Telephone: (203) 245-2714

Sailing FAQs

MBC Sailing Program

MBC Sailing FAQ’s

When are junior sailing classes held, and what class is right for me?

Sailing classes are held from 9AM-12 Noon and 1:30-4:30PM on weekdays between June 24 and August 16 and are booked by week (so five class sessions are held in each week). For 2019, both morning and afternoon classes will be designed to accommodate a wide range of ages and will incorporate a high focus on “waterfront adventures” as well as fundamental skills and seamanship. Of course, a core component of all classes will be learning how to safely rig and sail a boat, and for more advanced sailors, refinement of skills needed to race successfully. With this instruction approach, families are strongly encouraged to speak with the Waterfront Director and Head Sailing Instructor to assess the best class for their child based on age, experience, interests and availability. Wherever possible we’ll seek to accommodate all sailors!!

What do they do in class?

MBC’s junior program incorporates flexibility to tailor daily lesson plans to the abilities of the enrolled students, the weather conditions and the children’s interests and ages. That said, a more typical day would involve a short planning discussion at the beginning of class to establish the learning goals for the day, followed by children rigging the boats (or other watercraft) to be used in the lesson. After launching off MBC’s beach or docks, sailors will use the areas in the harbor and between Tuxis Island and West Wharf to sail and explore. Class will end with boats returned to the beach and/or junior sailing boatyard, derigging/clean up, and a short debrief on the day’s learning.

Who are the instructors?

MBC employs three sailing instructors each summer who bring strong qualifications, safe-boating and first-aid skills, and a genuine interest in developing young sailors and confident kids. For 2019, our Head Instructor Andrew Levie is returning, and he is joined by Colin Hart who will provide all-around sailing instruction for all levels. Both Colin and Andrew hail from Ireland where they have grown up as junior sailors, worked previously as instructors and currently train with their university sailing programs. Andrew and Colin are joined by Lily Kaiser from Branford. Lily grew up sailing and racing at the Pine Orchard Yacht Club and has particular interest in helping MBC’s youngest sailors get comfortable around boats and the waterfront.

The sailing instructors are supervised and supported by MBC’s Waterfront Director, Tom Merritt. Now in his fourth year at MBC, Tom shares their goals for developing self-confident boaters who can make the most of MBC’s sailing resources.

What type of clothing/gear do I need to participate?

As an outdoor sport involving wind, sun and lots of water, children should have a range of clothing to be comfortable. At a minimum a bathing suit and light colored, quick drying top made from a “tech” fabric is strongly encouraged. Foot protection is required during class, and there are many lightweight, slip-on beach shoes and boots, as well as more traditional boating shoes available. A U.S. Coast Guard approved life jacket (properly sized for the child) with a whistle is required. Finally, a hat/visor, sunscreen and sunglasses are recommended for bright days.

Optional items to increase comfort on windier/wetter days would be lightweight, water repellent/water proof jackets or pullovers and a pair of sailing gloves.

A list of resources for youth sailing clothing and gear is available from the junior program instructors and Waterfront Director.

What age must a child be to participate?

To participate in class a child must turn 7 by December 31, 2019 and instruction will be provided up to ages 16. In 2019, classes will be designed to accommodate a wider range of ages in both the morning and afternoon, however MBC’s Waterfront Director will assist in placing students based on experience and age. Our goal is to be as flexible as possible and accommodate any interested sailor based on their availability, but we want to ensure sailors can enjoy learning with their peers and have the best range of options for their individual development.

What kind of boats are used in classes?

MBC’s fleets include Optimists, 420s, Lasers, Open Bic’s and new for 2019, the exciting RS Feva. In addition, classes have access to MBC’s new Sonar and may occasionally use a member boat such as the Atlantic, Lighting or a cruising boat for special trips.

Who is “in charge” of sailing, and who can I contact with questions?

MBC’s Commodore Chris de Chabert and Vice-Commodore Josh Gleason oversee the wide range of junior and adult sailing activities and events throughout the summer. They are always available to discuss any aspect of our programs. Parents can also contact the Waterfront Director, Tom Merritt, who is ever-present supporting the efforts of instructors, lifeguards and our dock staff throughout the summer. Finally, our Junior Sailing chairperson, Gately Swearingen, can provide a parent perspective on all aspects of junior sailing.

Do I need to own a boat?

No. MBC owns, or has access to, a wide ranges of sailing craft suitable for use with our junior sailors. However, if a child has a strong interest in sailing and/or wishes to race in local regattas, ownership of boat can be advantageous. The sailing instructors, as well as the junior program leadership team within the MBC Sailing Committee, can provide significant advice to help guide a decision on purchasing a boat. Please let Tom Merritt know if you would like to speak with our staff or members about this.

In addition to sailboats, our junior sailing classes may use kayaks, paddleboards and other waterfront craft to explore the harbor, beaches and Tuxis Island as part of developing knowledge about weather, tides and current, navigation and the local sea life. A mixture of MBC and private craft are shared for this purpose.

MBC’s range of boats will allow for varied types of sailing instruction, and this is a key strength of the program. Boats can be selected based on weather and student ability. During more inclement weather, if getting on the water is not possible, sailors can use the Jr Sailing Room to play instructional games or engage in experiments and crafts to teach the principles of sailing.

Are there any special events/activities for sailors?

Yes! Aside from the regular morning and afternoon sailing classes, the junior program will look to schedule an overnight/weekend trip to a destination like Block Island or Fishers Island where sailors can experience a new venue, and MBC hosts a Junior Regatta each summer which attracts sailors from nearby clubs and affords some easy, entry-level racing for interested children. Our more advanced sailors may do day-trips to regattas at other CT clubs where they receive coaching from an MBC instructor. In addition to these outings, the junior program holds fun events like the “gumball race” around Tuxis Island and a parent-child “fun race” inside the harbor. Working with MBC’s Young Adults committee, junior sailing is also planning a beach barbecue and early evening sail one Monday this summer. Other special events are in the works and will be promoted through weekly MBC emails and announcements.

In addition to the activities above, MBC offers two week-long camps known as “MBC Squared” – or MBC2. MBC2 is a full-day program providing waterfront sailing and activities in the morning and tennis instruction in the afternoon. MBC2 will be the weeks of June 24-28 and August 5-9. Please contact Erin Riley at for information on camp registration, or see the MBC2 page on the club website.

If I enroll in sailing lessons do I have to race?

No! The focus on MBC Junior Sailing is to develop children’s ability to enjoy sailing recreationally. Some sailors eventually take an interest in racing and can receive instruction to prepare them for regattas, however the program’s main focus is on developing the fundamental skills that allow all children to enjoy being on the water safely.

Are there classes for adults?

2019, we will be offering private and semi-private adult sailing instruction on weekday evenings, or on weekends, based on interest and mutually convenient scheduling with the instructors. Instruction can accommodate all abilities and can be provided on MBC’s larger Sonar for comfort or in a member’s boat if suitable. “Classes” can be highly social and we welcome groups of parents, moms or families to come see how fun it is to explore our waterfront before dinner or socializing at the club. Adult sailing options will be promoted regularly throughout the summer – look for information in the MBC weekly email and on bulletin boards!

There are so many camps and activity options in the summer – why sail in Madison?

Where to begin? A partial list of reasons….

  • Sailing is a true lifetime sport which can be learned at any age and is easily enjoyed in Madison’s home waters, or anywhere a sailor cares to travel.
  • Like skiing, climbing and mountain biking, sailing challenges the body, mind and spirit. These outdoor sports occur in the beauty and unpredictability of nature. Having the knowledge, skill and self-reliance to feel confident on the water and appreciate both challenges and accomplishments is empowering!
  • In competition, sailing provides a uniquely level “playing field”. Male and female sailors can compete equally against each other in almost any boat. Children can race effectively with and against adults. All shapes, sizes and ages can sail – there’s a boat for everyone.
  • Sailing at MBC is convenient and a great value. The Club offers a place to go before and after classes, locker and showers for changing, and easy access to other MBC activities like tennis and swimming.

How do I register for sailing classes?

You can register for junior sailing classes in three ways:

Important: Advance registration is strongly encouraged. Knowing enrollment in advance allows MBC’s sailing instructors to plan appropriately for lessons and provide important advance information to sailor families. Last minute “day-of” registrations take time away from class instruction and may cause a student to be unprepared for the first day of classes. In busy weeks, last minute registrations may not be accepted. Parents should make every effort to register for classes as far in advance as possible.

What is the cost?

A week of sailing includes 5 afternoon or morning session classes and costs $160. Families who register by Wednesday of the preceding week will receive a $20 discount. Please note that the week-ending July 19 will consist of 4 days of lessons (as July 19th is the MBC Junior Regatta) and cost $128. Payment is not due at the time of registration. MBC will bill families for their enrollment

Have other questions?