Getting started in sailing... 

... can be an intimidating prospect.  Unless you have sailed before, the sport probably seems somewhat mysterious.  Perhaps you have seen images of the America’s Cup races on the news.  The large boats, rich owners, and professional teams make the sport seem out of reach to the normal person. 

However, the Chicago T-10 fleet is relatively inexpensive, especially if you are a crew member and not the owner.  Crews are made up of people just like you and, in fact, class rules restrict professional sailors.  Boats are frequently looking for crew members that are enthusiastic and willing to learn, regardless of experience level.   Plus, you don’t have to be a millionaire to own a T-10.  Many of the owners in our fleet started out as crew members and after a few years, decided to purchase a boat of their own.

Why Sail?  There are many reasons for a person to be interested in sailing.  The primary reason most people sail is to have fun.  Along with having fun, you meet many new people.  Sailing can be both mentally and physically challenging.  And the knowledge to be gained is limitless. 

Getting Started

There are several ways to start sailing on a T-10.  One way is to contact us.  Another is to look at the Fleet Page and contact one of the boat owners via the contact form.  The local yacht clubs listed below also offer classes for people interested in learning to sail.  You can also post your name and number on a bulletin board at any of the local Yacht Clubs.  Finally, you can show up at any of the Chicago area yacht clubs for a Wednesday Night “Beer Can” Race.  To guarantee a ride, bring a six-pack of beer (cans, not bottles) and ask someone setting up one of the boats if they need crew.

Chicago Yacht Club

400 East Monroe St. 
Chicago, IL 60603

300 West Belmont Ave. 
Chicago, IL 60657

Sailing Class: Crew U

Columbia Yacht Club

111 N. Lake Shore Dr
Chicago, IL 60601

Sailing Class: Skip Jacks

Corinthian Yacht Club

601 W. Montrose Dr
Chicago, IL 60613

Sailing Class: Crew School

What to Wear and Bring

Because of the varying weather conditions found in Chicago, your clothing should depend on the time of year.  In the spring, when the weather and water are a bit chilly, long underwear and fleece are often required.  If you don’t have fleece pants, sweat pants are better than jeans because they allow for easier movement.  Dress in layers and try to wear a base layer that will whisk moisture away from your skin.  Polypropylene, capeline and coolmax work well.  Cotton tends to absorb moisture and keep you wet.  Frequently, the cloths worn under a sailor’s foul weather gear are similar to what a skier would wear under their parka and snow pants.  When the weatherman says cooler by the lake, it probably means it will feel 20 degrees colder on the water. 

As the weather and water warm up, a pair of shorts and T-Shirt should suffice.  No matter how warm the temperature, it is always a good idea to bring a sweatshirt or fleece top.  Although you don’t have to go out and buy a pair of shoes made specifically for sailing, your shoes should have white or non-marking soles.

Depending on how interested you are and how much you are willing to spend, it is also useful to have a pair of sailing gloves and a set of foul weather gear.  If you don’t want to spend the money on foul weather gear, any waterproof parka and pants should do.  Some boats also will have an extra set of foul weather gear on board.  (Possibly held together with duct tape.)


Other items that might be useful while sailing

  • Water (don’t bring any containers made of glass)
  • Hat (with hat clip)
  • Sunblock
  • Sunglasses (with Croakies)
  • Backpack or Duffle Bag
  • For weekend races, some boats require you to bring your own lunch.  It is best to contact the skipper of the individual boat to determine if this is necessary.

Reasons to Sail

  • Fun
  • Fitness
  • Make Friends – sailing is a social sport.  You work together with the crew of the boat as a team.
  • Challenge
  • Mentally Stimulating

Learning To Crew

Finding A Boat

  • Contact Fleet Captain
  • Show up for Wednesday Night beer can races
  • Put your name on bulletin boards at one of the yacht clubs
  • From one of the above Crewing Classes 
  • Connect with Crew Finder