YMCA Aquatics - Sailing Program

Learn sailing, seamanship, and water safety from our sailing club located in Kawaihae. Open to ages 10 and up!

YMCA supports a program to instruct both youth and community members in sailing small boats. It is our goal to build a program which serves the community and expands recreational opportunities in Kawaihae.


Social distancing will be adhered to throughout all classes and community sail days, and we will be following the US Sailing guidelines for sailing instruction during COVID-19.

Community Sailing Program

Sailors who have completed a sailing course or demonstrated their ability to sail are given the opportunity to sail YMCA boats recreationally. This expands opportunities for recreation in Kawaihae, builds a volunteer base to support the sailing community and activities in the future, and provides an opportunity for students to continue developing their sailing skills and confidence in a safe environment.

Membership in our Community Sailing Program is $70/year. An active YMCA lifetime membership is required, a $50 one-time fee that covers all members of a household.

Membership Benefits:

  • Participate in community sail dates
  • Use of facility and equipment
  • Recreational boat rental (with proper certifications)

Sailing Classes

YMCA sailing classes feature formal instruction to teach new sailors the basics of sailing, safety, teamwork, and boat handling. We host several courses, including:

  • Introductory Youth Sailing
  • Advanced Youth Sailing
  • Introductory Adult Sailing

Classes are usually 4 days, starting at $125 for the full course. All classes are open to the public. Must have an active YMCA membership to participate.

A Brief History of the YMCA Sailing Program

In 1994, a small group of sailors got together with the vision of creating a youth sailing program at Kawaihae for North and Kohala. We partnered with YMCA and connected with Guy Fleming, Youth Program Director at Waikiki Yacht Club and Regional Instructor Trainer for U.S. Sailing. Guy came over and taught an instructor course for us at the Kona Sailing Club.

1994 was the first year of sailing at Kawaihae, using two Lasers rescued from the boneyard at Mauna Kea Beach Hotel (see attached). We obtained a permit to operate at a small yard on the outside of the Army fence at the Kawaihae Harbor LST ramp. In 1995 we even built a 16 foot power skiff at the former wood shop at Waimea Middle School. Guy Fleming came to teach another course in 1996, this time using the Kawaihae Terminals meeting room for classroom work.

In 2001, we obtained a permit to operate at the unfinished Kawaihae South Small Boat Harbor, where we dedicated a proper facility, funded by Fritz Jewett and Weyerhauser Corporation, and built completely by volunteers. A full range of sailing , seamanship, and water safety courses, including sailing outrigger canoe training, were offered until approximately 2005.  The facility was maintained by volunteers in the interim. Prior to the completion of the new small boat harbor, we were required to move to our present location, and youth sailors learned new skills, those of launch and recovery of boats in the old Hawaiian style. With the new harbor, we now have a double launch ramp for the future.