Youth instruction

Youth Summer Recreational Programs

Skill Levels, Classes and Boats We Sail

Sailing is both a very physical and a highly conceptual sport. Students learn at different rates and in different ways. Some students grasp the practical side quickly, while the theory eludes them. For others it is just the opposite. Students also retain information very differently. Sail Newport’s goal is to make sure students are placed in a class (boat and skill level) that will help them succeed to the best of their ability, and have fun while they are learning! Factors that we take into consideration in making placements include:

  • Age
  • Height
  • Weight
  • Prior experience
  • Personal interest
  • Goals (cruising, racing)

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 advanced sailors from 7-17 years of age):

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

Keelboats (22′ boats good for two to four sailors of all abilities from beginners to advanced sailors from 12-17 years of age):

  • J/22s

See videos of our boats

• 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, and lifejackets are worn during the swim check.
• 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.

Designed as an introductory, hands-on program, 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’, while wearing a lifejacket, to participate.

The ratio is 1:5 instructor to Guppies. Applicants must have a DOB of 2015 or 2016 to participate in the 2022 program.

Beginner Classes
Beginner Classes are for students who may have little or no experience on the water, in sailboats, or, they do not have a history of organized instructional experience. These classes cover the fundamentals: how to rig, de-rig and care for the boats and equipment, capsize recovery, understanding the wind, how to tack and jibe. Students are introduced to the different points of sail, and basic “rules of the road.” Beginner dinghy classes are taught using Prams (ages 7–11), and RS Quests (ages 11–16) and in the keelboat program, J/22s (ages 12 – 17).

Beginner- Intermediate Classes
For students who have completed just one session as a beginner, most will move to a Beginner/Intermediate class where they can continue to solidify their skills. This is particularly true of students who are only sailing for a few weeks each season. Beginner/Intermediate dinghy classes are taught using Optimists, Hartlie 10s (generally ages 7–12), and RS Quests (generally ages 11–17) and in keelboats  J/22s (ages 12 – 17).

Intermediate Classes
Pre-requisite: Sail Newport Beginner Class and recommendation of the instructor, or its equivalent.
Builds on the basics with students learning the finer points of boat handling and sail theory. There is an emphasis on developing confidence for sailing alone and learning to sail as part of a crew. Other topics can include currents, weather, a little navigation and more. Dinghy classes are taught in Optimists, Hartlie 10s (ages 7–14), Quests and 420s (ages 13–17) and in the keelboat program J/22s (ages 12 – 17).

Advanced Classes
Pre-requisite: Sail Newport Intermediate Class and recommendation of the instructor, or its equivalent.


Club 420s (typically for ages 14–17 with two sessions of intermediate 420 classes)
Covers advanced boat-handling, spinnaker and trapeze use, tuning and sail trim. Popular with students who are interested in learning advanced/performance boat handling skills, possibly with a future interest in racing.

Optis (after completing intermediate level, typically ages 10 – 14)
Covers advanced boat handling. Everything from fine-tuning sail trim and shape to roll tacking and gybing. Popular with students who are interested in learning advanced boat handling skills, possibly with a future interest in racing.

• J/22s are used for advanced boat handling as well as beginner and intermediate. Skills including fine tuning sail trim and shape, using spinnakers and advanced seamanship.

2022 Schedule & Fees

The 2022 schedule for youth dinghy, keelboat and Little Guppies programs is subject to change depending on what happens with the COVID pandemic and local, state and national rules and procedures. Please check back periodically to look for changes and updates.


22 Dinghy Parents Handbook

For ages 7-17 (must be 7 as of Jan 1, 2022 / been born in 2014 or earlier). Beginner through advanced classes offered.

Two-week sessions, running 9 am – 3 pm daily.

Instructor : Sailor ratio varies by class but ranges from 1 : 6 to 1 : 9

$647 1st child / $615 sibling

Dinghy Session 1

  • Dates: June 20 – July 1
  • Time: 9 a.m. – 3 p.m.

Dinghy Session 2

  • Dates: July 5* – 15
  • Time: 9 a.m. – 3:30* p.m.

*Please note that due to the July 4th Holiday on Monday, Dinghy Session 2 will start Tuesday, July 5th and run a half hour longer each day.

Dinghy Session 3

  • Dates: July 18 – 29
  • Time: 9 a.m. – 3 p.m.

Dinghy Session 4

  • Dates: August 1 – 12
  • Time: 9 a.m. – 3 p.m.

22 Little Guppies Parents Handbook

DOB 2015 or 2016. Novice level only.

Instructor : Sailor ratio 1 : 5

$184 (there is no sibling discount for Little Guppies)

Session 1: June 13 – 17 (one-week session)
Session 2: August 15 – 19 (one-week session)


  • Morning Group: 9:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.
  • Mid-day Group: 12:00 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.
  • Afternoon Group: 3:00 p.m. – 5:30 p.m

22 Keelboat Parents Handbook

For ages 12-17 (must be 12 as of Jan 1, 2022 / born in 2009 or earlier). Beginner through advanced offered.

Time: 9 a.m. – 3 p.m., Monday – Friday (one-week sessions)

Instructor : Sailor ratio 1 : 4

$548 1st child / $521 sibling


  • Session 1: June 13 – 17
  • Session 2: June 20 – 24
  • Session 3: June 27 – July 1
  • Session 4: August 1 – 5
  • Session 5: August 8 – 12
  • Session 6: August 15 – 19

The Sail Newport summer youth program includes race training in some of the two-week dinghy summer recreational sessions. However, for students with a goal to pursue racing, there are several options for high-performance training in our youth racing programs.

For more information please visit our youth racing page.

Applying: The 2022 Application is Live at this link

All applications are handled online on this site. If you are unable to apply online, we will be more than happy to help you fill out your application over the phone.

No payment is due with your application and submission of the application is not a guarantee that space is available in the class/session appropriate for your child (ren). Payment and final registration will be due once a student is placed in a class in February.

Please double and triple check for accuracy in your contact information (especially your email address), as this can be the cause for confusion with the auto-responder email that serves as your confirmation of application. If you do not receive this email (it will come from Kim Hapgood (, then something has gone wrong with your application, and we might not have it. Check your spam/bulk boxes and if you don’t have it, send me an email and I can check on it for you.

The best way to increase your child’s chances of getting a spot in the program is to be flexible. If you are able to attend different sessions, add them to your list of preferences. Be sure to check your schedule and ours so you don’t add sessions that your child can’t attend. There is a chance that they will be selected for one of their alternates.

As always, if you have any questions about the programs, dates, age restrictions, anything at all, really, don’t hesitate to give a call and I will be happy to help you out. We’re looking forward to another great summer of sailing!

Confidential financial aid is available by application for those who qualify. Financial aid forms are made available once a student is accepted into a session. Any questions or concerns regarding financial aid for the youth sailing programs can be directed to Brad Read, Executive Director.

Once a student is accepted, confirmed and paid for a summer session, cancellations will be accepted and refunds given following these guidelines:

  • Students who are unable to participate at the time of payment deadline (typically in March) have no obligation.
  • Cancellations before April 15, 2022* will be refunded less a $25 administrative fee.
  • Cancellations April 16, 2022* and later will be refunded less a $45 administrative fee if the student’s spot is filled. If the student’s spot is not filled we cannot issue a refund.
  • *Covid 19 considerations summer 2022. A full refund will be issued in the instance a sailor is unable to participate as a result of considerations from Covid 19 (i.e. a positive test within the household, travel restrictions). This policy will be updated to reflect changes in Covid 19 guidelines by state and federal authorities as necessary.

Volunteer Sailing Assistant Program

Each summer, a great team of volunteers between the ages of 13 and 18 work as sailing assistants (SAs) to help the instructors with the day-to-day activities of the SN Youth Program. SAs must have solid fundamental sailing skills, but no previous teaching or work experience is necessary, outside of a willingness to learn new skills, be a team player, and have enthusiasm for sharing the joys of sailing with other kids.

We strongly recommend that SAs continue with their own program of instruction–this opportunity is not meant to replace participation in sailing classes of their own, whether here at Sail Newport or in another program.

The schedule is flexible–some volunteers help out specific hours or days for multiple sessions, others help for part or the entirety of a whole session (two weeks, M-F, 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.). SAs are required to commit to a minimum of 15 hours of volunteering. The registration below will ask for your expected availability.

In return for helping out and contributing to the success of the program, SAs get a special edition Youth Program tee shirt, the opportunity to learn new skills and gain new experiences. SAs will also be able to participate in a US Powerboat Safe Powerboat Handling course at Sail Newport. We will provide a letter for each SA documenting volunteer hours that can be used towards school, church or other youth group requirements.

Have questions?

Contact Kim Hapgood, Program Director

Phone: (401) 846-1983