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IJS Nautical Skills and Sailing Program


Welcome to the IJS program! We offer sailing lessons to all youth ages 8 to 16. We are located at Ipswich Bay Yacht Club and sail in beautiful Plum Island Sound.

Ipswich Junior Sailing offers students ages 8 to 16 an introductory experience in the nautical skills associated with sailing a small boat safely. Through this experience, sailors will have the opportunity to learn the skills and gain the knowledge needed to build confidence in their ability to sail a small boat through the water. The IJS sailing program is primarily designed to provide an integrated experience both on water and land. As such, each session will offer engaging shore-and water-based instruction and hands-on activities that bring life to a topic related to small boat seamanship and safety. These topics may include tying knots, techniques for small boat handling, understanding tides and tidal current, weather for the sailor, interpretation and use of the nautical chart, the physics of sailing and rules of the road for boating safety.

Coastal Waters
In addition to developing safe and sound boating skills, the IJS program seeks to inspire awareness and appreciation of the local marine environment. Using the unique natural history of the estuaries and barrier beaches that define Ipswich Harbor, IJS instructors want to inspire students to become environmental stewards and socially responsible individuals.

Sailor Groups
Students enrolled in the program are organized into one of four groups depending on their age and experience. Beginner Optis is for younger, new sailors, while Advanced Optis is for younger sailors who have mastered Beginner Opti skills. Older, more experienced sailors generally sail in 420s and are organized into Beginner 420 and Advanced 420 groups as appropriate. Race training and opportunity to race in local area regattas is offered to advanced sailors. The size of each group varies depending on enrollment numbers and student profile but in general total Opti numbers can run from 10-15 sailors and 420 sailors can number about 10-12 on any given week. Each group will have one lead senior instructor and one to two junior instructors or apprentice instructors. Instructors will remain with their group during the program and help them learn the skills and concepts. Students can expect to have a thoughtful mix of shoreside instruction and on the water experience throughout the course.

Curriculum and Instructional Resources
Among the many resources that our US Sailing certified Senior Instructors will use to offer a rigorous and engaging program for all ages are materials developed by US Sailing. They are a mainstay of the IJS instruction. In addition, each sailor will receive an evaluation of their progress at the end of their session.

Ipswich Junior Sailing, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization and admits students of any race, color, religion, or national origin. Scholarships are also available.

Additional Details

Session 1 – Week 1 & 2:  Monday, June 19 to Thursday, June 29 (Half Days)

Session 2 – Week 3 & 4:  Monday July 3 to Thursday July 13 Half Days, (no classes Tuesday 4th due to the Holiday, makeup day Friday, July 7)

Session 3 – Week 5:  Monday, July 17 to Thursday, July 20 (Full Days) – Race Prep Week

Note: Week of July 24 is Marblehead Race Week – No IJS classes

Session 4 – Week 6:  Monday, July 31 to Thursday, August 3 (Full Days)

  NOTE: SESSION 4 IS FULL.  Submit an application to get on WAITING LIST

Session 5 – Week 7 & 8:   Monday, August 7 to Thursday, August 17 (Half Days)

The program fee is $560 per session.  An early bird discounted price of $530 per session is available before March 1.

We will also offer a discounted tuition of $530 per session for multiple sessions registered. If you register your sailor for two or more sessions, the cost of each session will be $530, including your first session. (This discount only applies to multiple registrations per sailor and cannot be applied to siblings. The early bird discount and multi-session discount cannot be combined.)

Clubspot will accept all major credit card payments and ACH transfers. There will be a processing fee of 2.9% for credit card payments added to your check out. There will be no processing fee for ACH transfers. IJS will no longer be accepting checks for sailor registration.

Full payment and a signed waiver are required with each application. Refunds are not honored, and all payments are final.

All on the water activities are patrolled by 5 safety boats operated by a US Sailing Certified Instructor and apprentices. Our fleet includes of a 17’ Bristol Skiff, a 16’ Carolina Skiff and three inflatable boats (16′  Ribcraft, 16′ Zodiac, and 14′ Zodiac)


The Ipswich Bay Harbormaster’s Boat patrols the area.

Class assignments will be made according to skill level, age, and preference; we appreciate that friends make it fun and make every effort to keep friends together.  If there are more applicants than spaces for a particular class, preference will be given to the applicant whose application is received first. We will schedule siblings in the same time slot upon request. We reserve the right to change the schedule based on the number of applicants at each of the skill levels.

Refunds are not honored, and all payments are final.

Sailors who have previously participated on the Race Team, in Opti or 420s, or sailors who have completed three classes in that boat are invited to apply for the IJS RACE TEAM. New applicants will be evaluated based on class performance and instructor recommendations. Participation on the team is limited by the number of spots available; returning racers have priority if they signed-up by April 15.

There is a participation fee of $435 for the Race Team members who attend Marblehead Junior Race Week and parent participation is required.

IJS Race Team members can:

• Practice Monday through Thursday afternoons and Friday all day when no regattas are scheduled

• Race in local regattas (approx. 4 Fridays)

Essex Bay Yacht Club Mudflat Regatta (420s only) TBD

Sandy Bay Yacht Club, Linda Wieditz Memorial Opti Regatta

IJS Greenhead – (420s and Optis)

Annisquam YC Squam Day – (420s and Optis)

Marblehead Junior Race Week – (420s and Optis) Monday thru Wednesday

On Friday mornings there will be supervised Free Sail open to all IJS sailors who have completed at least one week in the current season from 9:15 am to 12:15 pm. Instructors and staff will be present for safety and direction; however no instructed learning will be delivered.

On some Fridays we will compete in local regattas with other youth sailing programs in the Cape Ann area. This may affect the boats available for free sail. Sailors planning to attend the Friday Free Sail must sign up in advance. Signup email will be sent out according to availability.

Schedule for Fridays To Be Determined closer to the start of the season.

Competition Day will be held on Friday, August 11. At this event, sailors are welcome back to compete in various activities. Awards are given for:

Robert W. McKinley Award –  Outstanding Young Sailor

Most Improved Sailor  –  Various Racing Awards

Lawn Games

And a variety of awards for race team, regatta participants, and lawn/dock game participants

Please Be On Time. You should plan to drop off your sailor at the Ipswich Bay Yacht Club (Quay Rd., Ipswich, MA 01938) 5-10 minutes prior to the start of class. We will begin promptly at 9:15 AM for morning and full day classes and 1:15 PM for afternoon classes.

Pickup after class is at 12:15 PM for morning-only sessions and 4:15 PM for afternoon and full-day sessions.

On the first day of class, your sailor should be prepared to get wet! There is a swim check (this is NOT a swim test). Sailors will be asked to jump off the sailing dock, put on their life jacket, and swim along the dock a short distance. The purpose of this drill is to ensure each sailor has a comfort level in the salt water.

Is there class when it Rains?
Yes. Class will be held rain or shine. In the event of thunderstorms, IJS runs an integrated onshore and offshore nautical skills program. When unable to sail due to unsafe waters or weather, we will run our onshore nautical program. Activities, games and races are planned, age appropriate and designed to be fun, engaging and teach sailors concepts including Simple Mechanics of Boats, Buoyancy & Flotation, Chart & Map Reading, Knot Tying, & Environmental Impact. If cancellation is deemed necessary, you will be notified (via email) before 8 am that day of class (or before if possible).

Ipswich Junior Sailing (IJS) is a separate organization from Ipswich Bay Yacht Club.

We appreciate that the IBYC shares its property with IJS and we respect the IBYC rules:

  • Use of the Yacht Club House and Waterfront is limited to IBYC members and their guests; IJS parking should be at the top of the lot (near the road).
  • In bad weather, students gather under the tents and store their belongings NEATLY in plastic tubs found under the tree.
  • Access to the clubhouse bathrooms is controlled by IJS staff
  • Bikes should be stored in the bike rack.
  • We strive to be respectful of the club’s property and the IBYC members.

PACKING LIST!  Don’t forget to bring these items!!

  1. PFD (Life Jacket)–a properly fitted, US Coast Guard approved PFD jacket style is recommended. If you DO NOT have your PFD you CANNOT SAIL!
  2. Closed Toe Shoes–shoes (that will get wet) that protect toes from cleats and such. (Crocs, Keens, etc)
  3. Sunscreen – SPF 15 or greater applied at home before class.
  4. Hat and Sunglasses – all glasses should have keepers to avoid being lost overboard.
  5. Sailing Clothes – Sailing is a water sport – expect to get wet!! In warm weather a swimsuit with a tee shirt and shorts is fine. In cool, rainy or windy weather, a windbreaker or light rain jacket is needed; light rain pants can be great too. Synthetic shirts, shorts, and warm layers are also helpful – avoid cotton.
  6. Lunch – (Full Day Sailors Only) Bring a lunch to enjoy between sessions on the water. Please be mindful of typical allergens.
  7. Water, Snack, Towel, Change of Clothes and Insect Repellent for days when the bugs are bad. A snack, a drink, towel and clothes to have after sailing. Pack plenty of extra water; it gets hot!
  8. Small Duffel or Backpack – To keep all your stuff together. Plastic bins are provided to hold student packs and duffels on shore. Please don’t bring money or valuables.
  9. Great Attitude – Bring your good behavior, sense of humor and adventure, and a willingness to learn!

Friday mornings (9:15-12:15) are free sails. What is “Free Sail”?

All sailors who have completed one class session are eligible to sail on Friday mornings. First priority is given to sailors currently in classes for that week. Instructors are there to assist in rigging and supervision during the sail; however there will be no chalk talk lessons. Sailors just get an extra opportunity to sail and have fun! Free Sails are not every Friday morning. You need to check with Instructors that week to confirm and reserve a spot.

Sign Up in 2023

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