Beginner Course

ASA 101 and ASA 103

A comprehensive look at the Sailing Virgins Beginner Course.

People choosing a Beginner Course are those who either have never sailed before or may have sailed before but wish to work on their foundation. The Beginner Course creates people who know the terminology of a sailing boat and understand the principles of sailing itself. The course also works on many of the essential skills, such as tying knots and basic navigation.

What sort of certifications do I get?

The Beginner Course will earn you the first two levels of the American Sailing Association system, the ASA 101 and 103. You sit an exam on the last day which is marked then-and-there, and then we enter you in the ASA system.

Great, so what does ASA 101 and 103 allow me to do?

These two certifications are the ‘Basic Keelboat Sailing’ and ‘Basic Coastal Cruising’ certifications. Combined, these will give you knowledge of basic sailing terminology to begin with, plus the following:

  • parts and functions of a boat,
  • helm commands,
  • basic sail trim,
  • points of sail,
  • buoyage,
  • seamanship and safety including basic navigation rules to avoid collisions and hazards,
  • auxiliary engine operation,
  • docking procedures,
  • intermediate sail trim,
  • navigation rules,
  • basic coastal navigation,
  • anchoring,
  • weather interpretation,
  • safety and seamanship.

You’ll have the experience and certification to sail a keelboat aka yacht up to 35 feet in length by day in moderate winds (up to 20 knots) and sea conditions. Then you are closer to being able to sail your own boat, and having surprisingly affordable vacations with your family & friends. Here is a blog post we wrote describing how to do this.

Can I fail the ASA exam?

It’s important to note that earning your sailing certification is something that tens of thousands of people do per year. While it does require time and dedication, it isn’t as complicated or difficult as most people might think. In fact, we relate it to something similar in difficulty and time as learning to drive a car.

To specifically answer the question above, if you read the books like this one, and do the activities your instructor has you do, you’ll be fine.

Does it require any prior skills or knowledge?

No prior knowledge is required. The Beginner Sailing Course starts from ground zero: upon booking, students are sent the coursework (a sailing log book and two texts from the American Sailing Association), which need to be read prior to the course itself. Here is a link to the text for the 101, so you know what you will be receiving in the mail when you book a course.

Do the Instructors cater to Beginners?

Sailing Virgins Instructors are young, know how to get on with people, and really know their sailing. As well as being certified to the top sailing associations in the world, Sailing Virgins Instructors need at least two ocean crossings and two seasons working for The Yacht Week or The Bucket Lust, before coming to work as an Instructor. Here is another page giving more information about our instructors.

As experienced as they are, they’re well equipped to train up the greenest of beginners. In fact, our instructors have a strong track record of taking students with zero experience all the way to becoming professional skippers for private charters and The Yacht Week. Here is a post giving more information about how to become a Yacht Week skipper.

Ok I’m ready to book, anything I need to do before the course?

For the Beginner Course, we’ll send you the 101 and 103 textbooks when you book. You’ll want to spend time reading these in advance so you understand the main parts of the boat, points of sail and right of way rules. Other than booking your travel arrangements and coming with a good attitude, you’re all set.

Click here to go to the Beginner Course page to check available dates and secure your spot!