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Become a CANSail Coach

New coaches: There are 4 steps to becoming a certified sailing instructor: prerequisites, theory, technical and evaluation.  All instructors have to read, sign and adhere to the Coaching Code of Conduct.  Trained and certified instructors must register with Sail Canada and submit the annual coach/instructor dues to the Sail Canada office.  These annual dues cover instructor liability insurance as well as contributing to program development.

Go to 2017 course dates and online registration


All prerequisites must be scanned and emailed to BC Sailing prior to registering with Sail Canada as a coach.  This can be done before or after the coaching clinics.

  • All CANSail Instructors must be turning 16 in the calendar year.  The exception is for Community Coaches, who must be 15 years old.
  • Pleasure Craft Operator Card
  • First Aid: Standard First Aid level recommended from a nationally recognized provider.  Emergency level with CPR C will be accepted by Sail Canada until 2017.  As of 2018, Standard First Aid will be required.
  • Coach Boat Safety: one-day course offered through BC Sailing
  • Sailing Certificate:

CANSail 1 & 2 Instructor - minimum CANSail 4
CANSail 3 & 4 Instructor - minimum CANSail 5
CANSail 5 & 6 Instructor - minimum CANSail 6
Sprin & Trap Instructor - minimum CANSail 5 + Spin & Trap 2

BC Sailing recommends that instructors continue to upgrade their sailing levels through CANSail courses, race team training and spending time on the water to remain current with their sailing knowledge.


The CANSail Fundamental Course is the required theory portion, and is a prerequisite for all future instructing and coaching courses.  The Fundamental is a 2-day course that covers coaching theory, including professionalism, ethics, risk management, safety, skill development, teaching methods and planning a practice.

Ethics: The online ethics exam is offered by the Coaching Association of Canada (CAC)  The ethics module is introduced during the CANSail Fundamental course, and instructors and coaches are required to take the online ethics module and exam prior to registration with Sail Canada.  CANSail 1 & 2 and CANSail 3 & 4 instructors must take the Instructor Stream exam; CANSail 5 & 6 and Development Coaches must complete the Development stream.


The technical clinic is very hands-on course using the theory learned in the Fundamental course.  There are 3 levels for the technical:

  • CANSail 1 & 2
  • CANSail 3 & 4
  • CANSail 5 & 6

As of 2015, CANSail 3 & 4 instructors can teach all CANSail levels up to and including CANSail 4.  However, CANSail 5 & 6 instructors can only teach CANSail 5 & 6 unless they are also trained or certified in other levels.  The courses are not linear, so become a CANSail 1 & 2 instructor is not a prerequisite for becoming a CANSail 3 & 4 coach.  Upon successful completion of the technical clinic, instructors are Trained.  Trained instructors can register with Sail Canada and coach, but must complete an evaluation within 2 years of becoming Trained.  Once an instructor is successful in their evaluation, they are certified for 3 years from the date of their technical clinic.


Instructors and coaches must complete an evaluation within 2 years of becoming trained to become a Sail Canada Certified Instructor or Coach.  Contact BC Sailing to arrange an evalation with a local Evaluator.  Usually indivudually arranged evaluations from September to June are with race team training with a local team.  During the summer months, it may be possible to arrange for an evaluator come to your club or school (this may have a higher fee due to travel costs).  Evaluation clinics throughout the province will be posted on the website as well.

Professional Development Courses:

All instructors and coaches must complete professional development every three years.  The points required vary depending on the trained or certified level.  More information about Professional Development points is on the Sail Canada website.

Professional development courses are taught by expert Learning Facilitators, and are for instructors and coaches wishing to learn more about different boats and age groups.  These courses are open to all coaches and program directors, including first year instructors.

  • Program Manager (3 points)
    This module is open to coaches looking to take on an administrative or management role within their learn to sail program. Topics covered include marketing, registration, communication and safety.  This course is not recommended for first and second year instructors.
  • Wet Feet and Optimist 1 & 2 Module (3 points)
    This one-day module teaches instructors about rigging and technical skills specific to optis.  There are also discussions on how to teach younger sailors, and a variety of games to keep children learning and interested in sailing.  This module is required to teach Optimist 1 & 2.
  • Opti Race Module (3 points)
    This module is designed for instructors and coaches with previous optimist coaching experience and those who will be working with CANSail 3 & 4 level sailors or novice Opti race teams.  Candidates will work with optimist racing team sailors and will focus on developing racing skills and new coaching techniques.
  • Spinnaker & Trapeze (3 points)
    This module emphasizes correct rigging and boat handing in the 420 dinghy, as well as developing coaching techniques for double-handed skill development and teamwork.  Candidates can expect to spend an equal amount of time both instructing and sailing.  There will also be discussion of other high performance classes, such as the 29er and 470.  This course can be takeb ny any trained instructor or coach for professional development.  Upon successful completion with the correct prerequisites, instructors will be trained to teach Spinnaker and Trapeze 1 & 2.
  • Mentor Program (3 points)
    There are opportunities through the year to shadow senior and provincial coaches at events and clinics.  Opportunities will be posted on the website and on the BC Sailing Facebook page and are free of cost to coaches.
  • Community Coach
    This course is for people wishing to take part in a sailing course as an assistant instructor or volunteer.  This course provides candidates with the tools to assist on and off the water, and includes a series of lesson plans for teaching basic sailing skills.  Community Instructors also must take the Coach Boat Safety course, and are recommended to take the Fundamental course.  *Note: community coaches may not be eligible under Sail Canada's's coach insurance policy

Financial Assistance

Financial assistance is available for athletes and coaches to offset costs of course fees. Up to 50% of clinic fees can be covered by BC Sailing for qualifying candidates and applications are accepted on an ongoing basis. Please email business@bcsailing.bc.ca for information, click HERE for application instructions.


If you have questions about how to become a coach, or are unsure of what courses to register for, email athlete.dev@bcsailing.bc.ca.

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