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Learn to sail

Yachting New Zealand have developed a range of courses for learning to sail small boats (dinghies) and big boats (keelboats) which are offered at clubs and sailing schools around the country.

These courses are delivered by qualified Yachting New Zealand coaches and completion of each level comes with a certificate/qualification.

Yachting New Zealand’s learn to sail programme is the only nationally recognised learn to sail programme in New Zealand. These courses are also internationally recognised by World Sailing.

Join the club
Yacht clubs are a fun, social and safe environment in which to learn to sail and make new friends. New sailors can benefit from the advice, support and experience of others. Programmes are taught by qualified coaches, providing a great experience. Joining a club is a great way to find out about sailing opportunities and to participate in racing and cruising events.

Is it expensive?
It doesn’t have to be. In most cases you don’t need to own a boat to learn how to sail. Fees vary for lessons and equipment hire and are often cheaper for members.

What to wear?
The most important item to wear is a personal floatation device (PFD), also known as a lifejacket. There are a range available and your instructor will inform you of the most suitable for the boat you are sailing. In many cases, a PFD will be provided.

As sailing is an outdoor pursuit, your clothing needs to protect you from the elements - sun, wind, water. In small boats, water-friendly clothing such as a wetsuit is best. In bigger boats, a weather-proof jacket and pants are a good option and allow for layers. Be prepared for all weather conditions and remember it’s always colder out on the water and in the wind.

Dinghy Learn to Sail

Dinghy learn to sail has three levels:

  • Start… Sailing! (level 1)

  • Sailing… Fast! (level 2)

  • Go… Racing! (level 3)

Start… Sailing!

This course teaches the basics of sailing, to get you up and going.

Sailing... Fast!

This course builds on the skills learned in Start… Sailing! to become more skilled sailors, more competent in manoeuvres and greater wind conditions.

These two levels are often delivered together and usually take 20-30 hours to complete.

Go… Racing!

Go… Racing! helps you take your sailing to the next level. The course starts out focusing on the basic concepts of racing and works through improving boat speed, learning about weather, race strategy and getting you ready to race.

Click here for the course outlines

Keelboat Learn to Sail

Keelboat learn to sail has three levels:

  • Introduction to Keelboat Sailing (level 1)

  • Basic Skills - Cruising Crew (level 2)

  • Overnight Skipper (level 3)

Introduction to Keelboat sailing (level 1)

This level provides a safe and enjoyable introduction to keelboat sailing. It includes essential safety skills necessary for sailors to participate in sailing in the most enjoyable way. Sailors will learn the basics of yachting which can lead onto the high-level courses.

Basic Skills - Cruising Crew (level 2)

Sailors will be competent at crewing aboard a keelboat while cruising at the end of this course. This level builds on skills gained in level 1 and covers more detail on overall boat-handling skills and safety at sea while cruising.

Overnight Skipper (level 3)

At the end of this course, sailors will have gained enough skills to be able to sail a boat in inshore waters and complete an overnight stay.