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cmartens2 10-17-2009 06:02 PM

ASA or US Sailing Certification

I am a thirteen year old boy and sailing has always been a dream. I finally think i have my parents in a position where they will let me take some sailing classes. I was looking at learning how to sail a small boat and was wondering if i should go with the ASA 101 or the US Sailing small boat certification. I was also wondering if you had any recommendations on where to go for instruction in the San Diego Bay and Coronado area.


xsboats 10-17-2009 06:42 PM

cmartens2, welcome to Sailnet. As an ASA instructor, I will obviously endorse their program. That being said, both will put you in the right direction for a life of a most enjoyable pastime/lifestyle. It is good to see you take the initiative to pursue what alot of us had to wait later in life to learn. I didn't get started until I was 18 and on my own. Both ASA and US Sailing have their own focal points on sailing. ASA seems more cruising oriented and while US Sailing is more into performance/racing. Given the opportunity, I would enroll in courses offered by both. Check with the local sailing clubs to see what is offered. Since you are approaching the age where you will have access to H.S. and then college one -design racing , it seems that US Sailing may have a little more to offer you. It all depends on what you are looking to get out of it. Alot of good sailors came up through the ranks of dinghy racers. Whatever you choose, good luck to you, and don't take us oldsters too seriously. We just try to steer you newbies away from all the mistakes that we made.[and still make!]

legarots 10-17-2009 06:51 PM

I took ASA courses a couple years ago. They made me feel well prepared and confident. I began sailing with people that had years of experience more than me, but I witnessed some making mistakes that seemed basic after the ASA courses.

sailingfool 10-18-2009 12:15 PM

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I think the sertification programs are both comparable, the big difference is the expertise and style of the instructor, which varies widely by person, ASA or US Sailing or not. You should try to get some student references of the specific instructor, regardless of the reputation of the school, and also, sign up for a class without a crowd...ask when you might be the only student, or maybe one more. You'll get far more out of a class you are the only student, rather than one of four.

cb32863 10-18-2009 05:23 PM

I did ASA and found it worthwile and will continue. As others have said. US Sailing is geared tword racing which you may enjoy. Now if I only coul dchange my vote on the poll.... clicked the wrong one.

cmartens2 10-18-2009 06:26 PM

I think I am going to take the US Sailing course as US Sailing has a youth program. Also I noticed they seem to have an emphasis on racing which is something I think i might be interested in as I gain experience. I found this organization on US Sailing's website and I was thinking of going to them for my lessons I have included a link below. If you would be so kind to review the page and let me know what your feelings are. I was thinking of taking the small boat sailing package.

lesson link

tap 10-19-2009 03:42 AM

Have you considered how you are going to go sailing after taking classes? Doesn't sound like your parents sail or own a boat, or you'd probably have experience sailing with them. Look for a club or organization that has boats you can sail. They'll almost certainly offer lessons as well. If you were on the other side of the country, an organization like this one would be a great choice.

At your age you'd be better off looking for dinghy or small boat classes rather then keel boat certification. If for no other reason that you aren't going to find a place that will let a 13 year old take out keel boats. You'll probably enjoy dinghy sailing more too.

MSN2Travelers 10-19-2009 02:43 PM

Actual certification program doesn't really matter ...
Hey Chris,

You might consider looking for a community sailing center, local yacht club or university sailing club near you. They are a great way to get into sailing at little or no cost to you.

I'm with tap in that you might start with an end in mind. Once you learn to sail, when and where will you get the opportunity to sail. Certification opens doors when you go to charter a boat in the future but it doesn't get you on the water so you can gain experience. You need access to a boat for that.

I started with the local university sailing club. They provided me sailing lessons and I had unlimited access to their fleet of boats. Then I went to a local yacht club that has weekly "social" sailing races. Skippers are always looking for crew. Our YC holds a "crew search" event every spring to match up skippers and people that want to sail. They also have a free juniors program targeted at young sailors such as yourself.

Eventually we bought our own boat and obtained our ASA certifications because we wanted to bareboat charter.

Brettms 10-20-2009 02:32 PM

I started sailing a year ago at 59, after 40 years of flying airplanes. I started by buying a 21' Balboa with a retractable keel and fairly quickly took the ASA 101 class at Coronado with Seaforth. They seem to do a good job. You need to know the first 137 pages of Gary Jobson's "Fundamentals of Sailing" pretty much inside out before you get there. It is a very well written book.

For you, I think the earlier advice to join a club is very sound. From my observations on Mission Bay, the Mission Bay Yacht Club Juniors program seems to be very active. You might consider checking their website ( and talking to their Juniors Director for suggestions.

Great sailing!


futureshock999 06-10-2010 09:13 PM

You are very, very lucky on two counts:
1) You have picked up sailing at a young enough age to actually develop your skills from a young age - which is a huge predictor of success if you want to start racing
2) You live in Southern California, which is perhaps THE best place to be a racing sailor in the US, due to the very long season and favourable winds. That's not my opinion - that's Dennis Connor's, and he only won the America's Cup a few times, and every other conceivable race in his

Simply put, the skills you use to race are a "superset" of the skills you learn to cruise - you will learn more racing than in a cruising class. And racing - even if you turn out not to be the best - will teach you more about boat control in a shorter amount of time than any classes. Most importantly, it will teach you how to "feel" the boat - how it moves, how it responds, and how the wind can be felt and used.

The fact of the matter is that most successful large yacht skippers started racing in small dinghies. My advice is to follow their lead. Go borrow books by Dennis Connor from the library, learn how HE started way back when, how much he did by himself, how he learned to cut his own sails because he couldn't afford to buy any, how he did jobs for adult racers to get materials and their help, etc. Even if you can't turn out like Dennis, his books can help you dream big.

I didn't start sailing until college, and I took up racing in Lasers. I did that for several years, and although I wasn't very good (compared to those that started younger), I learned a lot about boat handling. I moved over to cruising on larger boats after I left school, and now all I do is cruise. But the lessons that I learned in my dinghy sailing now let me single-hand a 32' cruiser fairly easily...

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