Youth Sailing Programs

Anyone can Learn to sail at Sail Newport!

Sail Newport offers Rhode Island’s most sought-after summer sailing program! Sailing is truly a unique sport–skills learned now can be used and enjoyed for a lifetime. Sailing challenges both the mind and the body allowing individuals with different strengths and skills to find their niche. That niche might be competitive or recreational and students can learn to sail big boats, little boats, single-handed, with a friend, or as part of a team.

The primary goal of the Sail Newport youth program

To develop solid sailing skills, and to provide inspiration to young sailors, from the beginner to the advanced or racing sailor, with an emphasis on fun and safety.

Download the youth program handbook.

Each type of boat handles differently and certain boats lend themselves to sailors of different sizes, and/or experience levels. Students get the most out of a program when they are in a class that is commensurate with their age, size, ability and interest. Sail Newport uses:

Dinghies (single, double and triple-handed boats – each boat lends itself to sailors of different sizes and abilities from beginners to performance/advanced sailors from 7 – 17 years of age):

  • Optimists
  • Hartlie 10s
  • RS Quests
  • Scholastic rig 420s
  • Club 420s

Keelboats (22′ boats good for 2 – 4 sailors of all abilities from beginners to performance/advanced sailors from 12 – 17 years of age):

  • J/22s

Read more about the boats we sail

Please check the Youth Dinghy Skills and Classes page for further information about skill levels and class details. We will help place your child in the right class. Just be sure to complete the section on the registration form that asks about your child’s DOB, size (height/weight), experience, and any specific skills or interests within sailing.

  • Safety is first and foremost in the minds of the instructors.
  • All children who participate must pass a swim check which will be held at the start of each session. The check involves a swim of 20 yards and treading water for 2 minutes.
  • Life jackets will be worn at all times when students are on the docks or in boats.
  • Sail Newport has a supply of life jackets to loan out to first time sailors.
  • We hold hard and fast to the age requirements for all youth programs because it is simply unfair for us to make an exception for one family, but not another.
  • Most sailing programs simply set a minimum age of 8 or 9 – we have chosen to widen the pool slightly as 1) we offer a program for 5 and 6 year olds that helps prepare them, and 2) we have the capacity.  We choose the end of year date so that students within a particular program are actually 1/2 year older when summer comes round and this does make an overall difference in terms of maturity (ie a student who is 7 by December of the preceding year, is at least 7 1/2 years old when they attend the summer program)  which makes a difference in their ability to maximize getting the most out of the experience.
  • With the level of demand we have for participation, we put a priority on getting every child an opportunity, and that gets compromised if we start making exceptions based on age.
  • We hold to this and other policies specifically so no one can accuse us of having multiple standards which we believe is in keeping with the general spirit of community sailing, and the fair and equitable treatment of everyone who looks to participate, regardless of who you are or how you have been involved with Sail Newport.

Dinghy Sessions are two-week classes that meet Monday-Friday from 9-3 p.m. using Sail Newport’s fleet of Opti’s, Hartlies, Quests and 420s.  Students are assigned to classes within each session based on their age, experience and interests. Instructor to sailor ratio varies depending on class, but averages 1:8

Minimum Age

The minimum age for participation is 7 years (must have turned 7 on or by Dec 31, 2020 / have a birth year of 2013 or earlier)


Youth Keelboat classes are one-week classes that meet Monday-Friday from 9-3 p.m.  Participants range from beginners to advanced sailors. The instructor: to sailor ratio is 1:4.

Minimum age

The minimum age for participation is 12 years (must have turned 12 on or by Dec 31, 2020/have a birth year of 2008 or earlier)

Class Length

One week, meets 2.5 hours per day in either morning, mid-day or afternoon sessions

Minimum Age

Students born in 2014 or 2015 are eligible.

Class overview

Designed as an introductory, hands-on class, the focus is on making kids comfortable in and around boats. Lots of games will be intermingled with an introduction to sailing with the goal of having fun! Must be able to pass a swim ‘check’ to participate. The ratio is 1:5 instructor to Guppy.

Class Length

Eight-week program for Optimist, Laser and Club 420 racers.

Please visit the BCRP section for details on class days/times and other program specifics.

Have questions?

Contact Kim Hapgood, Program Director

Phone: (401) 846-1983