Learn to Sail

Avalon Sailing Club is an Australian Sailing - Discover Sailing Centre and provides courses based on the Discover Sailing Syllabus. Sailing is a sport that can be enjoyed in many different ways, either in yachts or dinghies (small boats also known as centreboards). Avalon has a decades long tradition of teaching adults and children how to sail in boat classes and wind conditions specifically aligned to age (size) and skill of sailor. Avalon has a focused program with around 60-80 children and 10-20 Adults sailing dinghies every Sunday. We also have a yacht fleet of around 40 boats with 10 - 20 competing on any given Sunday.

Most sailing clubs offer the Australian Sailing "Discover Sailing" curriculum as a series of 8 week long courses. At Avalon members sign up for a full season of learn to sail which includes 25 weeks of sailing where they typically complete 2 Discover Sailing  course cirriculum. 

Our Progam is built around the following pathway:

Blue Group: Start Sailing 1 & 2 for absolute beginners aimed at 7 - 14 year olds.

Red Group: Better Sailing & Start Racing for those who have completed Blue Group (or equivalent) and are developing their skills

Gold Group: Club racing in novice & open fleets for adults & children.

Adult Learn to Sail: On demand for yachts & centreboards

For most children we recommend a full season in each of Blue and Red Group before progressing to Gold Group. However sailors can and do move between groups depending on their skill level.

To Register for Kids Learn to Sail (Blue & Red Groups)

Firstly register as a member; select family membership for more than one family member, or junior membership for the one child on our membership page

Secondly regsiter for Blue Group (full season learn to sail for absolute beginners) or Red Group (for those who have completed Blue Group or Discover Sailing 1 & 2) 

We believe that the experience and pathway from absolute beginner to sailing instructor does more that teach our kids how to sail and how to handle boats. They learn life lessons that teach them about the weather, water safety, team work, leadership, respecting each other and the ability to pass on knowledge. They become mature and responsible teenagers which prepares them for the many challenges young adults face when they leave school.

Beginner Options for learning to sail:

  • Blue Group: every Sunday morning in the sailing season from 8:30 - 11, for children aged 7-14 years
  • Red Group: every Sunday morning in the sailing season from 10am- 1pm, for children that have completed Blue Group
  • School Holiday Camps: September, January and April for 3 to 4 days from 9:00 am to 3:30 pm aimed at children. (older children can learn enough in these camps to allow them to join Red Group)
  • Adult Learn to Sail: Based on demand, typically for 3 or 4 consecutive Saturdays from 9:00 am to 3:30 pm in the club's Puffin Pacers
  • Adult crewing on Yachts: Yacht owners are often looking for friendly adults to sail as crew, this can be a permanent or part time and is often a low cost way to get into a boat.

Learn to sail "Blue Group" - Discover Sailing 1 and 2

At Avalon the focus is on introducing sailing principles and having fun. Blue Group is for absolute beginners that learn to sail in the club's own fleet of Iain Murray designed Nippas and Puffin Pacers. Children tend to be aged 7 - 14 years, sailing is every Sunday morning between 8:30 and 11:00 am when the breeze is expected to be light.

It includes things like how to:

  • Know where the wind is coming from
  • Recover from a capsize
  • Basically set your sails ... fully in when going upwind, fully out when going downwind and halfway in between.
  • Balance your boat as the wind increases.
  • Steer the boat in a basic direction
  • Change directions by tacking.
  • Understand that the boat needs to "zig zag" upwind.
  • Wind strength range is about 0~6 (8) knots
  • Allow 12 weeks or a season in Blue

To fast track the learning try to get a crew spot in a gold fleet boat, race and learn. After a season or two, you may be able to jump to skipper in Novice - Gold fleet. The more time spent on the water, the better.

Continue building skills in "Red Group" - Better Sailing and Start Racing.

Sailors who are developing their skills, have normally completed the prior season in Blue Group or other learn to sail program. Sailors will often own their boats or team up with a skipper. Children older than 12 learn faster, and can join Red Group after a week's learn to sail program. Sailing is every Sunday morning between 10am and 1pm. Children are encouraged to join Novice in the afternoon when conditions suit and skills are improving.

Red is about building skills.

  • Tacking and gybing,
  • Sailing competently upwind
  • Balancing the boat effectively, rarely capsize up to 8 knots,
  • Tasting 10 knots occasionally with support.
  • 12 weeks or a season in Red group 

Move up to "Gold Group Novice" - Better Racing

Manly Junior Open and Novice fleets, Bic Silver Fleet, and novices for Flying 11, Spiral and WASZP. Racing is typically in the afternoon. If you are interested in developing racing skills and starting to consider spinnakers, 
Novice is about

  • Understanding the rules
  • Starting line basics
  • Setting Spinnakers
  • Balancing the boat in up to 12~15 knots (both children on side and hiking)
  • Looking for gusts and sometimes seeing them.
  • Helps to get into more focused training
  • Allow a season or two in Novice

Progress to "Open Fleet - Gold PM"  

The afternoon club racing program for Adults and Children in all fleets. Racing is from 2:00pm to 4:30pm in up to 25 Knots.

  • Developing racing skills and tactics
  • Boat handling in various winds from 0 to 25 knots (30knots if front of fleet)
  • Compete in State & National regattas
  • If you want to compete at a world level or Olympics there are more options
  • Avalon is lucky in that we have a number of National and World Champions amongst our members, the skills are there to learn.

Sailing is a game of knowledge,

  • Our instructors and coaches are qualified with many years of experience. All have competed at regattas and most have won trophies at the State and National level.
  • Listen to the instructors and coaches and try to do (and remember) what they suggest.
  • Your club and its members are here to help each other, including you. Fees are to cover costs, not make a profit.
  • Children are taught and encouraged to take responsibility for their learning and looking after the boats.
  • We encourage children to learn at their own pace, promoting them to the next level when they are ready.

Parents can Help

  • Those new to sailing will find the club cutlure and its members very friendly and helpful - if you're not sure or just plain curious then ask the nearest person ! 
  • It makes a huge difference to everyone, especially the children, when parents actively participate and contribute.
  • Prior experience is not neccessary - enthusiasm, cusriosity and positive vibes are far more important.
  • Getting involved and learning along the way is one of the reasons why parents & their children find the experience so rewarding.

What Avalon tries to do

Avalon tries to avoid too much pressure by keeping things fun and engaging more experienced teenagers into the learning process, it is not perfect but has had some great results.

What’s the right option for you ?

Guidelines for those who have completed Red:

  • Younger than 10, < 35 Kgs & still learning = MJ crew
  • 10 - 14 / 30 – 50 Kgs = MJ skipper or BIC or F11 Crew
  • Older than 12, > 40 Kgs still learning = BIC
  • Older than 12, > 40Kgs, some experience = BIC or F11 Skipper

This PDF document provides details on classes, recommended sailing paths, guidance on the right class for your child and links to association websites. 

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