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Adult Summer Classes 

Columbia Sailing School offers lessons for every age and ability level of sailor. Join us for a fun and educational experience in any of our popular classes, from our First Sail Experience to our Racing Courses. Classes are taught by our US Sailing Certified Instructors in either 420 Dinghies or Colgate 26/ Beneteau 28 Keelboats. 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!


First Sail

Sign up for First Sail and get a chance to experience in person why sailing is one of the most exhilarating activities! This unique on-the-water opportunity is designed to provide a memorable experience that will motivate newcomers to continue sailing. Participants will learn about sailing from one of our instructors on a Colgate 26 keelboat. On your First Sail, you can start learning basic sailing terminology or sit back and relax.  This two-hour experience is for anyone, so pick one date and join us on the water!

First Sail

First Sail


Colgate 26.jpg

Learn to Sail

Through our Learn to Sail course, students develop a foundation of sailing skills. In this introductory course, you will learn boat parts and their purposes, how to rig and de-rig a boat, points of sail, and basic boat handling skills. Be prepared to get on the water in your very first lesson! Students are asked to pick two class dates that work with their schedule.

Learn to Sail



US Sailing Basic Keelboat Certification Course

The US Sailing Basic Keelboat Certification Course is a 20-hour course taught in our Colgate 26 keelboats. Each boat will have four students per instructor and includes a comprehensive workbook. With lessons both on the water and in the classroom, you will learn all aspects of sailing, docking, and how to captain a boat safely. Upon completing the 20-hour course and a written test, students will receive US Sailing Basic Keelboat Certification, which is accepted at many locations (including Columbia Sailing School) to rent a boat without a captain.


There are no prerequisites for this class; however, many participants with no experience elect to participate in a First Sail to gain experience before signing up for the Basic Keelboat Certification Course. Choose either a weekday session (6 classes) or a weekend session (4 classes) to complete this course!

Week 1: Introduction to Colgate 26 & Sailing area

Week 2: Points of sail & Upwind Sailing

Week 3: Wind Awareness & Downwind Sailing

Week 4: Seamanship & Person Overboard Recovery

Week 5: Sail controls & course review  

Week 6: On-water evaluation & Classroom examination

Basic Keelboat

Introduction to Racing

This comprehensive six-session course is designed for experienced sailors (US Sailing Basic Keelboat graduates) who are looking to enhance their sailing skills and understand the art of using spinnakers in racing. Whether you're an intermediate or advanced sailor, this course will provide you with the knowledge and techniques to confidently handle spinnakers and further improve your racing performance.


Week 1: Introduction to Spinnakers and Racing

Week 2: Spinnaker Rigging and Setup

Week 3: Spinnaker Handling Technique

Week 4: Spinnaker Strategy and Race Tactics

Week 5: Race Day and Drills

Week 6: Advanced Spinnaker Techniques and Q&A

By the end of this course, participants will be well-prepared to confidently handle spinnakers in a racing environment, make informed decisions about sail selection and trimming, and effectively contribute to their sailing team's success. Whether you're aiming to compete in the Wednesday Night Beer Can race series (Intermediate Racing Class) or simply improve your sailing skills, this course will provide you with the knowledge and experience you need.

Intro to Racing

Intermediate Racing Class

Our Intermediate Racing course is fun and competitive for sailors with prior spinnaker and racing experience. You will continue to develop your seamanship skills while focusing on using a spinnaker and mastering the Racing Rules of Sailing.  During six comprehensive sessions, we will focus on enhancing your racing skills and techniques while actively participating in the Wednesday Beer Can Race series each week.


Week 1: Rigging, Spinnaker Hoist/Douse Techniques

Week 2: Starting Techniques

Week 3: Course variations and Rules recapitulation

Week 4: Upwind Sailing

Week 5: Mark Rounding

Week 6: Downwind Sailing


Before enrolling in this course, please remember that active movement around the boat and familiarity with racing tactics are essential. We encourage you to reach out if you have questions or need further clarification.


As part of this program, you will actively participate in the Wednesday Night Racing series, the Chicago Inshore Beer Can Series.  You will be competing against other Colgate 26 sailors from the Chicago area. 


Additionally, you will be invited to attend Wednesday night social gatherings hosted in the tent on the second level of the Columbia Yacht Club, allowing you to socialize with fellow sailors participating in the series. With hundreds of sailors joining our Wednesday Series, this presents an excellent opportunity to expand your network in the sailing community and meet new people who share your passion for the sport!

Intermediate Racing Class

US Sailing Basic Cruising

The US Sailing Basic Cruising course is designed to equip sailors with the knowledge and practical skills necessary to responsibly skipper and crew an auxiliary powered cruising sailboat during daylight hours, within sight of land, in moderate wind and sea conditions. By the end of this course, participants will be prepared to confidently command a keelboat up to 32 feet in length and safely navigate various cruising scenarios. 


This course builds upon the foundation of the US Sailing Basic Keelboat Certification (perquisite to join Basic Cruising). The course is divided into six sessions, each addressing specific aspects of cruising and seamanship:


Weekend 1:

-Preparation and Safety

-Crew Operations and Skills

Weekend 2:

-Boat Control and Navigation  

-Heavy Weather Sailing and Seamanship


Upon successful completion of the US Sailing Basic Cruising course, participants will be well-prepared to take command of a cruising sailboat and navigate confidently in a variety of conditions, ensuring the safety and enjoyment of their crew and passengers.

Basic Crusing
420 Progression Class

420 Dinghy Progression Class

In our Adult Dinghy Progression Class, you will learn the fundamentals of sailing on 420 sailboats. This course is designed for both beginners and those with some sailing experience, providing a comprehensive introduction to the world of dinghy sailing.


The 420 sailing dinghy is a classic in the world of small sailboats. Known for its exceptional versatility and thrilling performance, this two-person dinghy has been a favorite among sailors of all skill levels for decades.


Sailors should be prepared to get wet, and a reasonable level of physical fitness is required as you should be capable of pulling yourself back into the boat after a capsize.  This progression course is broken down into six 2.5 hour sessions: 

Week 1: Capsize and Safety

Week 2: Sailing Fundamentals

Week 3: Points of Sail, and Wind awareness

Week 4: Upwind Sailing

Week 5: Downwind Sailing

Week 6: Introduction to Spinnakers and Racing  

420 Dinghy Progression Class
Women on the Water


Set sail on a transformative journey of empowerment, adventure, and camaraderie with our W.O.W (Women on the Water) sailing course. Designed exclusively for women, this course offers a unique opportunity to discover the joys of sailing while building confidence, mastering new skills, and forging lasting friendships. Whether you're a complete beginner or looking to enhance your sailing expertise, our team of experienced female coaches is here to guide you every nautical mile of the way.


This course is broken down into two 2.5 hour sessions.  Commencing on a tiller steered Colgate 26, before advancing onto a helm steered inboard diesel cruising keelboat.  


Week 1: Intro to Keel Boating & Sailing Fundamentals: 

Safety, Wind Awareness, Sail trim, Basic Navigation, and parts of the boat will all be discussed in detail during your first session on the Colgate 26.  There will be an introductory classroom session before launching our boats.

Week 2: Intermediate Keelboat Sailing/ Cruising:
You will progress onto sailing a helm-steered, inboard diesel keelboat.  Either a Catalina 34, or a Beneteau 28. Your coaches will highlight the differences and similarities between the vessels you have sailed on.  We will discuss seamanship skills, and POB (person overboard recovery).

This ladies only, class will leave you with a solid sailing foundation, and eager for more!   

Women on the Water
Tiller Time
Tiller Time

Tiller Time

Join us for Tiller Time, an exclusive sailing program designed for graduates of our Basic Keelboat Certification Course or members of Columbia Yacht Club seeking to enhance their skills before renting boats independently. Tiller Time offers a valuable opportunity to practice the skills learned in the fast-paced Basic Keelboat Course. Led by experienced instructors, you'll sail alongside up to four other participants, honing your techniques and building confidence on the water.  

Advanced Skipjacks
Private Lessons


Skipjack is a great social introduction to sailing held by the members of the Columbia Yacht Club. Members use their own boats and perform on-the-water instruction during each session. If you are interested in learning to sail different boats, this is a great opportunity! The class sizes are large, which allows students to meet many boat captains and other students. It’s a tremendously fun program and helps people get comfortable on different boats and learn the basics of a wonderful sport. Lifelong relationships are developed here, and students who have taken Skipjacks become cruising and/or racing crew with the captains they meet!

Are you ready to begin your nautical adventure?

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