I didn’t grow up on a boat. I had been to the ocean and watched sailboats from the beach and I was intrigued. It wasn’t until I had a job and a few responsibilities that I was able to take the plunge and buy a Catalina 27. I didn’t know how to sail, but I owned a boat. My children, their sailing story is different. They grew up with the Pacific Ocean as their playground.
Everybody has a different sailing story but it all starts with a passion for the water and good sailing instruction.
The American Sailing Association aims to teach as many sailors as possible. The simple fact is that we love to sail and we want to introduce it to everyone. Stop any sailor and asked them about their last sail and you’ll be in for a long conversation. Ask a racer about their last race and they’ll talk your ear off about sail trim, currents, and the need for more speed.
How does your sailing story begin? It should begin with a quality sailing education from the American Sailing Association. You want to be safe. You want to be confident. You want to be competent.
My children learned to sail when they came out of the womb but their confidence comes from instruction, experience, and the fact that their parents had a good foundation rooted in a sailing education. (NOTE: The young version of me would say that those lucky boys are spoiled brats as I would have given anything to sail all the time.)
If you are ready to start look up your local sailing school and get ready to go on a lifelong adventure. We can’t all grow up on boats!
Here are just a few of the reasons why a sailing school is the best place to learn:
1. Expert Instructors
Maybe you have a very good friend who is a master sailor, owns a boat, and has the time to take you out and teach you everything you need to know. But if that’s not the case, the place to find someone like that is an ASA sailing school! ASA instructors are highly trained professionals who have dedicated their lives to sailing, spending countless hours on the water and in the classroom. In order to become an ASA instructor they must offer proof of substantial sailing and teaching experience and undergo a rigorous Instructor Qualifying Clinic. In other words, only the best make it!
2. Comprehensive Curriculum
There are many books, online tutorials, and videos on how to sail, and some of them are very good. But those alone can’t teach you to sail. On-water experience, combined with study, is critical, as there are some things you can only learn by doing. How does it feel to steer a boat, or haul a line? How does a boat respond to the wind and waves? It’s about more than just getting your sea legs, it’s about really understanding how a sailboat works! And after all, isn’t being on the water the reason you’re doing this in the first place? That brings me to my next point…
3. Skip the Painful (and Expensive) Trial-and-Error
Learning a new skill or hobby is always a process of making mistakes and learning from them. But it shouldn’t be a shot in the dark, which is why sailing lessons from a qualified instructor can save you a lot of time, money, and stress. Sailing can be easy when you’ve had the right preparation and training, but if you’re unprepared it can turn into a frustrating experience. In a worst-case-scenario, it could even be dangerous. Much better to have an expert sailing instructor along to guide you through any uncertain moments. That way you’ll be making your beginner’s mistakes in a safe, constructive environment.
Here’s a fun fact: Most people, even avid sailors, don’t own a boat. Your local sailing school, however, DOES own a boat–probably a bunch of them. The best part of all? They’ll let you use it. A huge part of ASA’s mission is making sailing accessible to everyone, so that your education doesn’t end with certification. You don’t need to splash the cash on a brand new Beneteau or Hunter–we do it so you don’t have to. In addition to teaching sailing, many of our schools also operate sailing clubs, racing regattas, and double as charter companies, meaning you can rent their boats for an afternoon, a weekend, or a fortnight, whatever suits you. Once you start taking ASA classes, you’re part of our community, and we’re determined to provide opportunities to practice your skills and enjoy everything sailing has to offer.
Not only will you be able to share the sport of sailing with your friends and family, at your sailing school you’re sure to meet like-minded people, both students and instructors, and who knows where that will lead? Maybe you’ll put together a team for Saturday night beer can races, or just find a group to go daysailing with. Perhaps you’ll even end up going on a flotilla in some exotic locale? Our instructors lead dozens of them every year, all over the world. (Here’s a list of ASA’s Charters, by the way.) Once you start sailing, there’s just no telling where it might take you.