Lessons For Beginners
If you're completely new to sailing or windsurfing, you're in good company. Most CSC members have no sailing and windsurfing experience when they first join, and the club members who volunteer to teach can still remember being complete newbies.
Our lessons emphasize safety (Personal Flotation Devices must be worn), self reliance (rating tests include self rescue and anchoring/capsize recovery), and minimizing environmental impact (least possible use of motors, bottom paint, non-recyclables).
Beginning Sailing Lessons are given to Club members on Monday and Thursday afternoons, and on Saturday mornings. To take a sailing lesson come to the clubhouse between 1:00 PM and 4:00 PM on Monday and Thursday (between 1:00 PM and 6:00 PM when Daylight Savings Time is in effect), or between 10:00 AM and 1:00 PM on Saturday. Lessons are taught on a first-come, first-served basis by qualified fellow CSC members. Here are somefrequently asked questions to get you started!A CSC beginning sailing lesson typically provides an hour and a half on the water with one instructor and up to four students in a 15' dinghy sailboat. Students rig the boats (put them in the water and raise the sails). On the water, each student gets about twenty minutes at the helm (driving the boat) to practice steering, adjusting the mainsail, coming about and jibing, man overboard drill (picking up a float from the water), hiking out (using your weight to balance the sails' force), docking, and other maneuvers. When not at the helm, the other students practice keeping watch and applying right of way rules, adjusting the jib (front sail), hiking out, and identifying wind direction and point of sail (angle of boat relative to wind). Students who pass the written, rigging, and sailing test (and contribute 2 hrs extra work) get the Junior Skipper rating that allows them to practice and take out friends and family in club boats. If you reallly want to get the most out of your lessons read this dinghy sailing guide prior to and after each lesson! In addition you can watch the first of our three part instructional videos (two and three should be released this winter).
In addition to these lessons another way to learn sailing is by participating in our friendly dinghy races. Please see the Racing page for more information.
Beginning Windsurfing Lessons are given on Saturday mornings from 10:30 am to 1:30 pm and Sunday mornings from 11:00 am to 2:00 pm except in no wind and cold weather. To take a windsurfing lesson, arrive at the club before 10:30 am on Saturday or 11:00 am on Sunday and sign-up in the clubhouse. Because there is a limited amount of equipment, the class is limited to the first 20 people who sign up, so get to the club early!Beginning windsurfing lessons begin with an orientation given on the astroturf-covered rigging area behind the clubhouse promptly at 10:30 am on Saturday and 11:00 am on Sunday--don’t be late:^). Using a simulator (turntable with a windsurfing board and sail strapped to it), the instructors will demonstrate how to get up onto the board, raise the sail out of the water, get in the best stance (foot placement, body posture) for sailing, steer the board to turn upwind and downwind, and tack and jibe. The students then get a chance to try these drills before going out on the water.
After the orientation, club members can put on wetsuits and PFD's and go out on the water for an hour of practice on club boards and sails. The boards are wide and stable, and the sails are small and light. Instructors go out with the students on motorboats, kayaks, and/or other windsurf boards to offer advice and tips.
After the orientation and on-water practice, the students can take the open-book written test and the self-rescue (paddling) test to get their Novice rating. This allows them to go back out on the water in a sheltered area to practice more. Once they've mastered sailing in wind and waves on big boards in the sheltered Novice area, they can get the Junior Windsurfer rating that allows them to go out even further for bigger wind and waves on smaller boards.
The Sunday 11:00 am lessons may cover advanced beginner and intermediate topics in addition to beginner topics. The Sunday lessons are just starting, and will be more tailored to the audience than the Saturday lesson. Depending on class size and previous experience, the Sunday class may be split into beginner and intermediate groups to focus on particular topics. Here are some of the topics covered:Beginner topics (covered Saturday and Sunday)
- Land and water safety and CSC orientation
- Getting on and off the water
- Points of sail
- Uphauling, stance, and balance
- Powering-up, steering, tacking, and jibingAdvanced beginner / intermediate topics (covered Sunday depending on audience skill level/experience)
- More efficient sailing, staying upwind
- Sailing using smaller boards and bigger sails
- Dealing with heavier wind/chop and overpowered conditions
- Rigging and (advanced) self-rescue
- Improved sailing stance/technique
- Fast-tacking on smaller boards
- Using the harness and footstraps
- Water starts
- Clew-first sailing (low-wind jibe practice)
- Backwind sailing and heli-tacking
- Planing jibes
If you want to get the most out of your windsurfing lessons, read Bill Prinzmetal's How to Windsurf guide here on this website! Also read the CSC Introduction to Windsurfing handbook, you'll need it to pass the Novice and Jr Windsurfer written tests.
Windsurfing Teachers: check out our lesson plan for Novice Windsurfers!
Fast Track Sailing Lessons are designed to help sailing students get their Junior Skipper rating faster. The Fast Tracks typically consist of 5 consecutive evenings (usually 5-8pm) of sailing lessons. Advance sign-up of both students and instructors is required. Students must complete their written test, rigging test, and at least 2 hours additional work before they are allowed to sign up.
All the Fast Track courses are completed for this season. The next session will be scheduled for a date to be determined in May next year. This will be announced in the Cal-Sailing-Announce email list when determined at the beginning of next year.
Intermediate and Advanced Lessons
Sailing Clinics and Seminars are offered periodically on subjects such as use of the club's Lasers and JY15's, gennakers and spinnakers, rescuing a person overboard, outboard motor use and care, rudderless sailing, knots, etc. Be sure to check out our calendar for special clinics and events.
Keelboat Sailing Lessons for intermediate sailors are given on Wednesday evenings. All members are welcome to the lessons but tiller time preference is given to students who have their Junior rating and intend to get a Senior rating. The lessons are given on the club's six keelboats that are kept on J dock in the Berkeley Marina harbor. The lessons typically last three hours. Students rig the boats, and practice steering, keeping watch, man overboard drill, VHF radio use, compass use, tillerless sailing, changing headsails, spinnaker, and docking. The lessons are usually announced by the teachers who will teach that Wednesday night in the Cal-Sailing-Announce email list. To take a lesson, just come down to J-dock on University Avenue opposite to the Club house, next to the Marina offices. If you have any questions about keelboat instruction or about becoming a senior skipper, please contact the Rear Commodore.
Intermediate Windsurfing Classes are given periodically and cover such topics as high wind sailing stance (on-land simulator), sail rigging, waterstarts, planing jibe (on-land simulator), and safety equipment (what to take when you venture out on your own). Seminars are open to the general public, and club members are eligible to take the on-water clinics such as waterstarting.
CSC is a wonderful and safe place to learn sailing and windsurfing. All instruction includes a thorough discussion of key safety equipment and practices before getting on the water. This includes understanding and using basic safety equipment such as personal flotation devices (PFDs) and wetsuits, helping students check and set up equipment, understanding right-of-way rules and best practices, learning to use the buddy and the check-out/check-in systems at CSC so no one goes unaccounted, understanding that being on the water while impaired with alcohol or drugs poses a serious risk, identifying area boundaries and physical hazards, and understanding self-rescue and distress signaling practices including VHF marine radio and cellphone options.