Discover Buffalo Sailing

An Introduction to Sailing

Ask any sailor what sailing means to them and the answers will be varied but always passionate. For some, it’s the feeling of silently gliding on the water and the pull of wind in the sails. For others, it’s the rush when the boat heels or the thrill of running a race line. But for all, it is the camaraderie of sharing a sport that is at the same time intellectually challenging, emotionally exciting and physically demanding. The Buffalo Harbor Sailing Club wishes to share all of this with you.

Discover Buffalo Sailing is your introduction to the world of sailing. Taking place the first 4 weeks of the sailing season, the program will expose you to basic sailing skills through a structured program of onshore chalk-talks and on the water, hands-on experience. Club boat owners are volunteering their equipment to give you the best possible experiences. Mentors and seasoned crew members will coach you as you learn how the wind and the sails move the vessel through the water. The program will include basic boat handling and safety.

Registration opens on January 15th. The 2023 season will kick off on Thursday, April 20th with an orientation session from 6:30-8:30 pm that will outline the program expectations, recommended equipment and boat assignments. It will also be a “meet the skipper” night as all participants and fellow crew members, including your club mentors, will be introduced. This meeting will be held at Obersheimer Sailor Supply – 1884 Niagara St. Buffalo, NY 14207 on the second-floor sail loft.

Sessions will run on four consecutive Saturdays with the first session running from 8:30 am – 1:00 pm on Saturday May 13th. The remaining sessions will start at 9:00 am. Each session will consist of a 45-minute dockside chalk-talk and 2-1/2 hour sail, weather permitting. Sessions will not be rescheduled if poor weather prevails. In the case of poor weather, a dockside lesson will be substituted. Each boat will have a skipper and seasoned crew members. Participants will be actively involved in sailing during each session.

The requirement for participation is basic club membership which is $55, a $20 materials fee, and signature of a liability waiver. Participants need to be agile enough to easily move around a boat in motion. For more specific information regarding requirements prior to orientation, please contact Diana Augspurger, Program Coordinator at

Seats are limited so we encourage you to apply early. Submit your membership application online by clicking on the signup button below


Program FAQs

– Is the program fee refundable?

You are not paying for a class. You are purchasing a club membership which entitles you to take the class. Your membership allows you to post your name on our crew bank. Skippers use the crew bank to fill empty positions on their race boats. In addition to 15 weeks of weekly racing, your membership also entitles you to attend all club events including regatta parties (for an additional fee), purchase club clothing at a discount and attend any club membership meetings. You may cancel your enrollment by April 1st for a full refund. No cancellations will be accepted or refunds provided after that date. There is no obligation to renew this membership. However, we are certainly hoping you will come back next season.

– What if I miss a class?

There are no plans for make-up classes. Advise your skipper that you will be absent.

– Do I need a lot of expensive gear to sail?

The lake is still quite cold in May so warm clothing is strongly suggested. You will need gloves that have a leather palm, a life jacket and shoes that have a grooved, non-marking sole that disperses water. Any additional needs would be optional – sunglasses, baseball cap with jacket clip and waterproof pants. Your skipper may have a life jacket you can borrow for the class. Please inquire before purchasing.

– Can I use a camera during the program?

Yes. However, please remember that on the water, it’s easy to lose things overboard. Be prepared to put the camera somewhere safe like a zippered pocket as you will need both hands free most of the time. During dockside sessions we ask that cell phones be silenced.

– Will I receive any type of certificate for participating?

No. We have skilled people prepared to share their wealth of knowledge but they are not certified instructors. It is our goal to expose you to sailing and provide enough experience for you to determine whether this is a sport you want to pursue further. You can continue with a hands-on learning experience through the club or take professional lessons from certified instructors outside of the club to receive an American Sailing Association or US Sailing certification.

– Can I continue sailing after the program ends?

Yes. As a member of the club, your skipper may invite you to stay on or we can add your name to the club crew bank for other skippers to see. We also assist with boat placement if need be. However, there is no guarantee we can find a boat for you.

-Can I take the program more than once? 

No. In order to give as many people as possible exposure to the sport, we limit participation to one time only.