This section of the site captures most of what you need to know about classes at the Alaska Sailing Club. Topics include:


Each summer, the ASC teaches two Introduction to Dinghy Sailing classes and one Intermediate Dinghy Sailing class. Our courses are all fun and low-key and take a very hands-on approach to learning how to sail.

Our Introduction to Dinghy Sailing classes are designed for beginners, and we assume no prior sailing experience. We teach one track for adults and teens 14 and older and another youth class for kids aged 8 to 13. The youth class overlaps with the adult course, allowing whole families to participate in our program. Adults and teens will learn to sail the club Lido 14s, our Catalina 16.5, and the club Buccaneer 18. Youth sailors will learn to rig and sail the ASC’s five Optimists and three Vanguard Lasers. (The Lasers are rigged with a 4.7-meter sail designed for smaller sailors.)

Our Intermediate Dinghy Sailing class is intended for adults and teens 14 and older who have completed our intro class and have one season of sailing experience. Alternatively, sailors with other backgrounds are welcome to join if they meet the list of prerequisites defined below. Our intermediate class focuses on more advanced sailing topics such as boat speed, efficient upwind sailing, and basic racing skills. Class participants will train on club Lidos 14s, Lasers, the Catalina 16.5, and the Buccaneer 18.

If you’re planning to take the Intermediate Dinghy Sailing class, you should:

  • Have taken the ASC’s Introduction to Dinghy Sailing class or equivalent.
  • Have at least one season of dinghy sailing experience.
  • Be able to sail off and on the dock with variable wind strengths and directions.
  • Be able to capsize and recover a Laser, Lido 14, or equivalent.
  • Know how to jibe and tack when sailing.
  • Understand the sail positions and their names.
  • Know the basic traffic rules of the waterway for sailboats.
  • Know about basic dingy rigging.

Our classes consist of three full days, starting on a Friday morning and ending on Sunday. Participants are welcome (and encouraged!) to camp at the ASC during classes, and you can read more about that option in the Camping at the ASC During Class section below.

Swim Test, Capsize Drill, and Life Jackets

Dinghy sailing doesn’t require extreme fitness, but you need to be able to pass an elementary swim test. This test consists of swimming 50 meters and treading water for sixty seconds while wearing a life jacket. Additionally, you must be strong enough to right a capsized dinghy. (The capsize drill isn’t a major athletic feat, but it does require a bit of upper body strength and might be a challenge for some older folks.)

And please note that class participants must wear a life jacket on the docks or a boat. We take our life jacket rules very seriously, and we will ask participants who don’t comply to leave the class.

Schedule & Availability

The 2023 season class schedule is as follows:


Note that our June and July Adult/Teen Intro to Sailing classes are fully booked. And our June Youth Into to Sailing class is also booked. If you’d like to join a class waiting list, just head over to our Contact page and select “Class Waiting List” when filling out the form. Make sure to let us know which class waiting list you’d like to join, and we’ll let you know if any space opens up.

Intro Class Details

Participants in our intro classes will learn all the following:

  • Basic sailing vocabulary, including the names of all the “parts and pieces” of a boat
  • How to sail a dinghy on all points of sail (reaching, running, and upwind sailing)
  • Core sailing maneuvers, including tacking, jibing, and rocking a sailboat forward when there isn’t any wind
  • How to right a capsized boat safely
  • Correct rigging, put-away, and hoist-use procedures for the club boats. Adults and teens will focus on Lido 14s, the Buccaneer 18, and the Catalina 16.5, while youth sailors will learn to rig Lasers and Optimists.
  • Essential sailing knots, including the double figure eight, the double half-hitch, the bowline, and the cleat knot
  • Basic right-of-way rules
  • Introduction to the rules and basic tactics of sailboat racing

Before taking this class, we recommend reading Learning to Sail: The Annapolis Sailing School Guide for All Ages. This reading exercise isn’t a hard requirement, but it’ll give you some theoretical grounding for many of the hands-on activities in the class. You can often pick up a local copy at Title Wave Books or Barnes & Noble, and it’s also available to order from Amazon.

Class Schedule

The following is a rough schedule for our Introduction to Dinghy Sailing Sailing classes. We’ll do our best to adhere to some version of this plan. But since we don’t have control over the weather and the wind, we sometimes have to make some adjustments.

Day One (Friday), 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM

We’ll kick off the day with introductions and then take a brief walking tour of the club. We’ll jump right into rigging from there, and once we’ve rigged all the boats, we’ll launch them and do the dreaded (but fun!) capsize drill. After everybody has finished capsizing, we’ll take a well-deserved break for lunch.

Once we’ve had a break for lunch, we’ll have a brief classroom session to cover basic theory, the mechanics of sailing, and basic sailing maneuvers (tacking and jibing). After our classroom work, we’ll hit the water for our first drill, consisting of reaching (sailing perpendicular to the wind) back and forth between two marks. Finally, we will finish the day with a brief Q&A session and put away the boats.

Day Two (Saturday) 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM

We’ll spend as much time on the water as the wind allows during the second day. We’ll begin the day by getting the boats rigged and launched, and from there, we’ll hit the water and warm up with more work on reaching. Once we have everybody comfortable, we’ll head back for some class time, introducing the techniques and principles involved in sailing upwind and downwind.

When everybody’s brain is full, we’ll take a lunch break, and after that, we’ll hit the water and get some practice with upwind and downwind sailing. Since this is typically the most challenging part of sailing for beginners, we’ll spend the rest of the day getting comfortable with this.

We’ll end the day with a Q&A session and then get the boats put away.

Day Three (Sunday) 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM

We’ll begin our final day of class by rigging boats and jumping right in with some upwind sailing practice. After that, we’ll come in and cover a variety of more advanced topics, including:

  • Right-of-way
  • Safe docking procedures
  • The basics of sailboat racing
  • Sailing a boat in extreme conditions (too much wind, too little wind)

As with the other days, we’ll finish up with a Q&A session and then get the boats put away. We will end class about an hour earlier than the other days, so folks have time to get home and rest up before the workweek!

Youth Class Special Notes

The overall youth class schedule is similar to the agenda for the adult class, with the same start and end times are the same. However, we modify the format to work more effectively with younger learners. Some alterations include:

  • Comparatively, more hands-on time and less classroom theory time
  • Lots of on-water games
  • More frequent and shorter practice sessions
  • Time for unstructured play

And note that we do require parents to be on-premises during our youth classes. So, they can either take the adult class or relax and enjoy time on the ASC grounds.

Intermediate Class Details

Participants in our intermediate classes will learn all the following:

  • Expanded small-boat sailing vocabulary
  • How to sail a dinghy efficiently on all points of sail, with particular emphasis on effective upwind sailing
  • How to “read the wind” and play wind shifts
  • Core sailing knots, including the double figure eight, the double half-hitch, the bowline, and the cleat knot
  • Advanced right-of-way rules
  • Introduction to the rules and basic tactics of sailboat racing

Our primary goal with this class is to help participants learn to sail more efficiently, confidently, and joyfully. We also want to give sailors the necessary skills to participate in ASC regattas, where they can continue to hone their sailing skills. And it’s useful to note that 2023 is our first year of teaching this course, so we may still alter our class agenda a bit between now and class time.

Class Schedule

The following is a rough schedule for our Intermediate Dinghy Sailing sailing classes. We’ll do our best to adhere to some version of this plan, but as with our other classes, we may need to make changes based on the weather and wind.

Day One (Friday), 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM

The first day of class with a focus on refreshing core skills while adding a few more advanced topics. Review topics will include:

  • Rigging, put-away, and hoist use for Lasers, Lido 14s, the Catalina 16.5, and the Buccaneer 18
  • Core sailing knots
  • Basic sailing maneuvers, including capsize recovery, tacking, and jibing
  • Safe docking procedures

As we work through the rigging, we’ll start introducing some more advanced vocabulary and discuss some “secondary” control lines and how they impact boat speed and handling.

And as always, we will finish the day with a brief Q&A session and put away the boats.

Day Two (Saturday) 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM

For the second day, we’ll focus on the following key topics:

  • Trimming sails for maximum boat speed
  • Efficient tacking and jibing
  • Crew weight positioning
  • Reading and responding to wind shifts

We’ll spend some time on shore discussing these concepts in theory, but as with our basic class, our bias will be to spend as much time on the water as we can. Class participants will all have the opportunity to work with instructors who will be embedded on class boats.

We’ll provide a BBQ lunch on Saturday, with burgers, hotdogs, and sides. (We always have a vegetarian option as well.) And on Saturday evening, we’ll host a “Landlubber Potluck” with class participants, instructors, and other ASC members. If you’d like to participate, just bring a main dish, side, salad, or dessert to share. We’ll start the potluck around 7:00 PM to allow time to clean up after class and prep food.

Day Three (Sunday) 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM

For our final day of class, we’ll work on practicing our newly developed boat-handling skills in the context of racing. We’ll work on practice starts, mark-rounding drills, and run fun practice races.

As with the other days, we’ll finish up with a Q&A session and then get the boats put away. We will end class about an hour earlier than the other days, so folks have time to get home and rest up before the workweek!

We recommend the following gear for all of our classes:

  • A comfortable life jacket. If you don’t have one, the ASC will provide one for you, but if you’re going to make a summer out of sailing, you’ll want a good, comfortable PFD (personal flotation device).
  • Sunscreen. A bad burn will ruin your weekend, so bring some sunscreen!
  • Warm clothes and good rain gear. Big Lake can be cold and wet, just like the rest of Alaska.
  • A tent or RV. While not required, the class is even more fun when you spend the night between sessions!
  • Food & snacks. The club will provide lunch on Saturday, and you’re on your own for the rest. And we definitely encourage you to participate in the class potluck on Saturday evening!
  • Bug dope. Yup … we are called the Alaska Sailing Club, which means you’ll find the Alaska state bird on the premises.
  • A bathing suit. This is a must for all the ASC classes since capsizing is part of small-boat sailing. (It’s also fun, we promise!) Plus, the swimming on Big Lake is lovely.
  • A wetsuit. This isn’t a requirement, but it’s a good idea—especially if you’re not a strong swimmer. Big Lake is cold, especially early in the season, and a wetsuit is an excellent piece of safety gear.
  • A spare set of dry clothes. We always recommend that you sail in a bathing suit, but sometimes folks are out on the water in regular clothes. So, spare dry clothes are a good idea, just in case you fall in without your bathing suit.
  • Plenty of towels. You’ll want dry towels for drying off after capsizing, swimming, or sailing in the rain or spray!
  • A waterproof watch with a timer. We’ll be practicing race start drills on Sunday, and a watch with a timer makes this much easier. You’re welcome to bring a dedicated sailing watch, but any watch with a timer will do. You don’t need anything fancy.

How to Enroll

Classes are only available to ASC members, and you can read about joining the ASC on the Membership section of our site.

First-year single and junior memberships include one free pass to an ASC class, and first-year family memberships include two passes. Members can purchase additional classes at the cost of $100.00 per class, and any classes in subsequent years of membership cost $100.00.

To enroll in a class at the ASC, you need to do two things:

  1. If you haven’t yet joined the ASC, go to our Membership page and complete an appropriate membership form.
  2. Fill out the Class Enrollment Form.

Camping at the ASC During Class

We welcome class members to camp during the class, and we have plenty of space for both tents and RVs. Staying the night saves you both time and gas, plus you get the opportunity to spend more time with your classmates and instructors. And if we have decent wind, we’ll also take some time during the evenings to informally explore the lake and take a few “round the island” tours.

Arrival Time

You’re welcome to arrive any time before the class, and many students opt to come out on Thursday to get settled before the class starts on Friday. If you opt to come out on Thursday, you’ll find ASC volunteers hard at work prepping and rigging boats for the clawe’ll You’re welcome to join in; we always appreciate the help, and it’s a great way to get ” head-start on t”e formal rigging work that we’ll do in class.

If you arrive on Friday, we recommend getting to the club at least 45 minutes before the class starts so you have time to get your tent or RV set up.

RV Notes

We have plenty of space for tents but cannot guarantee space for RVs. We have spots for 3-4 rigs, depending on the sizes people bring. We’re sometimes filled by Friday morning, but you should be safe if you arrive on Thursday. And we have electric power available, but not full hookups.


We have a grill, a microwave, a coffee maker, outhouses, electricity, a clubhouse, and a sauna. We don’t have a fridge, showers, or running water. Also, note that there is a Three Bears grocery store about ten minutes away from the club if you need supplies. Lakeside Laundromat is across the street from Three Bears and has both hot showers and a sink where you can fill water coolers.


If you have any questions or concerns regarding our classes, please fill out our Contact form to email our instructors.