • RYC members are welcome to our Club Sonars, Ideals and Catalina 25!  Once Cleared by an adult sail instructor, you are welcome to reserve a boat for a for a half day or full day.  Simply use our online registration system to reserve a boat by clicking HERE.

      Please contact Holly Stevens with any issues at hstevens@rochesteryc.com
  • Powerboat Handling
    • Members:  $280
      Non-Members:  $330

      This sixteen hour, on-the-water course is for anyone who wants to learn how to safely operate a powerboat or improve their on-the-water boat handling skills. No experience necessary. The topics are covered using a variety of techniques in the classroom and dockside, emphasizing on-the-water practical application of all skills. http://www.uspowerboating.com/Class needs at least two students in order for it to run.