Follow the wind to a new hobby. Sailing schools make it easy with classes for beginners.

By Kelsey Ogletree
April 07, 2021
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Sailing Schools
Sailing in Egg Harbor, Wisconsin
| Credit: DANA HALFERTY

Outdoor activity hit a high-water mark during 2020's socially distanced summer—sailing included. "We've seen a huge increase in individuals expressing an interest. People are done with being cooped up," says Todd Bracken of Indianapolis-based Dauntless Sailing School, one of the most active in the Midwest.

Sailing is more affordable than you might imagine, with fees breaking down to as little as $30 per beginner session at some schools. To get started, look for an introductory sailing class. Bracken favors learning on larger boats if possible, since they're more forgiving, and he says most people pick up the basics quickly. "It's like poker. You can learn in a day, but it takes a lifetime to master," Bracken says.

Besides building the strength required to maneuver sails, being on the water helps center your mind, as it's tough to think of anything but staying afloat. You may suddenly become a weather aficionado, too—how and why a boat moves by wind power is fascinating.

Not ready to don your captain's hat? Find a friend who is. One of the best parts of sailing is the community around the sport.

Come sail away

LAKE MANAWA SAILING ASSOCIATION In Council Bluffs, Iowa, this club has a sailing school (and several styles of boats to match your skill level), plus a women's sailing group and racing opportunities. sailmanawa.com

COLUMBIA SAILING SCHOOL The programs at this newly designated Chicago nonprofit include introductory sailing camps for kids and varied classes for adults on a fleet of trusty Colgate 26 sailboats. columbiasailingschool.org

MILWAUKEE COMMUNITY SAILING CENTER The goal of this nonprofit is to make sailing accessible to everyone. Eight-session, two-week courses teach basics like tacking, jibing, docking and proper sail trim. sailingcenter.org