PYSF Learn To sail


All sailors must wear a life-jacket and must be able to swim comfortably with clothes and a life-jacket on. A safety motorboat is present for all classes.

What to bring/wear?

  • US Coast Guard approved life jacket. We have some for when you forget one, but all sailors will need to purchase their own. It should hit at, or above the waist so it doesn’t ride up. And should be adjustable on the sides. Kayaking versions are the best fit for sailors.
  • Wear a wetsuit or spray gear, as well as bring a beanie or warm hat as the cooler months approach
  • Footwear should be aqua shoes, rubber soled shoes, or sailing boots. Old tennis shoes work as well.
  • A towel, hat, sunglasses, and change of clothes are helpful.
  • Sunscreen
  • Water bottle and lunch

What will be taught in the Learn to Sail classes?

  • Capsizing and righting a boat. Basic safety and sailing skills
  • Boat handling, team work
  • Proper upwind sailing and tacking
  • Sailing downwind, gybing
  • Basic right-of-way rules
  • Boat speed, boat handling and knot tying.

What kind of boats are the kids sailing?

Beginning sailors learn to sail in Cubes. A Cube is a small pram with a gaff type rig. It is a plastic version of the Optimist, the world’s most popular boat with over 100,000 of them sold. One can go almost anywhere there is water and find a fleet of Optis. An Opti is smaller than an El Toro and easier for young children to handle and right, should it flip over.

What is an Optimist?

  • Often referred to as an “Opti”
  • Single design, one person sailboat designed for beginner sailors under 16
  • Small pram with a gaff type rig; smaller than an El Toro and easier for young children to handle and right, should it flip over
  • More than 150,000 kids in more than 110 countries worldwide sail Optis.
  • Largest and fastest growing dinghy class in the world
  • World’s most popular boat with over 100,000 sold
  • Best way for kids to learn to sail – over 85% of the sailing medal winners in the last Olympics were former Optimist sailors
  • Large and vibrant Bay Area Opti fleet with sailing opportunities not only on the Peninsula but around San Francisco Bay, California and the US

How many sailors per boat?

The Optimist is a single-handed boat. Each sailor will skipper his/her own boat.

How many sailors in the learn to sail class?

Each class will have 12-15 kids.

Will you have safety boats?

Yes, there will be safety motorboats. Safety and personal instruction are important.


  • Bring sunscreen, sunglasses, hat, long sleeved shirt/rash guard, etc. The days are long, and the sun is intense.
  • All sailors must wear water shoes, boots, etc. No flip-flops, bare feet, exposed toes.
  • We have lifejackets for those that do not own their own. But having your own is advised (for comfort, fit, etc)
  • Helmets are becoming more and more commonplace in our sport. We do not supply helmets, but welcome those that would like to wear them.

Some options:

Salamander Paddle gear
ProWhip 2.0

  • Kids will be both on land, and on the water. They should bring a change of clothes so they are comfortable when doing land drills.
  • Day 1 all campers will be doing a swim test where the instructors will make sure the kids are comfortable in the water, and in their lifejackets. They will not need to swim a distance without their lifejackets on.
  • There will be a lunch break in the middle of the day, and some kids like to have a snack while on land. Please have them arrive with their food, as there will not be a chance to go off-site to purchase
  • Having a windbreaker, spray top, etc is advisable for the afternoons when it is windier and the kids will be getting sprayed. Some kids like to wear wetsuits as well. I suggest short legs and arms, to aide in mobility.
  • Drop-off CANNOT be before 8:50am, as the instructors are elsewhere retrieving motorboats and preparing for the day