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2018 CAYSP Classes

Welcome to the Camden Area Youth Seamanship Program!

Thank you for considering us as the place where your child will gain a solid foundation in boating skills.

Sailing classes have been an important part of the Camden Yacht Club since 1951. We have grown from 5 turnabouts and one class per day to a fleet of 45 boats (Optimists, 420s and/or Mercuries) and 8 different sailing/boating class levels.

CAYSP is a non-profit organization, based out of the beautiful facilities of the Camden Yacht Club. We are committed to making boating in Camden Harbor accessible to any child age 5 and older.

© Alison Langley Photography

Harbor Adventures (Age 5)

This is a welcome to our CAYSP community class! It is an explorative class in which students will spend time getting to know the Camden Yacht Club, Camden Harbor, and all of its “special” places and activities, as well as the fun-loving staff. Emphasis will be on safety, making connections with peers and our community, and time spent exploring our harbor.

Please limit your child to one week at Harbor Adventures. You are welcome to sign up for more weeks and will be put on a wait list in order of signing up. Please pay for one week ONLY even if you are on a wait list for more weeks.


Rowing (Ages 6–7)

Taught primarily in rowing dinghies, students will learn rowing, basic seamanship, knot tying, boat handling, and safety. Rowers will develop confidence on and around the water, and as always, there will be a strong emphasis on fun. Prepares students for Beginning Sailing, but is not a prerequisite. Please limit your child to two weeks of rowing for the 2018 season. If you have any questions or concerns about this, please email


Beginning Sailing (Ages 8–11)

Taught in Optimists and Mercurys, this class is an introduction to basic sailing skills. It is a class for the beginning sailor or one who wants to build confidence on the water. In addition to the basics of sailing, students will learn rigging, boat handling and knot tying. Weather permitting, a typical day includes a land-based demonstration or game followed by about two hours on the water.


Adventure Sailing (Ages 13 & Up)

Adventure Sailing is a new offering for the 2017 season. This is a class for “graduated” Opti sailors who do not want to race. Depending on the size of the sailor, we will use Optis, 420s, paddle boards, and/or other one-design boats. We will continue the learning and practice in seamanship skills, points of sail, weather awareness, anchoring, moving within Camden Harbor safely, rowing, power boat handling, and wind speed and direction changes. The students will also be introduced to the 420, including rigging/derigging, understanding the fine adjustments to the rig such as Cunninghham, boombvang, centerboard, outhaul, spinnaker, and trapeze skills. Adventures into the bay will be encouraged, weather depending. There may be times when the day is extended due to traveling to another club, or setting the goal to make a destination up or down the coast. If we travel, parent involvement is expected. 


Ocean Explorers (Ages 8–12)

Join Jen Conover and Heather Wyman for maritime lessons and projects. These may include practicing navigation, gaining an understanding of maritime weather and its influences on boating, additional seamanship skills, setting and hauling lobster traps, understanding island life, and marine craft projects. Bring a lifejacket and a backpack with your lunch, plenty of snacks, water, and a change of clothes. 


Green Fleet Racing (Introduction to Racing) (Ages 10 & Up)

Students who are capable of sailing their own Optimist and have a firm grasp of basic boat handling skills are encouraged to enroll in this introductory level racing class. It will stress friendly competition and moving your boat well through racing, drills, and demonstrations. At the coach’s discretion and based on skill level and confidence, students may be invited to participate in day-long regattas in the entry-level “green fleet” a prerequisite to racing on the Optimist Race Team. Any traveling will require parental involvement. In addition, every Wednesday will be Wednesday Race Day. For the most part these races will be held in Camden Harbor. There may be times when we need to extend the day because of a regatta opportunity. Private Optimists are welcome.


Optimist Race Team (Ages 11 & Up)

This is a competitive sailing team. Emphasis is on safety and moving an optimist fast and well through the water. Students will single-hand Optimists on a daily basis, developing a strong foundation by practicing more difficult drills, tactics, and seamanship along with an understanding of the racing Rules of Sailing. This class will sail in most weather, including heavier wind days. It is a positive, team-oriented environment. In addition, every Wednesday will be Wednesday Race Day. For the most part these races will be held in Camden Harbor. There may be times when we need to extend the day because of a regatta opportunity. Attendance of regattas such as the Opti Maine States and US Sailing regional Junior Olympic event are strongly encouraged. Sailors will need to be signed up for the same week as any regatta they hope to attend. Again, parental involvement is mandatory for regattas. Private Optimists welcome.


420 Race Team (Ages 13 & Up)

This is the highest-level youth sailing class offered through CAYSP. Prerequisites in most cases include Master of Seamanship, Optimist Race Team and the Basic 420 Sailing Class. Sailors must have previous 420 sailing experience and feel VERY confident with boat handling skills in moderate to heavy wind. Negotiating a crowded start line, maneuvering your boat in tight spaces, fine-tuning your boat speed using boomvang, Cunningham, centerboard and outhaul adjustments, trapeze and spinnaker work, sailing with endurance through varying weather conditions, understanding the details of the race rules will all be an integral part of this class. Lasers and 420s will be used regularly. Equipment maintenance will also be a part of the class. Regattas, both in state and New England, are options. Sailors, instructors and the program director will decide upon who will attend these races. Parental involvement with these regattas is expected.


Forms to Download

Coming Soon: 2018 Registration Forms