About Us

Columbia Sailing School is a highly regarded, diverse, and optimally located program hosted on the docks of the Columbia Yacht Club right off Randolph Street on Lake Michigan. Our youth programs provide education, from introductory sailing summer camps to advanced racing teams. Our youth alumni develop lifelong skills and friendships skills that lead to opportunities in high school, college, and international competition as well as life on the water. Our coaches are trained to keep children safe, having fun, and learning. 


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 that are tailored to both 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 staff, check out our fleet, get more information on Columbia Yacht Club.


Meet the Staff

Bio Pic-Kurt.jpg

Kurt Thomsen - On the Water Director

​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.


Jemima Korbel - Office Administrator

Jemima started sailing in Australia when she was nine and has been on the water ever since. Coming stateside, she grew up competing in Opti's, C420's, and keelboats. Jemima has sailed the Race to Mackinaw Island twice on a Sabre 402, where her boat won in its division both times. Jemima was the captain of the Lane Tech High School Team and currently attends Indiana University. She has been working at the Sailing School since 2017 and is a US Sailing Level 1 Instructor. 


Our Fleet

sail boat fleet

The Columbia Sailing School fleet consists of the following:

  • 10 Boston Whalers

  • 3 RIBs

  • 6 Colgate 26's

  • 24 C420's

  • 12 Prams

  • 6 2-person Kayaks

  • 8 Stand-Up Paddleboards

  • 2 Hobie Mirage Tandem Island