ASA Certified Sailing School - Black Rock Sailing School, RI

ASA Featured Instructor: Captain Brenton Lockridge, Black Rock Sailing School

Brenton Lockridge went to sailing camp at age seven. At age sixteen he was teaching sailing in Westport, CT. At 19, he was delivering boats between Cape Cod and Penobscot Bay. In between, he developed and administered sailing curriculum to all underclassmen at the Maine Maritime Academy and he eventually became a certified Skipper in the school’s Cruising program.  In 2008, he founded Black Rock Sailing School and the school has been recognized as an ASA Outstanding School multiple times and Brenton has been named an ASA Outstanding Instructor over 8 times.

Captain Brenton Lockridge is this month’s Featured Instructor.

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ASA: What got you into sailing?

Captain Brenton Lockridge:

My father passed down his love of boating and the water, while my mother passed down her wanderlust and love of adventure. I was doomed from the beginning.

I grew up power cruising the Chesapeake Bay on my family’s 38ft Hatteras. At age seven, I was dragged into a sleep-away camp – literally kicking and screaming. Sailing was one of the activities, and by the second day of camp, I was hooked.

Soon after, my family moved onto a lake in northern Virginia and my dad bought me my first sailboat – a Force 5. From about seventh grade, I sat in my share of detentions because I often skipped class whenever it was sunny and windy. I started teaching sailing when I moved to Connecticut at age fifteen, and haven’t looked back.

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ASA: What was your most memorable student or class?
Captain Brenton Lockridge:

I started teaching sailing in 1991, and have been teaching full time since 1995, so there are too many memorable students, classes, and experiences.

I enjoy watching every student discover the sport for themselves, and I enjoy introducing students to the many aspects that sailing has to offer. Great friendships have been made over the decades!

Just in the past 48 hours, two graduates returned from another one year Caribbean cruise, one graduate departed on his first ocean passage aboard the 40ft catamaran I sold him, two graduates reached out who are currently living in France, waiting for the factory to reopen to finish building their new expedition sailboat, two graduates who just purchased a spinnaker for their boat scheduled a private lesson, another grad planning to cruise to the Bahamas reached out seeking advice, and future students have called in to register for upcoming summer classes.

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ASA: Your favorite place to sail?
Captain Brenton Lockridge:

If there is a clean breeze, some navigable water, and a decent boat, I will sail anywhere! I love lake sailing, as it brings back fond memories of my childhood. The Chesapeake Bay, Long Island Sound, and Narragansett Bay are basically large “lakes” in my mind, and I feel very at home in these waters.

My time at Maine Maritime Academy opened my eyes to offshore sailing/racing. I thoroughly enjoy doing one or two ocean passages a year, but I prefer the challenges and scenery that coastal cruising provides.

I enjoy sailing the colder, more challenging waters of Maine as much as I love the Caribbean. I love exploring the Intracoastal Waterway along the entire US east coast as much as I love small inland lakes. Although I feel like I have sailed many places, it is humbling to look at a world map and see the majority of earth I still need to explore.

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ASA: Why do you sail?
Captain Brenton Lockridge:

Ever since I was seven, there is something about sailing that excites and relaxes me at the same time. I have seen “horse whisperers” in the movies. I’d like to think of myself as a “boat whisperer.” As an instructor, I have had a LOT of opportunities to take a boat that is completely overpowered and out of control, and within seconds, settle it down, and make things peaceful again. Students see this, and learn that they too can be in control with just a few quick adjustments.

Most of my “zen” moments have occurred on a boat. It is pure magic when you feel yourself settling in, connecting with your boat, and becoming “one.” I love to teach my students to relax, close their eyes, and find the groove using the “force.” The boat talks to you. You must listen, and become fluent in its language. I have sailed for hours with my eyes closed (checking my surroundings every once in a while!), yet the tell tails are always perfect, the knot meter at a consistent high, and a comfortable amount of heel.

As with many things, sailing takes a minute to learn, and a lifetime to master. Once you feel pretty great about your boat handling, you realize you need to study more about weather forecasting. Once you become an amateur meteorologist, you realize you need to study more about navigation. Aerodynamics, hydrodynamics, docking, anchoring, voyage planning – the list goes on and on. I love learning. I love the challenge. I love nature. I love the freedom.

To me sailing is one of the last frontiers. Of course there are rules and regulations, but for the most part, you can do whatever you want, and go wherever you want out there! Taking my boat out sailing during a world pandemic or zombie apocalypse is probably the BEST thing to do!

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ASA: What do people not know about sailing that they should?

Captain Brenton Lockridge:

Sailing is, in fact, easy with a little bit of practice. Too many people come into the sport thinking that it is a LOT of work. I have sailed from Boston, MA to St Thomas, USVI and never tacked or gybed once. I’ve sailed from Rhode Island to the Bahamas single handed and rarely put my book/s down. If anything, I needed to make “work” to move around every now and then!

A monkey can teach someone how to tack, but I take pride in showing people how to slow things down, make themselves (and their crew) comfortable, and tack using brains – rather than muscle. It is like learning how to dance.

Sure, it takes five or ten minutes to set everything up, but after that, you can make sailing what you want! Racing can and will be a LOT of “work.” Cruising rarely needs to be “work” if you plan properly.

If you like to relax, if you like to explore, if you like adventure, if you like becoming one with nature, if you like the water and the wind, if you like to challenge yourself both mentally and physically, and if you like having the ability to completely disconnect from the rest of the world, then sailing is an excellent activity for you to try – Brenton Lockridge

You can find and sail with Brenton Lockridge at Black Rock Sailing in Massachusetts and Rhode Island.