Summer Programs for Kids Ready to Set Sail

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Kids at the Newport Sea Base are ready for some summer fun. Photo by Jeremy Yamaguchi

It’s the first week of June, and most of the local yacht club sailing programs are busy gearing up for their summer racing programs.  With the kick-off of the summer sailing season just a few weeks away, there are still good options available for beginners to get introduced to the basics of sailing.

Most of the local yacht club sailing programs are heavily focused on racing.  While each yacht club program offers some introductory classes, it’s not necessary to join a yacht club and buy a boat just to see if you like the sport.

Newport Beach is blessed to have some of the most accomplished junior sailors in the country, but they all got their start by learning the basics, either in local junior sailing programs and/or community sailing programs.  Before committing to buying a boat or joining a local yacht club, here are four good, inexpensive options to get your family out on the water this summer.

Orange Coast College School of Sailing and Seamanship (both kid and adult sailing programs) – OCC’s School of Sailing and Seamanship is arguably among the largest and most comprehensive sailing programs in the US.  They offer everything from basic beginning sailing to advanced offshore racing, and a lot more.  There are even classes focused on professional certifications (e.g. 100-ton commercial licenses), diesel engine maintenance and celestial navigation.  At the same time, they also offer beginning and intermediate sailing course in Lido 14s for sailors as young as 7 years old.  For more information contact [email protected] or 949-645-9412.

Newport Sea Base (kids, 6-18) – Next door to OCC’s Sailing Base is the Newport Sea Base.  While the Sea Base is affiliated with Boy Scouts of America, their sailing and boating programs and classes are open to anyone.  They offer a wide range of sailing and boating classes primarily geared toward boys and girls ages of 7 to 17.  While there are elementary sailing programs, they also offer a wide variety of youth-oriented boating activities ranging from kayaks and canoes to motor boating.  For more information contact 949-642-5031 or

City of Newport Beach (kids 6-16) – The city, in conjunction with UCI, offers several good introductory sailing classes at the 18th Street bay beach.  Sailors can start as young as 6 years old for the “Parent and Me Sailing Camp,” or for the combined “Tennis and Boating Camp.” There are also two week-long courses in August for teenagers that let them sail afternoons in Sabots and Lido 14s, or take out kayaks and stand-up paddleboards.  For more information about dates and times, pick up a copy of the Newport Navigator or look for “Recreation Classes” on the  Or you can contact the Recreation and Senior Services Department at 949-644-3151.

Balboa Island Yacht Club (kids 4-16) – This popular junior program has traditionally been run each summer primarily by kids who either live on Balboa Island or visit for the summer.  Unlike other programs, BIYC is old-school – you won’t find websites or advertisements for this program. BIYC sign-ups are typically held at the Beek Community Center near the Balboa Island Ferry (sign-ups are usually the first Friday after school gets out).  In addition to beginning sailing classes, BIYC also runs weekly programs in swimming, paddle boarding and rowing.  BIYC can be a great starting point for young boaters, particularly for families with younger kids who may just want to start by dipping their toes into the bay.



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