Your guide to the 3 types of sailing certifications in Canada

If you’re learning to sail and want to document your achievements, it’s helpful to know what kinds of certifications are available. In Canada, these three categories generally cover all options.

Your guide to the 3 types of sailing certifications in Canada

Beginning sailing certifications

The Canadian Yachting Association (CSA) has a seven-level certification system for those who want to learn to sail.

  • From White Sail Level One to Gold Sail Level Seven, each progressive level of the certification system focuses on larger and faster boats.
  • By the time students reach level seven, they should be able to race a dinghy and know enough basic handling and maintenance to sail most small- to medium-sized sailboats at speeds up to 35 knots.
  • At the end of the seven-level program, students must complete both a written exam and a practical evaluation of their sailing skills before they can get their certification. At this point, the instructor will sign a certificate or the Learn to Sail Logbook to document that the student has passed.
  • If you already know how to sail, you can skip the levels and take the written and practical exam.

Dinghy certifications

The first boat that beginning sailors become certified to operate is the dinghy, which is an open boat that usually has only one mast and two sails.

There are a large number of individual dinghy sailing certifications available in Canada:

  • CAN Sail instructor programs that qualify you to teach sailing at various levels
  • Learn-to-race instructor certification programs that allow you to instruct racers
  • Evaluator programs designed for people who want to coach a racing team

Cruising certifications

Once sailors master the basics of dinghy sailing, they can further the certification process in a number of different cruising categories.

Cruising is the art of captaining sailboats on extended trips on the open water, from a couple of days offshore to around-the-world trips.

Cruising certifications include the following:

  • Basic Cruising Instructor
  • Offshore Keelboat Instructor
  • Senior Cruising Evaluator Instructor and other more advanced evaluator programs

With two coasts and countless lakes and bays, Canada offers many sailing opportunities for all ages. If you’re interested in taking up the sport, a good place to start is by familiarizing yourself with Canada’s established standards for official certification.

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