Johnson at Cornell University | Groups

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Getting Started Sailing

Incoming students arriving in Ithaca with little to no sailing experience can get on the water this summer with a few basic steps:
  • Learn the Lingo and Practice Knots: Prior to heading to the sailing center for a lesson, we recommend familiarizing yourself with the names of different parts of a boat (e.g. jib, hull, mast, backstay, boom, rudder). You may also find it helpful to try a few common knots at home. Try the Cleat Hitch (AnimatedKnots), the Figure 8 (AnimatedKnots), and the Bowline (AnimatedKnots).
  • Learn About the Cayuga Lake: It is always helpful to understand the water, weather and local ordinances prior to beginning to sail in a new area. (Website)
  • Take a 3-Day Sailing Lesson: The Merrill Family Sailing Center offers an introductory course on safely preparing a boat and navigating the local waters for $125 per person throughout the summer. (Website)
  • Enjoy a Seasonal Membership: Many students enjoy longer memberships at the nearby sailing center, which is open to the public. Once you pass a short test with a member of the sailing team to demonstrate you understand how to safely prepare and navigate a boat, you'll be cleared to check out boats on your own. The most popular times to sail in Ithaca are between May and October, though the sailing season varies each year. Those that have taken a safety course with the center may also receive a discount on their memberships. (Website)
  • Attend a Fall Welcome Event: The sailing club will resume in late August and host a welcome (and welcome back) event for members of the Johnson community in September. Details on Fall events and upcoming regattas to be announced in late August.


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