The Alaska Sailing Club is an education-focused 501(c)(3). Each summer, we teach courses for both beginner and intermediate sailors. In addition, we offer a variety of free skills clinics. Our volunteer instructors are passionate sailors with decades of combined experience teaching sailing; several are nationally competitive racers.

The following information pertains to all of the classes that we teach at the ASC.

Membership & Cost

You must sign up for an Alaska Sailing Club membership to take any of our classes or clinics. Single memberships cost $250 per year, and family memberships cost $500. Each ASC class costs $100.

First-time single memberships receive a one-time coupon for a free class, and first-time family memberships receive two class coupons. Membership includes the use of the club fleet, and taking a class will qualify you on the club boats.


Introduction to Dinghy Sailing

The ASC’s four-day Introduction to Dinghy Sailing class is designed for beginners and assumes no prior sailing experience. We teach one track for adults and teens 13 and older and another youth class for kids aged 8 to 12. The youth class overlaps with the adult course, allowing whole families to participate together.

Intermediate Dinghy Sailing

The ASC’s Intermediate Dinghy Sailing class is intended for adults and teens 13 and older who have completed our Introduction to Dingy Sailing class and have at least one season of prior sailing experience. This class focuses on more advanced sailing topics such as boat speed, efficient upwind sailing, and basic racing skills.

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.)

Participants in ASC classes 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.

Recommended Gear

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, 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 encourage you to participate in the class potluck on Saturday evening!
  • Bug dope. We are called the Alaska Sailing Club, which means you’ll find the Alaska state bird on the premises.
  • A bathing suit. This is necessary for all the ASC classes since capsizing is part of small-boat sailing. (It’s also fun, we promise!) Plus, swimming in 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 safety gear.
  • A spare set of dry clothes. We always recommend that you sail in a bathing suit, but sometimes folks wear regular clothes on the water. So, spare dry clothes are a good idea in case you fall in without your bathing suit.
  • Plenty of towels. You’ll want dry towels 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.

Camping at the ASC

We welcome class members to camp during the class. Staying the night saves you time and gas, and you can spend more time with your classmates and instructors. 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 the day before to get settled. If you do this, you may find ASC volunteers prepping and rigging boats for the class. You’re welcome to join in; we always appreciate the help, and it’s a great way to get a head-start on the formal rigging work we’ll do in class.

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

Tenting and RV parking information

Our tenting area is located at the end of “trailer row” and we always have plenty of space for tents. We have spots for 3-4 RVs, which is usually enough. If RV parking is full, you can camp at the Big Lake South State Recreation Site, a short drive from the club. Note that we have electric power available, but not full hookups. Please review our transient RV parking guidelines for more information about bringing an RV to the club.


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, 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 hot showers and a sink where you can fill water coolers.

Cancelation and Refund Policy

You can cancel a class up to two weeks before its first day for a refund of your ASC membership and course fees, minus any PayPal service fees. To notify us of your need to cancel, please use the website contact form and select “Class or clinic question” in response to the “How can we help you?” question. Then, indicate in the message box that you’re canceling your class.

If you cancel a class within the two-week window, you can opt to apply your class payment or voucher to a course the following year.

If you need to cancel, please give us as much notice as possible. Courses at the ASC typically have a long waiting list, and we want to provide potential attendees with as much notice about openings as possible.


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