Yachting New Zealand is the national body charged with developing recreational and competitive sailing in this country. Learn to Sail is a national programme developed by Yachting New Zealand. The programme covers the basic skills and is offered in both a dinghy sailing option and a keelboat sailing option.

While the programme is taught mainly at Yacht Clubs it is increasingly offered by Commercial Sailing Schools. Sailing...Have a Go! is a programme offered to schools throughout the country. It is designed to give students in Year 6, 7 & 8 the opportunity to experience the pleasure of sailing in a safe & well managed environment and most importantly, have fun!

Age to start:

Many yacht clubs run introductory sailing lessons for children as young as 6 years of age. Children learn rigging Optimist Dinghies, tying basic knots, nautical games and basic hands on sailing in non threatening shallow water. There are other programs for children to progress through so as to become a competent sailor.

Rules of the game:

Children will learn basic safety and sailing principles rather than abide by particular rules. When children become more adept with sailing they can enter competitions and races that will be governed by a set of rules.


Sailing is a suitable activity for boys and girls to participate in. It is a great way for children to learn about water safety and the principles of sailing. A child’s mental capacity and ability to think will be challenged as they learn how to sail.

It is important that children are able to swim and are confident around water before undertaking any sailing lessons.

Sign up dates:

Often yacht clubs run learn to sail programs over the school holiday period. Usually the programs operate during the September, Christmas and April school holidays. Contact your local yacht club for further details about the particular programs they are running for children.

Sporting tips:

In order to successfully participate in sailing you require;

  • An affinity for the outdoors and the water
  • Swimming ability and confidence around water
  • The ability to recognise weather conditions.
  • The ability to adapt quickly to weather conditions

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