Photo by: Karen Tenenbaum

Boston Yacht Club Junior Sailing:
the next generation of sailors and stewards of the sea!

Our junior sailing programs are designed to teach students to sail in a safe, fun, and noncompetitive environment; building a young sailor’s confidence so that they feel comfortable and secure on the water. Each session is three weeks long: Mondays through Thursdays. We offer morning sessions for beginning sailors (8:30 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.) or afternoon sessions for intermediate sailors (1:00 p.m. - 4:30 p.m.) sessions. Sailors must be entering at least 1st grade and be able to pass a swim test to participate. Many of our sailors continue with our junior sailing program through their middle school years. Sailors are grouped in boats by age and previous sailing skills, with programs in both Sonars and Optimist prams. The BYC's Junior Sailing programs are open to both members and the general public.

The Sonar Program

Our Sonar program is intended for the child new to sailing or returning sailors who prefer to sail in larger boats. With a small group of sailors learning together on each boat, children learn the basics of boat handling while growing a lifelong appreciation for the ocean and the sport of sailing. Our youngest and most inexperienced sailors are highly encouraged to participate in the morning programs. Older sailors or those returning to the Sonar program with confidence and skill should consider the afternoon sessions!

Scroll down to read more about our different Sonar classes and to register now.

the opti program

Our Opti program promotes solid sailing skills and lifelong friendships. The Opti program is for the sailor who has some sailing experience, is ready to sail solo, and is looking to increase their self-reliance on the water. New to an Opti? The morning program will be your best fit! Comfortable on your own and in a good breeze?  Then the afternoon program is the place for you!

Scroll down to read more about our different Opti classes and to register now.


Looking to brush up on your skills, take a few turns around the harbor, or learn in an individually-tailored environment? The BYC Junior Sailing program offers private sailing lessons with our US Sailing certified instructors throughout the summer season! Lessons are offered after 5 PM on Mondays-Thursdays, and Fridays-Sundays from morning to sunset, per instructor availability. Private Lessons are open to sailors of all ages!

Scroll down to read more about our different private lessons and to register now.

  • Class Descriptions
    • Sonar Program

      Our emphasis is on safety, familiarity with being on a boat, having fun on the water, and cultivate a love of sailing so they may grown in a worldwide co-ed sport that can be enjoyed for a lifetime. Our junior sailing program is for suitable for children that can swim and likes the water. Instructors are in the boats with the children.

      Learn to Sail: Age 6-8

      Introduces young children to sailing in a safe and enjoyable way. Daily sessions are filled with great activities based around sailing in the harbor. A good choice for kids who are too young for the Opti program or who need to build confidence on the water before joining the Opti program. Must have finished at least 1st grade and be able to pass the swim test to participate.
      $550 members/ $610 non-members
      Offered: Morning Sessions 1, 2, & 3

      Beginner: Ages 9-15

      No prior sailing experience required. Each session covers basic familiarity with sailing terms and boat handling required for the intermediate class. Boats are grouped by both age and ability. Have a friend request? Let us know and we will do our best to group sailors together when possible. Must be able to pass the swim test to participate.
      $550 members/ $610 non-members
      Offered: Morning Sessions 1, 2, & 3

      Intermediate: Ages 9-15

      Completion of BYC’s Beginner or Introduction to Sailing class (or equivalent) required for admission. Class focuses on creating competent, confident keelboat sailors using full main and jib. Boats are grouped by both age and ability. Have a friend request? Let us know and we will do our best to group sailors together when possible.  Must be able to pass the swim test to participate.
      $550 members/ $610 non-members
      Offered: Afternoon Sessions 1, 2, & 3


      Opti Program

      The optimist program brings sailing to the next level. Each student has their own boat and our emphasis is on safety and fun! The program mixes a “learn to sail” curriculum with other activities to help foster a connection between sailing and fun. Instructors are not in the boats with children, but instead teach alongside from "coach boats."

      Beginner: Ages 8-15

      For sailors who have completed the Sonar program or equivalent. Beginning Opti sailors will learn basic familiarity with water safety, rigging, sailing terms, and boat handling. Must have finished at least 1st grade and be able to pass the swim test to participate.
      $550 members/ $610 non-members
      Offered: Morning Sessions 1, 2, & 3

      Intermediate: Ages 8-15

      Completion of beginner Opti program or its equivalent. The intermediate Opti program focuses on creating a competent, confident sailor who is able to safely navigate the harbor and surrounding areas. Must be able to pass the swim test to participate.
      $550 members/ $610 non-members
      Offered: Afternoon Sessions 1, 2, & 3

      Private Lesson Program

      Private lessons are offered after 5 PM on Mondays-Thursdays, and Fridays-Sundays from morning to sunset, with our US Sailing certified instructors, per instructor availability. Private Lessons are open to sailors of all ages! We recommend scheduling your lessons early to secure your favorite days and times. Lessons must be scheduled at least 24 hours in advance. Cancellations within 24-hours of the scheduled lesson, or missed lessons, are subject to the full fee. In the case of inclement weather, lessons may be rescheduled at the discretion of the head instructor. 
      $45/hour for the 1st student in the boat.
      $10/hour per each additional person in the boat.
      Offered: May - September, per instructor availability
       Inquire Here

  • Registration

    • 2019 Learn-to-Sail, Sonar, and Opti Summer Program

       Register Here

      Session 1 AM: June 24 - July 11, 8:30 am - 12:00 pm (Mondays - Thursdays)
      Session 1 PM: June 24 - July 11, 1:00 pm- 4:30 pm (Mondays - Thursdays)
      Session 2 AM: July 15 - August 1, 8:30 am - 12:00 pm (Mondays - Thursdays)
      Session 2 PM: July 15 - August 1, 1:00 pm- 4:30 pm (Mondays - Thursdays)
      Session 3 AM: August 5 - August 22, 8:30 am - 12:00 pm (Mondays - Thursdays)
      Session 3 PM: August 5 - August 22, 1:00 pm- 4:30 pm (Mondays - Thursdays)

      Early Bird registration for members: December 2018 - January 2019
      Open registration for all: mid-February 2019 - May 2019
      Late registration: June 2019 - August 2019 *No classes on Independence Day. Make up class held on 6/28

      2019 Private Lesson Program

      5 PM - Sunset, Mondays - Thursdays; May - September, per instructor availability
      8AM - Sunset, Fridays - Sundays; May - September, per instructor availability
      Lessons must be scheduled at least 24 hours in advance.
      Cancellations within 24-hours or missed lessons, are subject to the full fee.
      In the case of inclement weather, lessons may be rescheduled at the discretion of the head instructor. 
      $45/hour for the 1st student in the boat.
      $10/hour per each additional person in the boat.

       Inquire Here

  • Program Facilities
    • Fleet

      Optis: The sailing program also utilizes Vanguard prams to learn steering and sail-trimming skills necessary to continue in the sport of sailing.

      Sonars: The sailing program has 2 club Sonars to take a small crew of students and build crewmanship along with developing and understanding the separate skills involved in sailing and how they work together.


      Although emphasis is placed on spending time on the water, classroom time is used to explain to the student basic sailing knowledge including terminology, safe boat handling. The classroom is also utilized on bad weather days to provide fun and educational time when it is not appropriate to be out on the water.


      Our waterfront facility is set up specifically for the easy and safe access to the boats and harbor for the students. It is recessed from boat traffic and in plain view of the waterfront personnel, the dock house and the sailing instructor office. Boats are launched, rigged and returned to this dock each day giving the students the experience of rigging, handling and caring for the boats by helping the instructors.

  • Sailing Staff
    •  Garrett McKinnon - Head Sailing Instructor
      Garrett McKinnon is a Junior at the College of Charleston. He sails competitively for CofC and is a former tri-captain of the Marblehead High School sailing team. He has competed in numerous national, local and global competitions in a broad range of boats including dinghies and keelboats. When Garrett is not on the water, he can be seen at the gym, the beach, or enjoying the company of his friends. Garret is very excited to be returning to the BYC sailing staff this summer!

      Tucker Braun - Sailing Instructor
      Tucker Braun is a rising sophomore at Mass Maritime, majoring in Marine Engineering. He is a former tri-captain of Marblehead High School's sailing team, the Fishwagons, and sails in collegiate big boat teams.  He has competed in numerous sailing competitions in multiple boats' Optis, C420s, Sonars, FJs, and a custom Taylor 38' EOS at last year's Halifax offshore race.  Last summer Tucker took part in the Newport-Bermuda race as a member of a crew who were all under 22 years old.  He is excited to be part of the BYC Junior Sailing program again and is looking forwards to teaching sailing this summer!

      Kristy Twaalfhoven - Sailing Instructor
      Kristy graduated from high school this year, and will be attending UC Berkeley in the fall. She sailed and raced Optis, 420s, & Lasers at Pleon Yacht Club for seven years. This is her second summer teaching sailing at the Boston Yacht Club. Along with her love for spending time on the water, Kristy loves to run, and was captain of the the MHS Cross Country, Winter Track, and Spring Track teams this past year. She is also the lead guitarists in a classic rock band. Kristy is looking forward to another great summer at the BYC!

      Eric O'Connor - Sailing Instructor
      Eric O'Connor is graduating from Marblehead High School this spring and plans on attending Stockholm University starting next fall. Eric is finishing his fourth and final season on the MHS Sailing Team, having been a co-captain his Junior and Senior years. For the past 11 summers Eric sailed at Pleon Yacht Club, racing and instructing Optis, C420s, & Sonars. He also raced on the 420 Race Team, competing on the east coast C420 regatta circuit for three seasons. In the future, Eric will work as a sailing instructor in Stockholm, Sweden while (hopefully) attending medical school. Eric is ready for a great summer of sailing and looks forward to passing on his love for the sport!

      Islay Van Dusen - Sailing Instructor
      Islay Van Dusen grew up in Marblehead, but spent summers sailing in Penobsot Bay, Maine. She graduated from Marblehead High School last spring and has spent the year traveling, volunteering, and sailing before attending the George Washington University this coming September. As part of her gap year she completed the Newport to Bermuda Race with fellow instructor Tucker, and worked on classic racing yachts in the Caribbean as a deckhand. Islay has taught sailing and coached racing for the past two summers while also racing on, and captaining, the MHS sailing team. Islay is looking forward to another fun summer on the water at the BYC.

      Grant Adam - Sailing Instructor
      Grant is a graduating senior at Marblehead High School and a racer on the MHS Sailing Team for all four years of high school. He is currently one of the team's co-captains, sailing in the State Championship -which the MHS team won. Grant is planning on continuing to sail in college, on the Brown Sailing Team. In addition to the the sailing team, he raced C420s at Pleon where he was also a junior instructor for two seasons. Grant is looking forward to coaching at Boston Yacht Club this summer!

      Ryan Hamilton - Sailing Instructor
      Ryan Hamilton is 18 years old and a recent graduate from Marblehead High School. He will be attending the University of Vermont this upcoming fall and will compete on UVM's sailing team. He grew up sailing at Pleon Yacht Club, progressing from the basic classes to the 420 Race Team over the course of 10 years. He also sailed for the Marblehead High School Fishwagons all four years of high school, supporting the team in its victory at the 2018 Massachusetts State Championship. Ryan sailed in the 420 primarily as crew, but also skippered as needed. Throughout the three years that he was on the 420 Race Team at Pleon, Ryan and his skipper, fellow BYC instructor, Eric O'Connor traveled all over the East Coast racing in some of the most competitive 420 fleets in the country. Along with extensive dinghy experience, he raced IODs the past two summers and participated in Sonar match racing. He received multiple awards while sailng at PYC including the Margaret McKim trophy for best crew, the Peavar Bowl for most improved boat, and the iconic Man Trophy. Ryan worked as a Junior Instructor at Pleon the past two summers, learning vital coaching skills that he will put to use this season. When it's too cold to be sailing, you can typically find Ryan skiing. He competed on the MHS Ski Team, helping to rack up 3 straight team State Championships for Marblehead. Ryan is very excited for the summer to begin and to teach the next generation of great sailors!

      Nolan Adam - Junior Instructor
      Nolan Adam is an upcoming junior in high school at St. John's Prep. He has sailed 420s for the past two summers, taking part in large competitive 420 regattas -primarily as crew. He also has sailed Optis for the past four years, earning high rankings in many regattas around New England. Outside of dinghy sailing Nolan has keelboats experience with the Rhodes 19 and Sonars. He is looking forward to passing his experience on to younger sailors. 

      The BYC sailing committee is currently accepting applications for Summer Sailing Instructors for the 2019 season. Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis until positions are filled. Most positions are available for June-August, however there are some shoulder season opportunities for motivated sailing instructors. Candidates must possess strong interpersonal, sailing, and teaching skills. Minimum qualifications include current US Sailing Instructor certification, CPR/First Aid training, previous sailing experience, and excellent references. Housing is not available at this time.

      Download the 2019 Summer Sailing Instructor applicationHERE

  • Frequently Asked Questions

      Sailors need to bring closed-toe shoes (e.g. tennis shoes, Crocs, neoprene sailing boots), not flip-flops; a properly-fitting life jacket; sunscreen; and a water bottle. It is also recommended that sailors bring a towel, snack, and change of clothes. Please label all items so that they return to the same home they came from..!


      Sailors will need to pass a short swim test on their first day. This is done at the Crocker Park float. It is to make sure sailors are comfortable and safe in the water.  Sailors will need to swim twenty yards and tread water without a lifejacket.  Make sure your child comes to the first day of sailing wearing a bathing suit and has a towel and that your child is prepared to swim in the ocean.


      Please be on time dropping off in the morning and be prompt picking up at the end of the session. We cannot offer supervision outside of our normal class times.  Running late or absent for the day? Email if your child will be late getting dropped off or picked up, so that the instructor can be informed.  Please note that there are no provisions for lunches, snacks, or supervision between morning and afternoon sessions.

      Can i sign my child up for private lessons?

      Contact the head instructor at 
      $45/hour for first student in boat, $10/hour per additional person in boat.


      Any question should be addressed directly to the Head Instructor who will be available Monday through Thursday from 8:00am to 5:00pm. Email is the primary and preferred method of communication:  The sailing office has a phone with voicemail that can be reached via the front desk at the BYC (781) 631-3100.  The BYC's sailing committee can be reached at

      What does parent INVOLVEMENT look like?

      We have a parent orientation on the Thursday evening before the summer program begins where you will meet the sailing staff, learn about what a day on the water will be like, and review safety routines; please plan to attend. While your child is on the water there are great parks all over Marblehead where you may be able to view your sailor in the harbor.  Crocker Park, Chandler Hovey Lighthouse, and Fort Sewall are just a few!

      Are there any family activities?

      The Family barbeque is open to any sailors, their siblings and parents who have participated and takes place on the last Thursday afternoon of each session.  Sailors have free access to the grill, but other family member are welcome to join to cookout, the bbq is a cash-only event for non-sailors.  The celebration is followed by an informal ceremony where awards and certificates are presented  This is always a huge hit in the past, don't miss out!


      We will always put safety first at BYC, but will not cancel for inclement weather. We always monitor the weather in addition to all instructors being trained to run safe, fun classes. We will hold class inside in the case of thunderstorms, but will sail in most other weather. Come prepared!


      Sorry, for safety reasons, guests may not participate in classes.


      Although the primary purpose of the program is to foster the love of sailing, at times it is appropriate to have some other local sailing-related activity at the discretion of the Head Instructor.


      Email is the primary and preferred method:  Inform the Head Instructor if your child will be missing a class before the class begins for the day.  There are no make-ups for absences. 



      In the event that the school year is extended due to snow days, any missed sailing days at the beginning of the program will be made up on Fridays.
  • The Dan Sullivan Learn-to-Sail Scholarship Fund
    • The Dan Sullivan Learn to Sail Scholarship Fund was established in December 2018 in memory of Dan Sullivan, to enable deserving youth to participate in the Boston Yacht Club's "Learn to Sail" junior sailing class from August 5-22 (Session 3).

      Dan (aka Captain, as his grandchildren affectionately called him) was given his first boat at the age of one, a kayak made by his grandfather. Since that time, his true love has been the sea, especially on sailboats, racing and cruising locally and all over the world. In addition, he was one of the longest active members in the Boston Yacht Club in Marblehead. he took his kids out sailing all the time and spent may hours at sea teaching, listening to his favorite song "Oh Danny Boy," and regaling his stories.

      Applicants for the Dan Sullivan Learn to Sail Scholarship must be ages 6-8, completed first grade, live on the North Shore area, have a passion for life on or around the sea, and must be able to pass our swim test. If your child - or a child you know is interested in taking the Learn to Sail junior sailing class during Session 3, but may not be able to afford tuition, you may apply for a scholarship by filling out the application.

      The goal of the Dan Sullivan Learn to Sail Scholarship Fund is to provide access to sailing programs to participants who otherwise are unable to afford the program. The BYC's Learn to Sail Scholarship Committee will review the scholarship requests on a case by case basis and reserve the right to award scholarship funds based on its sole discretion.

      To apply, please print and fill out the application and return to:
      Junior Sailing
      Boston Yacht Club
      1 Front Street, Marblehead, MA 01945

      or email to

      Deadline: June 1st