Sailing School

The Grand Rapids Junior Sailing Association, on site at the Grand Rapids Yacht Club on Reeds Lake, offers: 8 one week youth sessions and separate adult sessions meeting once per week for 8 weeks. Students at all levels will experience the thrill of sailing through a variety of games, activities, and informal competitions designed to develop boat handling and safety skills. Class size is limited. The younger students will learn to sail on a nearly indestructible boat Optimist Pram. Older students and Adults will learn on the 12-foot Butterfly, or 420 sailboats are used with experienced sailors. 

Class Descriptions

Sailing Explorer

Beginning Sailors – children who have completed kindergarten to about 9 yrs old. This class is designed to give your child a controlled introduction to the world of sailing with an instructor on board. Learning boat parts, basic knots, nautical terms and water safety will be the focus. This class will build confidence and security on the water. Students sail in groups of 2-3 per boat with an instructor on board. We encourage signing up for at least two sessions, if not more, depending on instructor evaluation. The next class level will not have an instructor on board.

Opti 1

Ages 7+ with some sailing experience. Students will sail with a partner, taking turns steering as they build confidence on our nearly indestructible opti boats. No instructor on board, instructors coach from power boats nearby. Focus will be on learning boat parts, points of sail, wind direction, water safety and how to rig a boat. We encourage signing up for at least 2 or 3 sessions and moving up once the instructor recommends it. Please note, the next level class, Opti 2, is sailing an Opti single-handed, this means students should move up when they have enough confidence and know-how to sail alone.

Opti 2

Recommended for ages 9+ with instructor approval following the successful completion of Opti 1. This class builds on knowledge of boat parts, points of sail, wind direction and water safety. Learn to rig and sail an Opti independently with confidence. Instructors continue to build on prior knowledge. No instructor on board, one student per sailboat. When the instructor evaluation says your child has mastered the class, usually after 2-3 sessions, please ask about Race Team and Junior Sailing through GRYC! Once your child meets the weight requirement of 70lbs, the next level class is Butterfly 1.

Butterfly 1

Ages 9 thru teenager – minimum weight 70lbs. Students sail with a partner, no instructor onboard. Butterfly sailboats are bigger and require more crew weight to keep them upright on the water, so there is a child weight minimum for sailing. Students will learn boat parts, wind direction, water safety and how to rig and sail a butterfly with a partner.

Butterfly 2

Advanced class building on skills from Butterfly 1. Learn to single-handedly (sail alone) sail a butterfly with confidence. No partner or instructor on board. After a successful completion of a couple sessions, talk to the instructor about Race Team and Junior Sailing through GRYC.


There are several factors that go into deciding what class is the right fit for your child: age, experience, confidence, and weight. If you’d like help navigating the classes, please reach out to someone on the board, we’re happy to talk it through with you! At the end of each session, your child will receive an evaluation and next class recommendation from their instructor, it’ll be good to make note of those for future class sign-ups.