A: The major benefit of being involved in a community boating organization is that you can enjoy the great sport of sailing without the cost or expense of owning a boat. Professional instruction is also available for those wishing to learn the sport of sailing. Boat usage is available for very reasonable rates. In other words, you can try sailing, get professional instruction and enjoy the use of sailboats without having to buy and maintain a boat!
Q: Approximately how many sailing groups such as this exist in the US?
A: There are hundreds of organizations including yacht clubs and community sailing programs in the United States. Each has its own specialties and target groups … some specialize in youth programs or adults, or perhaps racing or cruising, some focus on rentals. And some organizations offer all of the above.
Q: What is the difference between a yacht club or a local sailing association?
A: Community Sailing organizations and Yacht Clubs vary greatly across the country, so no one premise fits all. But, typically a yacht club is an organization of boat owners, both sail and power, that caters to the needs of the boaters through lessons and racing as well as social programs. Community sailing groups, on the other hand, try to introduce ALL people to the sport of sailing through outreach programs and lessons. Community sailing is a great feeder system for yacht clubs as they introduce many new people to sailing.
Q: Is there a group that is better for beginning and/or seasoned sailors?
A: Most community sailing organizations use either a US Sailing or ASA (American Sailing Association) certification system or the principals of them as the basis for their instruction. Ask about certification when you inquire.
Q: What are the costs associated with joining a club?
A: Again, costs really vary greatly across the country, as do the benefits of belonging to the organization. At the Milwaukee Community Sailing Center, for example, an adult can join for $250 and have access to use our fleet of 60 boats at no cost, while children aged 12-17 can join for only $75. Different organizations have different fees and some require volunteer work with the group as a requirement to joining.
Q: Are there special interest organizations, like groups especially for racing or cruising?
A: Yes, as I noted earlier, there are sailing clubs and organizations throughout the US that cater to special interests, from racing, cruising, junior sailing, windsurfing and many more.
Q: How do you decide which club is best suited to your needs?
A: This might sound strange, but in my opinion, you first need to really determine and figure out what you want from sailing. I have met many people who come into sailing believing that they want to sail to the Caribbean, only to find they get caught up in racing and the thrill that it brings. You should try all aspects of sailing and then decide what you enjoy the most, because there is something for everyone. Then you can best search out a group that caters to your wants/needs.
Q: What types of activities might you expect through club membership?
A: There are a variety of activities offered in the realm of sailing and some fun social activities as well. We have an extensive program of daysailing and racing, but offer things like full moon sails and cruises. Social activities include a sailor’s ball, lobster boil, fireworks celebration and holiday party. We have also sponsored special lectures from local and national sailors. If it is related to sailing we will try and offer it! Every club or association is different, so ask and compare to find what best suits your lifestyle and social expectations.
Q: I’m ready to take the next step. How can I find a local club?
A: US Sailing has an extensive website that lists sailing organizations and contacts, plus how to get involved and start sailing. Check it out at www.ussailing.org.