Junior Sailing Programme

2023-2024 Junior Learn-to-Sail

Heretaunga Boating Club are running a learn-to-sail course for new sailors. This comprises a two-day block course followed by Saturday morning sailing through the season until the end of April 2024.

Dates to note:

  • Tuesday 11 October 2023 – Huia Pool pool 6.00pm – 7.00pm (capsize practice) – come ready to get wet!
  • Saturday 14 October – Sunday 15 October 2023 from our club rooms at 138 The Esplanade Petone - 9:00am to 3:00pm each day.

The Junior Learn-to-Sail programme includes a junior membership, the two-day course, Saturday morning coaching sessions and use of a boat for the remainder of the season - all for $395.

The club provides Optimist sailing dinghies for the course and the Saturday morning training sessions.

If you wish to attend the course please register via the online form, on a first in first served basis. We have space for twelve new sailors per season so please register as soon as possible to avoid being dissappointed. Late registrations will go on the waiting list.

If you have any questions email [email protected]  or call one of our Junior Coordinators:

Matt (027 612 0772) or Simon (027 534 3872)

Learn-to-sail squad

Once you have completed the learn-to-sail course you will join our learn-to-sail squad and receive coaching on Saturday mornings from 9:00am - 12pm.

Club owned plastic Optmist boats will be available for use for your first season. For subsequent seasons you will advance to our learn-to-race group and you will then need your own boat.

What you need to bring to the Learn-to-Sail course

  • Food for the course
  • Life jacket
  • Wetsuit
  • Thermal clothing layer (polypro or merino)
  • Hat
  • Warm windproof jacket
  • Footware
  • Sunglasses
  • Sunscreen
  • Towel for the shower and dry clothes to change into.

General info on junior squads

​​​​​​​Learn-to-Sail course

Yachting NZ qualified instructors lead a two day course early in the season for children 8 years and older. The course fee covers boat use and club membership. By the end of the course sailors will:

  • know the safety essentials and some basic rules to avoid other boats
  • name the key parts of the boat, tie knots and rig the boat
  • safely launch and retrieve
  • be able to sail
  • have qualified to participate in the Rainbow fleet.

The Rainbow fleet (our learn-to-sail squad for sailors that have completed a learn-to-sail course)

  • Skills, games and introduction to racing – rain, shine or hurricane
  • Level 1 (Start Sailing) on the Yachting NZ programme
  • Stepping stone to Green fleet.

Rainbow fleet sailors are also encouraged to attend the live-in Wellington Optisail 3-day course at Titahi Bay Yacht Club. This course is normally held in the summer school holiday and is loads of fun.  Sailors will have to register and pay for this separately.

Parent help 

Learn-to-sail and Rainbow fleet sailors need to have a parent/carer available for support while they are sailing at the Club. A supportive parent is one of the important success factors in any sport and none more so than in sailing right through school years.  Parents of Rainbow fleet sailors may be needed on the beach at short notice if a young sailor needs to come ashore while the instructor is still on the water. Parents of Green Fleet and Opti Squad sailors will be trained and rostered on to help run racing on Saturday morning.  While many parents are experienced sailors, and will need less training, we will ensure that any parent on the water to help out is appropriately trained. We also hope that parents wanting to sail will take the opportunity to go out in one of the available Club boats.


HBC takes risk management very seriously and has a number of policies in place to ensure sailors stay safe.  To ensure that our young sailors have fun in a safe and supportive environment we must have parent support. Staying safe starts with sailors bringing the right clothing and equipment to cope with cold, wet, sunny or warm conditions.

The Green fleet (for sailors who are ready to move up from Rainbow fleet)

  • Coaching mid-week (day to be confirmed) and racing Saturday morning at the club and at other club regattas
  • Green fleet sailors will need to have their own Optimist sailing boat
  • Level 2 (Sailing Fast) progressing to Level 3 (Go Racing) on the Yachting NZ programme.

The Starling fleet (for skilled sailors who have outgrown the Optimist [55kg+])

  • Training mid-week (Thursday 4:30 - 7:00pm) – more advanced racing skills and racing on Saturday afternoon
  • Sailors will need to have their own Starling class boat.

Club boats and buying your own

HBC has plastic Optimist training boats, bought with the help of New Zealand Community Trust and Pub Charity, for the use of Rainbow fleet sailors in their first year of Learn-to-Sail.  The cost of this use is included in the Learn-to-Sail course fee.  Our young sailors will need to learn how to look after these boats and will need parent help to get boats out of the shed and to put them away again.

Green fleet and Starling sailors will need to buy a boat. If you need advice please ask an experienced club member familiar with the class of boat you are interested in buying.  Once children are ready to move on from the Rainbow fleet to the Green fleet, they should be looking for a fiberglass Optimist.  At the time of writing, good entry level boats were available for $1000 -$2000.  Boats that are well maintained should expect to be resold for a similar price after several years use.