The Columbia Sailing School, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, is highly regarded, diverse, and optimally located on the docks of the Columbia Yacht Club right off Randolph Street on Lake Michigan, with coaches trained to keep children safe, have fun, and learn.
Our youth programs provide education, from introductory sailing summer camps to advanced racing teams. Our youth alumni develop lifelong skills and friendships that lead to opportunities in high school, college, and international competitions, as well as life on the water.
Our adult sailing programs focus on new and intermediate sailors and are taught on our fleet of Colgate 26 sailboats. Our instructors are a combination of qualified and highly experienced volunteers and trained US Sailing certified instructors. Our programs cover introductions to sailing and racing.
We offer powerboat lessons tailored to adults and children (12+). It’s never too early to become familiar with the operation of a motorized vessel, whether it’s your sailboat’s dinghy, a racing mark set boat, or your go-fast boat.
Meet the Team
Kurt grew up sailing with Columbia Yacht Club since he was six years old. He began sailing in Optis, Sunfish and competed in C420’s on a regional and national level. In 2018, Kurt was selected to join US Sailing’s National Faculty, where he works with leaders in sailing from around the country to help build the national standards and best practices for sailing in the US. Kurt is a US Sailing Level 1, 2, 3 Instructor/Coach Trainer, a Powerboat Instructor, and Keelboat Instructor Trainer. He is a Club Race Officer working on his Regional Certification. He has participated in running races across the country, including the Americas Cup World Series in Chicago and multiple World Cup Sailing events in Miami. Kurt has been running the Columbia Sailing Program for the last fifteen years, and the program has flourished under his direction.
In 2019, Kurt was selected as a representative of US Sailing into the International Coaching Enrichment Program. Here he joined an international group of coaches chosen to represent their country and sport at the US Olympic Training Facility in Colorado Springs.
Kurt also has experience coaching adult teams in various classes focusing on building team cohesion, boat handling, and tactical skills.
One of the most rewarding things for Kurt is witnessing the growth in confidence and independence as sailors progress through our program.
Dalton grew up sailing with the Hoofers Youth Sailing Program in Madison, Wisconsin. He began sailing on Badger Techs, C420s, and many other inland lake boats during his time there. Starting in 2013, Dalton taught at the same program as a youth and adult instructor and continued to be a part of the program as the Assistant Head of Instruction during the 2021 sailing season. In addition to his role at the Hoofers Sailing Program, he was an Assistant Coach for the University of Wisconsin – Madison Sailing Team for the 2021 fall season.
Dalton attended the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities. He obtained a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Science, Policy, and Management and uses his educational experience for youth education and outreach programs. At Columbia Sailing School, he continues developing our STEM education courses and curriculum for our Youth Sailing Program.
Dalton is currently a US Level 2 Sailing Instructor, a US Sailing Level 2 REACH Educator, and is taking more US Sailing Instructor courses as they become available. He enjoys being a part of a program that offers everyone a chance to get out on the water and enjoy the sport of sailing.
Tristan was born and raised in Bermuda, where he began sailing Optimists at the age of 12. From then on, he was keen to gain experience sailing as many different vessels as possible. With a global education in Germany, Canada, and Japan, Tristan obtained a bachelor’s degree in Biogeosciences before returning home to focus his career on sailing.
Tristan has extensive experience with powerboats, dinghies, and keelboats, and his passion for sailing continues to take him to many places worldwide. He has helped manage large-scale nautical events, including the America’s Cup and Sail GP. Most recently, he competed in the 2022 Blokart World Championship in New Zealand, where he placed 3rd overall. Tristan is keen to bring his experience to Columbia Sailing School and to continue developing the Adult Keelboat Program!
Summer Youth Sailing Staff
Betsy started sailing at Columbia Sailing School during the summer, Betsy is a rising senior at Jones College Prep and has been a member of the Columbia Sailing School since 2019. Betsy has participated in the fall and spring programs, on the Jones Varsity Sailing Team. Last summer was her first year working for the summer program, and Betsy is currently completing her US Sailing Level 1 certification. In addition, Betsy is certified in CPR, and Advanced Child Care by the American Red Cross. She can’t wait to get on the water this summer!
Maddie has sailed 420s at Columbia since 2019, both fall and spring seasons on the Jones Varsity Sailing Team, where she served as team captain during the 2020-21 school year, as well as summer 2021 on the C420 Race Team. Maddie will be starting her first year at Northwestern University in the fall! She is US Sailing Level 1 Instructor certified and CPR certified by the American Red Cross. She has supervised Aftercare and has been an assistant Pram Instructor for the past three summers. Maddie is super excited to coach young sailors this summer!
Frances started sailing on Lake Michigan when she was eight and has been in love with sailing ever since. She joined Columbia Sailing School's race team in 2019, where she qualified for the Chubb US Junior Champs in c420s. She graduated from Walter Payton College Prep in 2021 and was on her varsity high school sailing team for 4 years and elected co-captain for her senior year. In 2020 she received the William Fox Senior Trophy for best female sailor. She is currently a rising sophomore at Hobart and William Smith Colleges, where she is an environmental studies major. She is a prominent member of the HWS sailing team and has helped bring them to nationals this spring. This will be Frances's second year coaching at Columbia, and she is excited to spend the summer helping kids learn to love sailing just as much as she does!
Kate is a first year at University of California Santa Barbara. She is a double major in Communication and Art. Kate is on the UCSB Sailing Team and the Women’s Team. She has been sailing since she was 9 and competed all throughout high school in 420s. In her first year at UCSB, she traveled across the country to sail and attended women’s nationals in May. This is her second year of coaching sailing and her first summer at Columbia Sailing School. Kate can't wait to get out on the water this summer!
David started sailing in Optis on Lake Michigan at age nine. He later sailed in Picos for two years before moving on to C420s. David attended Jones College Prep High School where he was on the sailing team since the beginning of his freshman year. He served as an elected co-captain of the team during his junior year and as a member of the team’s leadership council during his senior year, and he led the Jones team to qualify for numerous championships. This fall, David will be attending Brown University where he looks forward to sailing on the school’s club sailing team. This will be David's third summer teaching keelboats at Columbia, and he is looking forward to getting on the water!
Ben has sailed 420s for four years and is currently captain of the U-High Varsity Sailing Team. He was a Youth Keelboat Instructor last summer and coached the JV/Developmental Practice in the fall and spring. Ben was formerly a lifeguard and is currently completing his US Sailing Level 1 Instructor Certification. Ben is looking forward to a fun-filled summer on the water and ready to share his love of sailing with the community!
Sydney started sailing on Lake Michigan when she was nine years old, and joined Columbia Sailing School when she was thirteen. She was the captain of the Lane Tech Varsity Sailing Team and was a member for four years. This coming year, she is attending the University of Wisconsin Madison as an environmental engineering major and is excited to be on the sailing team there. Sydney is a US Sailing Level 1 Instructor and this will be her third year coaching at Columbia. She is most looking forward to sharing the sport she loves with kids and making learning fun and engaging.