steve katie stacy colgate
two colgates
sailing practice

Adult Sailing

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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 FAQs


​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 leave for your lesson at Columbia Sailing School. Pack a life vest, water bottle, sunscreen, towel, hat, sunglasses, shoes that can get wet, and maybe a change of clothes.

Q: Do I need to buy my own life vest?

A: We have life jackets that you can borrow. However, if you would like to purchase your own life jacket, it should be United States Coast Guard (USCG) approved, and we strongly recommend Type III PDFs.

Q: Where can I park at 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. Since our Columbia Yacht Club parking lot is small, only members who have purchased a pass are permitted to park there and unknown vehicles could be towed.


Q: What happens when the weather is too bad to sail?

A: We are always staying alert about changing weather conditions and we only take students out on the water if conditions are safe. If the weather doesn’t allow us to go onto the water, we will have on-the-dock or classroom instruction.


Q: Do we have a class on July 4th?

A: We do not have class on July 4th when it falls on a weekday. ​

Q: Do I have to be a Columbia Yacht Club member to register for classes at the Columbia Sailing School?

A: No, Columbia Yacht Club Membership is not required to sign up for Columbia Sailing School courses as they are two separate organizations. 

Q: What if I have to cancel?

A: Students who cancel three weeks before the program start date receive a full refund. Within two weeks before the start date, the student receives a 50% refund. Inside of two weeks, there will be no refund.


We would love to hear from you!


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