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Offshore Keel Boat Training: For High School Sailors

Narragansett Bay Summer 2022

YASA is excited to launch Young American, YA-63, on the Narragansett Bay summer of 2022. High school sailors will have the opportunity to hone their skills in the arts and sciences of offshore keel boat sailing.

The Goal of the YASA junior keel boat program is to:

Instruct and mentor high school age sailors in the arts and sciences of sailing on keel boats of a kind suitable for overnight, offshore sailing and racing. The intended outcome is a cohort of sailors with the skills to be crew members on such boats.

The vessel we use is of the J/105 class.

To this end the instruction will cover the following area: 


  1. Bow

  2. Mast

  3. Pit

  4. Headsail trimmer

  5. Grinder

  6. Mainsail trimmer

  7. Helm

Within each position the overview instruction will include:

  • Preparing the boat for leaving a mooring or dock, including practice planning and safety check.

  • Instruction from the Person in Charge as to the planned activities for a particular session.

  • Hoisting sails

  • Safely negotiating the navigation away from the harbor

  • Sail trim for jib and main

  • Reefing mainsail

  • Handling an asymmetrical spinnaker.

  • Co-ordinated crew work with a view to developing the understanding of teamwork with multiple crew members.


Operating a yacht of the type we use incorporates many elements that are not “sailing” but are germane to the sailor’s skill set and ability and so value to an owner as a crew member. Topics and subjects pertinent to this area include:

  • Navigation including use of GPS and performance instrumentation

  • Anchoring, mooring & docking

  • Rules of the road

  • Safety protocols


As situations permit there will be discussion of the systems and equipment incorporated in such yachts.

  • The marine diesel engine

  • Safety equipment

  • Cooking equipment

  • Bilge pumps 

  • Hydraulics

  • Steering systems

  • Heads and related plumbing systems

  • Composite structures and repairs

  • Masts, standing and running rigging 


  • Participation at all classes is required.

  • Each student will rotate through all positions.

  • Each student may declare a position that they prefer, but only after one complete rotation thru the 7 positions.

  • Successful completion of the course will be a demonstration of the handling of the boat from departure, thru sailing, maneuvering, delegating and leading the crew, returning to, and securing the boat at the dock.

  • Questions about and oral answers to the SYSTEMS components demonstrating a reasonable understanding of the issue will be considered.

  • Successful students will be awarded a Certificate of Accomplishment.​

Students and parents should bear in mind the following:

  • This is not a learn to sail program

  • A baseline level of skills and sailing knowledge is expected. Skills in rigging, launching, sailing, managing the crew, commanding the boats, returning to shore and unrigging a dinghy like a 420 is expected.

  • It is anticipated that “sailing” will occur every day of the course session and the majority of the sailing will be on the boat on the water. In the event the weather is unsuitable, “sailing” will take place but will be of the chalk talk instruction type, likely on the boat unless circumstances dictate this is unsafe.


Clothing: Even in high summer on the water the air can be cool. Sailors need to be prepared for the conditions forecast. DO not preempt the temperature inland. What might be 75 or 80 degrees inland might be only in the high 60’s on the water and less with wind and less again as the sun sets. When you get wet, it is likely you will get cold

Life Jacket: Your dinghy sailing one is adequate

Close toe shoes are mandatory. 

No open toed shoes, Tevea, flip flops and similar shoes are NOT PERMITTED. Students arriving so clad will not be permitted aboard.


“Yachting shoes” are not required, any soft soled sneakers like shoe ideally with a light sole is acceptable


Each student shall bring a small gear bag with their extra clothing in it.


Handy gear to bring: Sunscreen, sunglasses, hat or cap, your favorite Scooby snacks, fleecy jacket, swim suit and a reusable water bottle. There will be water aboard with which to refill such bottles. YASA frowns on the use of single use water bottles.


A waterproof jacket and pants if you have them.




Sailing is, as your students will have discovered, pretty simple, fun and exciting and is a sport for a lifetime.


The background to these YASA courses is to develop the kinds of ancillary skills over and above pure sailing, that will give your student the skills suitable to owning their own boats in the future and to be a valuable member of an offshore keel boat team.


The coaches and instructors we use have a lifetime of experiences from the America’s Cup and transatlantic passages on down. OUR collective mind set is that if you are skilled in something, you owe it to the next generation to pass it on.


YASA sailors have won the Newport to Bermuda Race, sailed in the Sydney to Hobart Race, are crew on some of the most high-performance boats on the water and made deliveries aboard some of the most sophisticated offshore sailing boats on the planet. And they love it.

Our goal is to develop that passion and those life experiences for the next generation.


Joe Cooper

Head coach, YASA

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