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Adult Sailing Classes

      Summer 2024 NEWS

Registration is Open!

Please click for 2024 info on . .

Youth Sailing

After-School Sailing

Adult Lessons

Private Lessons & Outings


Important COVID Information


For the last four seasons, we have worked hard, with great cooperation from our families, to provide a safe and enjoyable experience for all of our kids and staff as well. 

For 2024 we have our COVID policies as follows:

Mask wearing will now be optional.  Students may wear masks on keelboats or on land if desired.

Please click here to see our full 2024 COVID rules and procedures.

Adult sailing with LWSA on Lake Winnipesaukee

What We Do:

For Adults (ages 16+), we offer a hands-on

group classes for beginner and intermediate

adults. This is a great way to try out sailing

and master essential skills. Whether you are

just interested in trying sailing for the first

time, giving the gift of sailing lessons to a

family member, or want to get back into

sailing after many years away from the helm,

LWSA can help you meet your goals. Many of

our adult group participants are new boat

owners of small sailboats and find this the

perfect way to safely gain confidence. Others

want to brush up on skills before getting involved

in the yacht racing scene on Lake WInnipesaukee.

2024 Schedule

Scroll down to see the this year's courses and schedule. Useful in planning your summer!

Please note that all dates, classes, and prices are subject to change. Registration opens April 1st.  Contact us with any questions!  There are no multi course discounts for adult classes.


Adult Course Descriptions


501: Adult Learn-to-Sail Level One

Ages 16+ ; Four 3-hour classes; Fee: $430
click for Schedule or click to Register

This course is for adults with little or no sailing experience. It will be taught in small groups in a stable and comfortable 26-foot J/80 and/or a 23-foot Sonar keelboat. The emphasis of this hands on course will be on safety and the basics of sailboat handling such as rigging and derigging, basic sailing knots, steering, upwind and downwind sailing, and sail handling. Additional material that may be covered includes person overboard procedure, managing safely in strong winds, boating navigation markers, boating right of way rules. 


By the end of this course the goal is to have students familiar with basic skills and knowledge of sailing, and to be comfortable carrying out those skills in light and moderate wind conditions with some assistance from an instructor. Please contact us to discuss your specific needs and goals. 

Please contact us to discuss your specific needs and goals. 

502: Adult Learn-to-Sail Level Two

Ages 16+ ; Four 3-hour classes; Fee: $430
click for Schedule or click to Register

The purpose of this course is to solidify and expand on material and skills taught in the 501 Course, it is ideal for those who only have some previous sailing experience requiring a refresher course before moving on to more advanced skills or for those who have previously taken the 501 Course but are not yet fully confident with the material. It will be taught in small groups in a stable and comfortable 23-foot Sonar keelboat and a 26-foot J/80. Prior to beginning this course students should have some familiarity with the basics of sailing including steering with a tiller and rudder, points of sail and sail trim, and tacking and gybing. Skills that this course covers that are generally not taught in the 501 Course include anchoring, mooring, and motor operation. 


By the end of this course the goal is to have students comfortable with all the basic skills and knowledge of sailing, and to be comfortable carrying out those skills in most wind conditions with little or no assistance from an instructor. Please contact us to discuss your specific needs and goals. 

Please contact us to discuss your specific needs and goals.

503: Adult Learn-to-Sail Level Three

Ages 16+ ; Four 3-hour classes; Fee: $430
click for Schedule or click to Register

This course is for adults with previous sailing experience who are confident and comfortable performing all basic sailing procedures independently and are looking to expand their knowledge and skills. Prior to beginning this course students should be able to confidently rig and derig a sailboat, confidently steer with a tiller and rudder, correctly trim their sails, and carry out tacks and gybes in most wind conditions. If you would like to register for this course, but have not previously taken lessons at LWSA, please reach out to our Adult Lesson Coordinator, Toby Wilkinson ( to discuss your previous sailing experience and if this course will be right for you. Topics covered include sail shape, controls, and tuning, symmetric and asymmetric spinnaker handling, anchoring and mooring under power. Please contact us to discuss your specific needs and goals.


By the end of this course the goal is to have students capable of handling a sailboat completely independently in most wind conditions and to introduce them to more advanced skills that may be used as they venture further into the sailing world whether that be purchasing and sailing their own boat, or trying out racing. 

LWSA Dave Adams Memorial Sailing Center on Smith Cove Gilford
Anchor 1

Registration OPENS on April 1, 2024

Adult Schedule

Adult Classes Schedule - 2024



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All Sessions  -  $430

Read Ahead Lessons

Read Ahead Lessons

Welcome, this material will be helpful to review before your lesson, it is not mandatory to read and understand it all before the first lesson.

Safety: (What If my boat flips or I fall out?)

  • Capsizing in a small boat is very easily avoidable but if it does happen It’s ok, It’s common and you have nothing to worry about if you follow these steps. Righting a capsized boat is a relatively straightforward process and is very clearly explained in these two videos.​​

  • Non-Capsizers: Good news! If you plan to sail a boat with a “keel” such as an O’Day Day Sailor, or nearly any boat longer than 15 feet you’re in luck! These boats all have a weighted keel which means no matter how windy it is they will never tip over. If you need a trailer to take your boat out of the water or if it doesn’t flip over when you and your friend both stand on one side of the boat, then there’s a good chance your boat has a keel.

    • But first! not all boats can capsize. In fact, Nearly all boats longer than 15ft  will never capsize. Here is how you can tell.


  • Capsizers: Small boats such as sunfish, 420s, and lasers are designed to be capsized and safely righted. If you have a buddy use the (scoop method) to help yourself and your buddy to get back into the water.

    •  If you are sailing a small boat without a buddy, be sure that you are capable of getting back into the boat by yourself in deep water. If you cannot get back into your boat without help it is probably not a good idea to go sailing alone on windy days. (Note: Any time you go sailing with or without a buddy it is a good idea to have with you life jackets, a whistle, and a phone or radio to communicate with shore in case of an emergency. (VHF radio channel 16 to hail Marine Patrol in an Emergency)

Parts Of The Boat

  • You may want to reference this image as boat terminology will be referenced constantly throughout these lessons.

Parts of Boat.gif

The Basics: (How the heck do I get started?)

Here we will cover the fundamentals of finding wind direction, and getting the boat moving for the first time.

Identifying Wind Direction

  • The wind is always present and always changing. Sailboats are very sensitive to changes in wind direction so it’s important to always be alert.

  • Why Wind Direction: The wind is your engine so it’s important to be aware of where the wind is coming from at all times. Until you are comfortable there are several ways you can check.

  • Flags on shore, Wind arrow on top of the mast, small ripples on the water, a piece of yarn tied to the boat shroud, moored boats always point into the wind.

Points of Sail

  • Now that you know where the wind is coming from you’ll need to know at what angle your boat can and can’t sail. You’ll also need to know what position your sails should be at (in or out) in order to move most effectively. 

  • Tip: to ensure your sail trim is correct you can let your sail out until it flaps and then start pulling it back in. The moment it stops flapping you have perfect sail trim.

  • Tip: any time you move your tiller you also need to move your sail.

Points of Sail.jpg

Intermediate Skills: (We're starting to get the hang of this)

Now that we've covered the basic material, you are more than ready for your first lesson! This intermediate section is the next step once you've tested the basics on the water. You will get the most out of this section if you have already spent time in a boat and you understand the basics of sail trim and wind direction.

Tacking Upwind

  • The only direction you can’t sail is directly into the wind. So how do we get there? We have to zig zag back and forth on a ‘close hauled’ point of sail.

  • Why tack: When zig zagging up wind your sail will automatically swing across to the down wind sides of the boat (tack).  You’ll want to know how to safely do this maneuver to get upwind efficiently.

Jibing/Gybing Downwind

  • Jibing is the opposite of a tack where the boom swings across the boat as the stern crosses through the wind.

  • Why Jibe: The swing of the boom of a jibe can be fast and sometimes dangerous. It is important to know when it will happen and how to do it safely.

How to Stop Your Boat ‘Safety Position’

  • Why Safety Position: This is a very simple yet important thing to know. Boats don’t have brakes so you need to know how to slow down and stop your boat in a controlled way. Otherwise, your boat may spin around and gybe without warning.

  • Tip: To stop your boat all you do is

  • 1: Let go of your sail

  • 2: point your tiller toward your sail the sail flaps.

Sailing Up To A Mooring

Approaching to a Dock or Mooring

  • Why mooring under sail: One of the most important skills for a boat owner is getting on and off your morning or dock gracefully. What happens when you’re motor dies or you run out of gas, you’ll want to safely make it to your dock or mooring.

  • Tip: When you reach your mooring barely moving, drifting up wind, with your sails flapping (make sure you have enough speed though).

Sailing Up To A Dock

Anchoring Under Sail Power


  • Under motor, anchoring is much like a motorboat. But under sail power it’s a bit harder to go in reverse.

  • Why Anchor: For lunch.

Anchoring Under Motor Power

Advanced Boat Handling: (Mastering the art of sailing)

Up to this point, we've covered the necessary skills to safely sail a boat. Hooray! The mastery of these skills is critical for being a responsible boater. We will now dive into more advanced boat handling skills that will help springboard us into more exciting areas such as racing, navigation, and a variety of other advanced topics. 

Understanding Tell Tales

Using Tell Tales

  • These are small pieces of yarn attached to your jip to help you know if you are sailing perfectly as far upwind as possible.

  • Why tell tales: These are important because sailing upwind is not very fast so you want to make sure you are pointing as high into the wind as you can. Even if you were to point 15 degrees too low or too high could take you 2-3 times as long to get to your destination.

Tell Tales When You Are Too Low or Too High

Under Sail

Person Overboard

  • This is a very similar technique as approaching a mooring

  • Why Person Overboard: Safely recovering a sailor in the water is an extremely important safety procedure.

Under Motor


A sailor is only as good as their knots

This called a ‘stopper knot’ and should be tied at the end of all of your lines (job sheets, halyards, etc.) to prevent them from slipping through.

Eight Knot

Square Knot

This knot is for tying the ends of two lines together.


The Bowline is for making a loop that can be tied around anything (anchor, bow line, sail). This is a great knot because it is very strong and very easy to untie.

The cleat hitch is what you use anywhere you use a cleat, such as on a dock.

Cleat Hitch

I'm a Frayed Knot.png

Coming soon advanced moduled on racing, advanced seamanship, and the art of boat maintenance.

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