About Your Local Sailing Club

So you’re interested in joining Willamette Sailing Club? That’s great! Our goal is to help you become a lifelong sailor. WSC is your local resource to help you develop the skills, confidence, and passion for the sport of sailing. Please enjoy this information that aims to shed light on various sailing opportunities throughout the Northwest. Sailing specific to Willamette Sailing Club and Portland is also included.

Where to Sail

There are about fifty different organizations that teach small boat sailing classes in Oregon and Washington. Sailing classes are taught by a variety of different organizations. Some are entirely volunteer based, while others employ year-round professional staff. Historically yacht clubs were the hub of youth sailing activities. That’s shifting however with community based sailing programs now being offered through parks and recreation departments, local independent sailing centers, or as extensions of larger non-profits. WSC is a private membership club that offers a variety of classes and sailing opportunities to the community of Portland. You can participate in most classes and lessons as a non-member, but there are many member-only events and benefits to joining the club.

Community Sailing vs. Yacht Clubs

When it comes to Learn to Sail classes, community sailing programs and yacht clubs have a lot in common. Just like community sailing programs, most yacht clubs offer youth junior sailing classes that are open to the public, though yacht club members may receive a discounted price. WSC is in between a Community Sailing Center and a Yacht Club, we’re a SAILING CLUB! Members do enjoy discounted prices on all sailing lessons and classes.

Large vs. Small Programs

The largest programs in our area each serve nearly 1000 kids and adults annually. Programs like Willamette Sailing Club, Seattle Yacht Club, and Sail Sand Point are some of the largest around. These programs employ over a dozen staff members and instructors each year during peak season. They also employ year round professional staff and offer programming in the off-season. Larger programs are usually able to offer a wider variety of courses because of the resources available to them. WSC is one of the largest sailing programs in the Northwest, and we’re right here in Portland!

Find a Sailing Program Near You!

Finding the right program is crucial! Qualified instructors, good equipment, diverse class offerings, and affordability will make your experience a positive one. Proximity is usually the main reason for choosing a program, but aside from convenience there are some other factors you should carefully consider:

1) Does the Program Hire US Sailing Certified Instructors?
US Sailing Certified Level One Instructors have to pass a rigorous course through US Sailing, which is the national governing body of sailing. Having a certified instructor means they have met national standards in safety, instruction, and are familiar with the US Sailing Curriculum. Certified instructors must also hold valid CPR/First Aid certifications and a state approved boating license. All WSC instructors are US Sailing Certified Level One or higher.

2) What’s after Learn to Sail?
Programs tend to be either recreational or racing in nature. Not everyone wants to race, and that’s OK. In fact, nationally only about 10% of all sailors identify themselves as “racers.” The first couple years of sailing are spent working on the fundamentals, but after a sailor masters the basics there are many paths from which to choose. Larger keel boats, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, & Math) education, adventure sailing, boat building, windsurfing, or paddle sports are just a few examples of recreational pathways after Learn to Sail.

It’s good to know what opportunities exist after mastering the basics. The best programs offer multiple classes, pathways, and levels to keep sailors engaged and on the water. Keep in mind that both recreational sailing and racing are not mutually exclusive, and that sailors may bounce from one to the other as their interests change. Both can be fun and rewarding! WSC offers sailing opportunities for both the casual cruiser and the advanced racer.

3) Do They Offer Year-Round Programming and Activities?
Most smaller programs only operate during the summer months. Others offer year round programming such as weekend “Learn to Sail,” race teams, high school sailing, or open sailing. If you want to keep yourself on the water during the entire year ask what they have to offer in the off-season. Being able to sail 8 or 10 months a year is a huge benefit! You won’t have to “restart” every summer and will retain more of what you have learned. WSC offers sailing opportunities throughout the year. Club boats are available for checkout, our club racing series run during the Fall, Summer, and Spring, and we have social events for our members every month.

4) Are They Affiliated with a Local High School or College Team?
Partnering with a local high school or university can add a wealth of vitality to a program. Having high school and college sailors around means that there is a strong dinghy sailing culture, a qualified pool of knowledgeable instructors, and activities happening throughout the year. There are also opportunities for any children you may have to be mentored by these athletes and one day go on to sail in high school or college themselves. WSC has one of the largest High School programs in the Northwest. Lewis & Clark and Portland State University both practice out of WSC.

WSC Mission Statement

1. To promote, advance, and encourage the sport of Corinthian or amateur sailing, particularly of sailboat racing and cruising.
2. To provide club, educational, social, mooring, cruising, and racing facilities for its members.
3. To hold and take part in sailboat races and regattas with other yacht clubs and associate with them.
4. To develop the friendship, sportsmanship, and good fellowship of its members and the general public.
5. To make the sailing facilities of the Portland area more popular, and utilize their possibilities.
6. To take part in and support other outdoor sports in the Pacific Northwest.
It is the intention of the club to maintain its position as a small boat club and to encourage development of the centerboard classes.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need to own a boat to belong to WSC?
WSC encourages boat ownership so our fleets can continue to grow. The more members who own boats means more boats will be on the water sailing. Members who have not reached their 30th birthday are not required to own a boat, but must be actively participating in club sailing opportunities. Members 30 years old and over (Regular Members) are required to own a boat after 1 year of membership. There are a number of affordable boat ownership opportunities through the club that are outlined on the “Fleets” section of the website.

Does WSC have boats to “check-out” to members or rent?
Yes! WSC has a number of Club-420s, Lasers, a Lido 14 and a Daysailer that are available for member use. You must be able to complete a skill and boat-handling checkout before you get access to these boats and they are available by reservation only. We also have SUPs and Kayaks! Most of our club owned boats are frequently used by after school programs and summer classes, so we want to make sure there are no scheduling conflicts.

Do I need to know how to sail to join?
Not at all! WSC has members with all ranges of sailing experience and knowledge. Many of the Willamette Sailing School student’s join the club after one sailing lesson. In addition, the sailing school gives a discount to WSC members taking classes, therefore we have also had members join and then take their first sailing class.

Can I still join if I am not interested in racing?
Yes, by all means. Probably only about 40-50% of the club’s membership actively race. WSC provides one of the most convenient venues to keep your boat on or near the water. Members enjoy quick access to the Willamette River and the 24/7 use of our private boat ramp.

What kinds of social events does the club hold?
The club holds numerous social events each year including a Commodore’s Ball, Awards Banquet, Opening Day, The Portland Wooden Boat Festival, Sail a Small Boat Day, Christmas Ships parade and many other events and parties in our floating sailing center.

How much does it cost to join?
For Regular Membership:
One time $1,250 Initiation Fee
$768 per Year ($64 per Month) for Membership dues

Members who are between the ages of 19-29 can apply for a Midshipman Membership, which pay 50% of the fee and dues listed above.

For More Information:

Contact the office at (503) 246-5345 or email Manager@WillametteSailingClub.com 


    Willamette Sailing Club



    6336 S. Beaver Ave
    Portland, OR 97239


    PMB 122, 5331 S. Macadam Ave Ste 258
    Portland, OR 97239


    Business Office: 503-246-5345

    Programming: 503-730-SAIL


    Membership and Billing - Manager@WillametteSailingClub.com

    Programming - Director@WillametteSailingClub.com