Youth Skill Levels & Classes


Skill Levels and Classes Offered


Sailing is both a very physical and a highly conceptual sport. Students learn at different rates and in different ways. Some students grasp the practical side quickly, while the theory eludes them. For others it is just the opposite. Students also retain information very differently.  Sail Newport's goal is to make sure students are placed in a class (boat and skill level) that will help them succeed to the best of their ability, and have fun while they are learning!  Factors that we take into consideration in making placements include:
  • age
  • height
  • weight
  • personal interest
  • goals (cruising, racing)

Classes Offered:

Beginner Classes

Beginner Classes are for students who may have little or no experience on the water, in sailboats, or, they do not have a history of organized instructional experience. These classes cover the fundamentals: how to rig, de-rig and care for the boats and equipment, capsize recove r y, understanding the wind, how to tack and jibe. Students are introduced to the different points of sail, and basic "rules of the road." Beginner dinghy classes are taught using Prams (ages 7–11), and RS Quests (ages 11–16) and in the keelboat program J/22s (ages 12 - 17)

Beginner-Intermediate Classes

For students who have completed just one session as a beginner, most will move to a Beginner/Intermediate class where they can continue to solidify their skills. This is particularly true of students who are only sailing for a few weeks each season. Beginner/Intermediate dinghy classes are taught using Optimists, Hartlie 10's and Bugs (generally ages 7–12), and RS Quests (generally ages 11–17) and in the keelboat program J/22s (ages 12 - 17).

Intermediate Classes (pre-requisite Sail Newport Beginner Class and recommendation of the instructor, or its equivalent)

Builds on the basics with students learning the finer points of boat handling and sail theory. There is an emphasis on developing confidence for sailing alone. Other topics can include currents, weather, a little navigation and more. Dinghy classes are taught in Optimists, Hartlie 10s and Bugs (ages 7–14), Quests and 420s (ages 13–17) and in the keelboat program J/22s (ages 12 - 17).

Advanced Classes (pre-requisite Sail Newport Intermediate Class and recommendation of the instructor, or its equivalent)


Club 420s (typically for ages 14–17 with two sessions of intermediate 420 classes)

Covers advanced boat-handling, spinnaker and trapeze use, tuning and sail trim. Popular with students who are interested in learning advanced boat handling skills, possibly with a future interest in racing.

Opti's (after completing intermediate level, typically ages 10 - 14)

Covers advanced boat handling. Everything from fine-tuning sail trim and shape to roll tacking and gybing. Popular with students who are interested in learning advanced boat handling skills, possibly with a future interest in racing.


 J/22s are used for advanced boat handling as well as beginner and intermediate. Skills including fine tuning sail trim and shape, using spinnakers and advanced seamanship.

The Boats We Sail

Optimists & Prams

8’ pram for ages 7–11, used by Little Guppies and for dinghy sailors from beginners to racers.  Sailors move out of Optis and into other boats when they out-grow or age out of them.  A student can comfortably sail an Opti until they are over five feet + and/or 110 pounds, and they are eligible to race in Optimists until they turn 15.


The Laser Performance Bug combine ease of rigging with fun and performance. Easily sailed by students young and old, the Bugs are a fun, safe and durable sailboat for instruction, appropriate for intermediate and advanced sailors ages 9 - 13.


Hartlie 10s

The Hartlie 10 is a versatile cat rigged boat that can be comfortably sailed by 1 or 2 sailors (typical weight / height range is 70 lbs - 120 lbs and 5').   They're comfortable, stable and fun, and good for beginner/intermediate to advanced sailors ages 8 - 13.

RS Quests

A versatile, comfortable and stable sloop rigged platform for beginner to intermediate and advanced level sailors, ages 11 - 17 (weight and height dependent).  The Quest can comfortably accommodate 3-4 sailors and also is rigged with an asymmetrical spinnaker for advanced/performance sailing.

Scholastic 420s & Club 420s


420s are sloop rigged two person dinghies used by 13–17 year-old intermediate, advanced and racing sailors. Min. weight requirement of 115 lbs.

  • Scholastic rigged 420's sail with main and jib only for intermediate level sailors
  • Advanced / performance and racing sailors use Club 420s  rigged w/spinnakers and trapeze gear


22-foot sloop rigged keelboats used in the keelboat classes by all skill levels. Groups of four students of similar skill level and ages sail with an instructor. The J22 is a performance oriented keelboat comfortably managed by 12–17 year olds. The boats include a spinnaker for more advanced student skill levels.