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two colgates
sailing practice

Adult Sailing

Columbia Sailing School offers lessons for every age and ability level of sailor. Join us for a fun and educational experience in any one of our popular classes, from our First Sail Experience, to our Advanced Racing Courses. Classes are taught by our US Sailing Certified Instructors in our Colgate 26 Sailboats. Whether you've never been on a boat before, want to brush up on your skills, or are interested in meeting new people in a fun and exciting sport, we have something for you!
Check out our Learn to Sail and Skipjacks Courses!

Never been sailing and not sure you’ll like it? Our First Sail experience is a 2-hour chance to get out on the water and feel the exhilaration of sailing. Our Learn to Sail course is two sessions that will begin to develop a foundation of sailing skills.  Learning boat parts and their purposes, how to rig and de-rig a boat, points of sail, and basic boat handling are all skills that you will pick up in this introductory course.  We’ll get you sailing the boat in your very first lesson!


US Sailing Basic Keelboat Certification Course. This 20-hour course is taught in our Colgate 26 keelboats, with a maximum of 4 students per instructor and includes a comprehensive work book. You will learn all aspects of sailing, docking and how to safely captain a boat.  Upon completion of the course and a written test, students receive US Sailing Basic Keelboat Certification which is accepted at many locations (including Columbia) to rent a boat without a captain.  


Sailing is a life-long sport, and the Columbia Sailing School give students options once they have mastered the basics. Throughout the year we offer Clinics and Seminars both on and off the water, as well as a chance to book one or our certified instructors for private lessons.  Join our Wednesday Night Racing in the Chicago Beer Can Series or take the Intermediate/Advanced Learn to Race course to hone your new skills and learn about the competitive side of the sport. We see some of our most adventurous students buy sailboats and head cruising or join a charter and boat sharing program such as our own Season Pass program for graduates of Columbia Sailing School.

We do offer Group and Private Lessons, if you are interested in learning more, please contact 




Intermediate/Advanced Sailing Classes

Sign Up for a COLSS Season Rental Pass

Attend Clinics and Seminars at COLYC!

Buy or Charter a boat and go sailing!

Adult Sailing FAQ's


Q: What should I bring to sailing lessons?
A: Come prepared to be on the water rain or shine (unless it is a thunderstorm). We recommend checking the weather before you come down for to the Sailing School. Pack a life vest, water bottle, sun screen, towel, hat, sunglasses, and shoes that can get wet.

Q: Do I need a life vest?
A: Each student is required to have his/her own life vest. Personal Flotation Devices (PFD's) should be USCG approved and properly fitted at the store. USCG Type III PFD's are recommended for sailing school. Prices usually start around $25/vest. The Sailing School does have a few extras on hand for those who occasionally forget.

Q: Where can I park for Columbia Sailing School?
A: We recommend parking in the DuSable Parking Lot, located under Lake Shore Drive adjacent to the Columbia Yacht Club Member parking lot.

Q: What happens when the weather is too bad to sail?
A: We only take students on the water if conditions are safe. If the weather doesn’t allow us to go onto the water, we will have classroom instruction.

Q: Do we have class on July 4th?
A: We do not have class on July 4th when it falls on a week day. ​

Q: Do I have to be a member to register for classes at Columbia?

A: No Yacht Club Membership is required to sign up for Columbia Sailing School courses as they are two separate organizations. You will receive a temporary membership to Columbia Yacht Club for the duration of your classes, to utilize the bar and restaurant at the Club.

Q: What if I have to cancel?
A: Students who cancel three weeks prior to the program start date receive a full refund. Within two weeks prior to the start date, the student receives a 50% refund. Inside of two weeks there will be no refund.


We'd love to hear from you


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