Go Sailing!

Our mission at CLSA is to make sailing affordable and accessible. A family membership is less than $100 per year and members can sail club-owned boats for free. There is no application process or application fee. Boat ownership is not required and we even provide the life jackets. Our education and sailing coordinators make it convenient and easy for members to go sailing. Simply sign up and show up to get on a sailboat. We're always looking for crew! You'll meet fun people just like you.

Learn to Sail

Learn to Sail - US Sailing/Flying Scot

Join CLSA today and choose the option to schedule a private or family lesson for only $50 (plus membership if not a member)! You'll learn to sail with a US Sailing Certified Instructor aboard a comfortable and stable 19-foot Flying Scot (we'll provide the boat). We offer lessons and free rigging clinics every week all season long. Successful completion of US Sailing/Flying Scot Learn to Sail program at CLSA will qualify you to skipper and borrow a Flying Scot to sail during Casual Wednesdays and CLSA weekend sailing events when a safety boat is present. The Flying Scot is a 19-foot sailboat and typically raced with 2-3 sailors and sailed casually with 2-4 sailors. More than 20 CLSA Members own a Flying Scot. Expand this section by clicking on the arrow to the right to learn more.

The US Sailing/Flying Scot learn to sail program is typically completed in six sessions at Clinton Lake. For a limited time, CLSA is only charging for the First Sail/Introductory Lesson. If you take advantage of this opportunity now, you can learn to sail for $50.

Step 1. Watch Learn to Sail in 60 Minutes

  • Optional but recommended textbook US Sailing Learn to Sail Right - Beginner - order here ($17.95).

  • Free YouTube video - click here to watch.

  • Must be a CLSA member to continue. Click here to join if you haven't already.

Step 2. First Sail ($50)

  • 2-hour introductory lesson with a US Sailing Certified Instructor.

  • Offered most Wednesdays and Saturdays - click here to schedule. CLSA will send you a PayPal invoice after you schedule your session.

  • This is a private lesson or you can invite up to 2 other family members.

Step 3. Rigging Clinics (Free)

  • Learn rigging from Flying Scot Fleet Captain Rod Bussell.

  • Must attend 2 rigging clinics before taking your next sailing lesson.

  • Must provide your own vehicle with hitch and 1 7/8" ball.

  • Watch Rigging Flying Scot video before your first clinic.

  • Must be proficient at tying a cleat hitch, bowline, and figure 8 stopper knot before continuing to the on-the-water lessons.

  • Uncover, rig sails, connect to trailer, launch boat at ramp, secure boat with cleat hitch, hoist sails, lower sails, roll sails, load boat on trailer, cover and secure boat.

  • Offered most Wednesdays at 2:30pm and Saturdays at 9:30am - click here to schedule.

Step 4. On-the-Water Lessons (Free - Limited Time Offer)

  • Must bring your own VHF radio, sailing gloves and watch.

  • US Sailing Certified Instructor provides on-board instruction.

  • Group lesson format with 2 candidates per boat.

  • Offered most Wednesdays and Saturdays - click here to schedule.

Step 5. Qualification Assessment/US Sailing Certification Test (Free)

  • IL Boater Safety Card Required ($34.95)

  • 2 candidates will sail without instructor with a safety boat following close-by.

  • Demonstrate the ability to launch and sail proficiently without instructor guidance.

  • Recover from capsize using scoop method.

  • US Sailing Little Red Book signed by instructor upon passing. Mail in your red book to US Sailing and receive your certification.

Encouraged: Fleet 135/US Sailing Membership

  • Flying Scot instructors and fleet coordinators volunteer their time and use of their private sailboats to help grow our club and support the sport of sailing. If you value what we do, we ask that you support organizations that are important to us.

  • Flying Scot Sailing Association ($35). Join as Sustaining Member and make sure you tell them you're part of Fleet 135. Join FSSA and you'll become member of Fleet 135 and get priority placement in Flying Scots.

  • US Sailing ($65 Ind/$115 Fam). Your membership actively helps get new sailors on the water and supports sport of sailing.

Practice: Flying Scot Casual Wednesdays/Thistle Thursdays

  • Flying Scot Casual Racing offered every Wednesday with a safety boat on station. Boats available to borrow. Coordinated crew placement will return in 2021 (currently suspended due to Covid-19).

  • Thistle Thursdays offers casual racing and crew opportunities every Thursday on a high performance race boat.

  • Both Wednesday and Thursday feature a casual racing format.

Intermediate Training: Crew Days

  • Select Saturdays

  • 9:30am Rigging and Tuning Clinic for Flying Scot

  • 11:30am Boat Handling Clinic (featured topics include spinnaker, mark soundings, etc).

  • Practice/Casual Racing in the afternoon.

Optional Race Training: Performance Race Weekend "Top Gun"

  • Learn tactics and strategy from CLSA's best racers! Instructors include Mark Taylor, former Lightning World Champion, with Ryan Malmgren and Stacey Rieu, owners of Mad Sails and winners of countless regional regattas.

  • $195/boat. 2020 Top Gun sold out in 24 hours.

  • Last weekend in August.

  • Limited to 10 Flying Scots - 9 short races scheduled

  • Special Guest Instructor in 2021: Tyler and Carrie Andrews from Flying Scot Inc. Parts truck will be on site and free delivery for anyone who orders a new Flying Scot. Tyler and Carrie finished 2nd at the FSSA North American Championships two years in a row.

Winter Classroom Learning: Mid Illini Sail & Power Squadron/America's Boating Club

These classes are not offered through CLSA but highly recommended if your goal is to sail larger sailboats with motors. This organization sponsors a flotilla trip (bareboat charter) to the British Virgin Islands every two years - next trip March 2023. Classes are offered in Bloomington, IL.

  1. Sail - https://americasboatingclub.org/courses/sail (Start Date TBD).

  2. Marine Navigation (formerly Piloting) - https://americasboatingclub.org/courses/piloting (Starts October 12th).

  3. Marine Electrical Systems - https://americasboatingclub.org/courses/marine-electrical-systems (Start Date TBD).

Learn to Sail - Small Boats

Our next available Introduction to Sailing class will be offered spring/summer of 2021. Our 2020 classes sold out fast. If you join today, we'll waive your 2021 membership dues and you'll be pre registered for the 2021 small boat class. The class includes 2 days of classroom and 4 days of on-the-water practice. The on-the-water training will be on Lasers, a single-person boat.

Tuition for the class is $195 (plus membership if not a member). Our class sessions will be held in the CLSA pavilion from 6:00-8:00 pm on Monday & Tuesday evenings over 3 weeks. This class counts toward certification to use the club Small Boats (see "Rent a Boat" below).

Youth Sailing Classes are unfortunately cancelled for 2020. They are normally offered up to twice a year in the summer. Students learn to sail or advance their skills in Optimist prams, Sunfish, or Lasers, depending on age and preference. Future classes will be posted on the calendar. If you are interested in future opportunities or have special requests, contact clintonlakesailing@gmail.com.

Rent a Boat (Free!)

Go sailing whenever you want! CLSA owns and maintains a fleet of small sailboats, including Prams, Lasers, Sunfish, Banshees, and a Ray Green Rascal. These boats are free to use for current, qualified CLSA members. Read the requirements and rules below and request a qualification assessment when you are ready.

Certification & Boat Rules

CLSA Members ages 12 and older can become certified to use the CLSA Fleet boat by completing the following steps:

  • New sailors must complete a structured course that has been approved by the Commodore to meet minimum requirements (Introduction to Sailing, Lessons, ASA courses, etc).

  • Possession of a “Boating Safety Certificate” issued by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, Division of Education or another certificate issued by another state, a province of the Dominican of Canada, the United States Coast Guard Auxiliary, or by the United States Power Squadron. Please email a pdf of your certificate to clintonlakesailing@gmail.com or deliver a paper copy to a board member.

  • A successful completion of an on-the-water sailing evaluation (available at least one evening per month by an approved CLSA member) and completion of the “On the Water Checklist" which is listed at the bottom of this page. If you need more practice before taking your evaluation, sign up for Small Boat Tuesdays and work with a coach. You can also watch our video on how to rig our club Lasers.

  • Completion of a CLSA Liability Waiver form.

When you are ready for your on-the-water evaluation, please complete submit a request and a small boat instructor will follow up with you to schedule.

Rules for using CLSA Fleet Boats:

  • Sailors need to stay in sight of the CLSA dock or CLSA pavilion unless sailing in a CLSA club race (see map below).

  • Everyone must wear a life jacket & whistle when sailing club boats.

  • Don't take the boats out when there are white caps (unless registered for a CLSA club race) and immediately return to CLSA if white caps develop.

  • Know your abilities and sail within your limitations.

  • Be responsible for any repairs caused by damage during your sail by notifying the CLSA Harbormaster, Fleet Captain, or other designee of any needed repairs to boats and make note of it on the white board in the storage shed.

  • Demonstrate courtesy to all boaters.

Rules for youth sailors, ages 12 to 18years old using CLSA Fleet Boats:

Use of the Fleet boats by this age group is restricted further from normal by the following:

  • The approved sailing area is immediately west of the CLSA and Clinton marina harbor to a distance of no more than ½ way to the West side of the lake (unless registered for a CLSA race event).

  • Members 12 to 18 years old may not use the club boats in a CLSA race event if whitecaps are present.

Ages 12 years old as of 5/1 and under 14 years old as of 5/1

In order to use the Fleet boats the individual must be currently on the Approved Use List, and a parent or guardian over 21 years old must also be sailing a similar craft in a proximity that would allow for immediate aid.

Ages 14 years old as of 5/1 and under 18 years old as of 5/1

In order to use Fleet Boats the individual must be currently on the Approved Use List, and a parent or guardian over 21 years old must be present on CLSA grounds with a boat ready and have ability to assist as needed for the safety of the sailor during the sail. In the event the Parent or Guardian leaves CLSA grounds, the minor must return to the harbor and exit the boat until his/her return.

Evaluation Requirement. Instructor must be present.

Filled out CLSA Liability Waiver

  • Rig one of the club boats correctly

  • Demonstrate Bowline, Figure 8 and cleat hitch knots

  • Demonstrate proper way to wear a life preserver

  • Leaving shore or Dock - Determine wind direction and discuss the best way to leave harbor area. Discuss the best way to return to harbor and dock.

  • Demonstrate tacking ability

  • Demonstrate safety position

  • Demonstrating Jibing

  • For all but the Ray Green Demonstrate capsize recovery in deep water (greater than 5’)

  • Demonstrate ability to round two of the no wake buoys

  • Demonstrate ability to return to harbor

  • Demonstrate De-Rigging a boat, including proper sail storage and equipment storage.

The on the water skills will be demonstrated by rigging and unrigging, sailing through 2 of the no wake buoys, and returning to the harbor. Ideal wind speed for the on the water evaluation is 3 to 10 mph.

Sailboat Rental Sailing Area

When borrowing CLSA club boats, you MUST remain within sight of the CLSA dock. Generally, it's within this green box. Exceptions are made for CLSA-sponsored events.

Weekly Sailing

From May to September/October (weather permitting), we have weekly organized events to help members improve their sailing skills and socialize with fellow sailors. Each night focuses on different design of boat. Pick a design that suits your style or just come out whichever nights you are free. See registration information below to join the fun!

Small Boat Tuesdays

Go sailing on a chill Sunfish or a zippy Laser! Small Boat Tuesday is an opportunity for CLSA members to get more on-the-water sailing time and practice your small boat sailing skills under the supervision of experienced coaches. Bring your own boat or borrow one from the CLSA small boat fleet. Sailors must have small boat sailing experience before registering for Small Boat Tuesdays. Check the CLSA Calendar for available dates (boats are not available on Intro to Sailing class dates) and signup link, or contact clintonlakesailing@gmail.com.

Casual Wednesdays

On Wednesdays, we will provide a committee boat, set buoys and sound horns for racing on nights when enough boats show up to race. This summer we will have an Ad Hoc approach to Wednesday Night racing program with an emphasis on owner and skipper training. To participate simply show up on Wednesday night with your crew and Flying Scot. Be rigged and ready to race by 6:00 pm. We will use a 3-minute starting sequence with no flags, A VHF radio set to channel 68 will be helpful. We will be off the water before dark. If you would like help rigging your boat, sailing your boat, want to borrow a Flying Scot, or are interested in skipper training please email fleet135racing@gmail.com.

Crew Training Videos

Tacking: https://youtu.be/eLRzPyHw2dg

Jibing: https://youtu.be/V9Jo_OtelEI (start without spinnaker)

Raise the Spinnaker: https://youtu.be/cyN4vaLcS_8

Douse the Spinnaker: https://youtu.be/FTKgj2Pn7iY

Thistle Thursdays

**SIGN UP HERE** Come out and sail with Fleet #66 on a high performance Thistle! These informal races start at 6pm and run until dusk, typically followed by brat grilling and discussion. The informal races are intended to work on crew development and tune our racing skills for club, regional and national events.

Weekend Sailing Events

** CREW CONNECTION ** CLSA has introduced the Crew Connection to help connect skipper and crew and connect new sailors with experienced coaches. We're always looking for crew. CLSA sponsors and organizes buoy races, distance races, moonlight sails, sunset cruises, racing clinics, small boat clinics, and regattas. Visit the CLSA calendar for weekend events and submit a Crew Connection request on the Crew Connection.